A practical approach to Customer Journey Transformation
Ever faster change, greater customer choice and channel proliferation are realities every business faces today. Equally, continually improving customer experience across multiple touch-points is important if companies are to build loyalty and maintain margins. Customer journeys must reduce customer effort and be relevant and distinct.
It has always been true that delivering change that profitably improves customers’ experiences is difficult. Indeed studies from IBM, McKinsey and KPMG all show that between 60% and 80% of projects fail to deliver the intended benefits.
We design Customer Journey projects with successful delivery in mind from from the outset. This diagram shows some of the steps we would typically go through in an end-to-end project.
There are of course many reasons why success is elusive but here is what our experience tells us are the seven main ones:
1. Projects are poorly conceived:
- Too often project strive to solve the wrong problem either because they are driven by internal priorities (reducing cost and increasing sales) or by group thinking and received wisdom or because they are based on the results of generic, remote customer surveys. Most projects are not founded on robust customer insight.
2. Insufficient cross functional alignment:
- Customers are the only group who ever experience the entire output of a company through all its touch-points; from all its functions. Improving the customer journey requires the combined effort of all of the parts.
- Silos allow competing priorities, failure to understand the impact of a change on other departments and lack of support for important changes to flourish.
3. A lack of robust experience design:
- Failure to understand the wider impact on customers and staff creates unintended consequences. Tactical or opportunistic changes, such as extra features or greater variation to satisfy niche requirements usually increase complexity.
- Any change which increases effort, for staff or customers, will to struggle to succeed.
4. Too little testing, too late
- Benefits are often assumed. Too often the perceived solution to a customer problem is no solution at all; it is simply the replacement of one problem with another.
- Practical considerations inevitably mean that plans must change. However too often the essence of the customer benefit is unknowingly designed out of the solution, or so severely compromised as to make the change uneconomic.
- Only regular and frequent (often low cost/lo-fi) testing can ensure a change will work for staff, deliver the required customer benefit and profitably change behaviour.
5. Poor project planning:
- It is easy to assume you have all the bases covered. Experience, a fresh pair of eyes and comprehensive planning frameworks can all identify gaps and bear down on unanticipated risks.
- Impacts on other functions, on people, on processes and technology must all be considered by the relevant people and contingencies put in place.
- Project management must be focussed on outputs and milestones rather than on the project management template. Best practice project tools are effective only if used selectively to enable delivery. The means are not the end!
6. Lack of senior support:
- As change normally affects many departments the senior team have to buy into the project. If they don’t see how it fits into the corporate strategy, have realistic expectations and voice their support it may be seen by their teams as an optional rather than as a core activity.
7. Lack of ownership:
- Many consultancies try to do change to their Clients. That way they can more easily justify big fees and charge out for lots of bodies. However this approach stops the Client honing its own in-house capability and can foster a lack of commitment to ensure the delivered change is fit for purpose.
- We always work with in-house teams, mentoring and supporting them so they own the change. The additional resource we provide is there to bolster their teams working under the Client’s ultimate management. The client understands its business; our role is to re-focus client knowledge and talent and to generate momentum towards achieving the agreed goals.
We are passionate about improving customer experiences so that businesses can thrive. To do that we have to help our Clients understand staff and customer experiences and to deliver change profitably.
We have driven change for large blue-chip corporations like AXA, Abbey and Orange, for SMEs such as Stannah, HPI and I Want One of Those.com and for not-for-profits including L&Q and the NHS.
We have developed our approach to helping our Clients based on our collective experiences and in particular on the experience of our Transformation Director who has worked for 25 years as a board level Customer Service and Operations Director. Delivery is the key.
Our approach is built on eight simple principles:
- Change must be based on customer insight
- Change must work for the staff who deliver it as well as for the customer’s who experience it
- Proposed changes to the customer journey must go through a robust validation process to ensure they are feasible, viable, sustainable and relevant to customers, to staff and to the business strategy
- To be sustainable a programme of change must include a blend of quick wins, and longer term wins
- Incorporate ongoing testing with staff and customers to ensure the intended benefits are delivered
- Managers need practical management support to help them deal with the very real BAU challenges they must address to enable them to also give time to new change initiatives
- Projects must engage across all the functions impacted; issuing dictates or thinking for another function is very unlikely to work.
- Explicit senior sponsorship must be gained at the outset based on realistic expectations and maintained through regular engagement and success.