Why Is It So #$%@ Difficult to Improve the Customer Experience?

Many of our clients have committed at a very strategic level to improving their customers’ experience. As such, they have gone through extensive focus group interviews, done journey-mapping, and spent millions consolidating databases to create a single view of their relationship with a customer.

While all of these activities are necessary, there is more work to do. From Doculabs’ perspective, we recommend considering the following four initiatives:

Multi-channel communications. Today, most communications continue to be managed in silos. The email I get reads one way, the client portal says a slightly different thing, and the text notifications are cryptic. The way to address this challenge is very similar to the journey-mapping work already completed – just a level deeper, with focus on the communications themselves. Simplifying and creating consistency is the goal. And not surprisingly, you should start with the high-frequency, high-impact events and their supporting communications. This ordinarily results in something less than 100 discrete pieces of communications that will need to be rewritten / formatted / linked /, etc.

Personalize based on persona. “Liz”, “wife”, “mom”, “tennis player” – each of these terms describes my spouse. And while personalization tools are getting better, especially when one logs into a familiar site, the context of my searches and navigation becomes critically important to anticipating what my interests might be. Popular ecommerce sites have it nailed. Travel organizations are also top-notch. Unfortunately, though, it’s a big drop to the experience provided by most of the other important institutions we deal with in our day-to-day lives (healthcare providers, governmental agencies, etc.).

Data plus content. Unfortunately, most client-facing web sites were built for executing transactions. Kind of like McDonald’s: get in, get fed, and get out quickly. But today, we want customers to linger, and that requires educational and informative material to keep them there. And now, with the race to create mobile applications, the same challenge exists. Do you hurry and get basic transactional capabilities into an app, or do you take more time to create something with a truly immersive experience?

Information architecture. If you buy the idea that a richer experience requires content – be it video, infographics, user-contributed comments, etc. – it’s time to get organized. Many clients create and organize content tactically, on a project-by-project basis – e.g. first half of 2014, redo the online training. Second half of 2014, reorganize the reference library of published and linked product material. 2015, add video. 2016, add syndicated content. What about the master plan? Just like building a house, you can’t work on plumbing without considering heating and electrical holistically.

For those firms that are working diligently on improving their customers’ experience, oftentimes there are some easy wins (change the objectives of the call center team, gussy up the store or branches). But the next wave of improvements is often more difficult. And in today’s digital world, making changes that scale (i.e. that don’t depend on humans) are an absolute necessity. The four areas identified above are great examples of how to improve the customer experience in a scalable manner.

Rich Medina
James Watson
I’m President and co-founder of Doculabs, serving as executive sponsor on consulting engagements for financial services clients.