Why Customer Experience (CX) Thinking is Crucial for the Post-Covid Organisation
Customer Experience (CX) Strategy is a way of thinking that places the customer, or end user, at the centre of an organisation’s operational structure. It enables businesses to reflect on how their services, products and operational model relates to their audience.
In today’s increasingly competitive, numbers-driven marketplace, CX thinking is critical in enabling businesses to reflect on their core purpose - and identify space for improvement. This ultimately benefits both the customer and the organisation, in the form of enhanced amenities, workplace culture and additional business revenue.
Societal disruption and lowered consumer confidence
There is no doubt that the global outbreak of Coronavirus is having a significant effect on the way that society operates. In the hope of avoiding a widespread viral outbreak, Australians are more reluctant than ever to leave their homes. This is having significant implications across a wide range of sectors, from office workplace dynamics to online shopping, education delivery to online social and entertainment experiences. With these changing social dynamics comes new challenges - and opportunities - for organisations to innovate. Now is the perfect time to embrace CX thinking.
“In the new world of physical distancing and online service delivery, what is your organisation’s recovery plan?”
Knowing your audience(s)
The first step in developing a clear CX strategy is to understand your audience. This may include multiple audience ‘categories’ and the development of customer profiles or avatars. These may be based around a range of factors, including, but not limited to:
Workplace / industry
Professional or social aspirations
Family connections and family values
Wellbeing and/or spirituality
Cultural values and taste
Creating segregated audience profiles is a useful way to achieve top-level audience insight, which can be used in developing a CX strategy.
Developing a Customer Journey Map
Customer Journey Maps (CMJ) are a great way to visualise the process in which your audiences engage with your brand, product and service over time.
The Customer Journey Map allows us to consider the process of engaging customers, from their first interaction with your brand, through to enquiry, sale, use of the purchased product or service, as well as the longer term interaction.
The key phases of a Customer Journey Map include:
Discovery The initial interaction between a potential customer and your brand or product
Research The process a potential customer undertakes when researching and comparing your product to other alternatives. This may take place before you get to know them.
Enquiry The interaction between the potential customer and your team. This could be through a website form enquiry, an email, phone call or even an event seminar.
Nurturing & sale The process in which a customer is nurtured through to confirming the purchase of your product
Use This aspect is about how your customer uses and enjoys your products and services. It is about their personal experience.
Advocacy Never underestimate the power of word of mouth! How your customers interact and enjoy your product will determine the kind of feedback they share with others - including prospective customers.
Resale Many businesses are valuable not because of their accounts history but due to their customer loyalty and repeat business. This is certainly true of many consumables and retail transactions (for example, Qantas’ Frequent Flyer offshoot is valued higher than the airline itself). In the context of the property sector, the concept of reselling may not seem as immediately relevant. On closer reflection, however, it may in fact open interesting questions about intergenerational property acquisition and product evolution.
Moving on It may be that your customers move on after a period of time. Perhaps your product has a certain lifespan, or perhaps it is the customer’s lifespan that needs to be considered. Either way, every product and service goes through a cycle of renewal and this should be factored into the CX Strategy.
In summary, the Customer Journey Map incorporates all of these 8 phases of the customer journey in a consolidated visual chart. The map can bring enormous clarity to project teams responsible for different facets of property development and operational management.
Identifying service (and product) gaps
The Customer Journey Map is not just a decorative drawing for your office boardroom. It is a tool that can be used by many departments and referred to continually throughout development projects.
In particular, many organisations can quickly identify service or product gaps when creating a map for the first time. In the context of sales, marketing and architectural design, a Customer Journey Map can also be helpful in stimulating discussion around the weighted value of different user touchpoints. It can be a valuable tool in shaping new projects at a very early stage.
Validating your research with on-the-ground feedback
Your team may already be knowledgeable about your audience, but there is nothing wrong with validating their beliefs with on-the-ground research. Customer and staff surveys, online feedback requests, written testimonials and group workshops are great ways to obtain audience insight that can help you refine your organisation’s Customer Journey Map. Feedback can come from many different sources (and sometimes at unexpected moments); organisations that are receptive to continuous feedback are often the ones best equipped to innovate.
Investing in Services: Staff, Digital Tools and Built Amenity
In today’s competitive marketplace, property developments are no longer concerned with just building stock. The customer experience incorporates a range of factors, from physical amenity and infrastructure, to ongoing customer services, maintenance solutions, as well as online experiences.
Placing a higher emphasis on service provision allows developers to achieve a broader view of the project before the physical buildings are designed. After all, the architectural design is there to facilitate an experience and is not the only thing that the customer experiences.
For example, placing attention on services may present new opportunities for digital innovation. Website, app and voice-activated tools (such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home) allow for different kinds of service interactions that may add value to a property development. From home security and temperature control, to social interactions, ordering of food, community notifications to personal assistance and support - the possibilities for creating new kinds of services through digital platforms are immense. This is particularly true in today’s era of social distancing.
Putting it all together: creating strategies for success
Understanding your audience, their behaviour, wants, needs and expectations is the first step in developing a clear Customer Experience Strategy.
With this insight, organisations can better plan their projects by providing relevant (and strategic) services and amenities that meet or exceed their audience expectations. This requires a unique blend of marketing, sales and design sensibilities.
CX thinking is not just about developing physical products, but rather represents a broader understanding of the way that physical amenity, service and online experience interact to create a total experience.
Achieving a great customer experience is critical for long term business sustainability. Having a CX strategy is also important in aligning project teams, ensuring that all members have insight as to how their actions fit into a bigger picture.
In this era of social distancing, digital transformation and changing consumer values, there has never been a more opportune time to embrace Customer Experience thinking.
Interested in developing your own Customer Experience Strategy? Mortar’s ‘Village Visioning Program’ is a unique 6-module program designed for the Retirement Village sector, helping leaders envisage long term project strategies in a guided format and presented online. You can learn more here, or get in touch and we will be happy to discuss the program further.
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Danny Brookes is Partner of Mortar CX with a background in Marketing, Innovation and Design