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Customers Aren’t Rational — So Why Are We Designing Like They Are?

D6BZSQ2NM2-1In my years as a CX professional, I’ve run into plenty of organizations with CX programs that worked wonderfully, and plenty that didn’t—and plenty that seemed like they should work, but didn’t. These can often be the hardest to change, because everything about them seems to make sense—so why does the journey break down?

As an example, let’s look at a hospital client of ours. We studied their outpatient radiology, including MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds, to better understand what it was like to be a patient. The hospital’s business problem was in patient loyalty—patients who needed multiple scans weren’t coming back for their next procedure.

We discovered a number of problems, but a major one was that over 10% of patients got lost in the hospital on the way to their appointment. Over 10%! There were many well-marked signs, and even a staff person to welcome incoming patients. (By the way, the lost patients would eventually find a doctor who would escort them to the right room, but I’m sure we can agree doctors probably have better things to do.)

The lost patients were on their way to a very stressful medical procedure. When you’re worried you might have cancer, of course you’re not rational. So designing systems based on a rational mindset doesn’t work. And that’s where it always seems to go awry – assuming your customers are rational. Read more

Interview with DST Health Solutions CXO Lisa Crymes: Creating a Multi-Layered Customer Advisory Board Approach

Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) are a terrific way to get consistent customer feedback, and are particularly popular with B2B firms. An effective CAB strategy allows you to stay in tune with what your customers need, and also gives you a forum for bouncing off ideas before they get too far down the road, providing an early warning before investment into a misaligned idea is too high.

One challenge to a CAB is its make-up. Does your CAB include senior leaders or day-to-day contacts? Do you focus on strategic advice or instead measure how you’re doing? DST Health Solutions looks at these options and says “Yes” to all of them, by building a multi-layered approach to CABs. Read more

A customer journey map is a story

Amanda-Purchasing-Insurance-Journey-Map-v2A question I get asked a lot is, “What exactly is a customer journey map?” Considering that my official title is Mapper-In-Chief, it seems like I would have a short, clean answer ready and waiting. Or at least a short overview, with the caveat, but there’s more to it than that. In reality, though, I only have the caveat, and not the actual answer—because there is, in fact, more to it than that.

A journey map can mean a lot of different things. Despite the word “map” in its name, a journey map doesn’t have a set design or layout—in fact, design plays a critical role in creating the map. Because what it’s mapping is the customer and their emotional journey—a highly individual process, and one that defies a set template. It is the customer’s needs that drive the action of the map, and therefore by nature each journey map is an individualized diagram of a customer’s interaction with your company.

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Customer journey maps are all about expectations

Picture2Nobody likes surprises.  Even positive ones can ruin your customer experience.

Here’s a case in point. I was teaching at an insurance company when an employee told me a story. A customer filing a claim told him, “my agent said I don’t have rental coverage. Now I have to pay for the stupid rental car.” The employee informed him that the agent was wrong – he did have rental insurance. But instead of thrilling the customer, it frustrated him.

His relationship is with the agent who sold him his policy. That’s where his trust is. Instead of being happy that he now has rental coverage, he’s confused – who does he trust? How does he know who’s right?  And if the rental coverage is wrong, what else might be?

Map it Out

That’s where effective customer journey maps can really help you understand and prevent customer problems. Effective journey maps show customer expectations and highlight when they’re not being met. They isolate those moments of truth when customer expectations are dashed. One of my first customer journey maps was the health savings account journey (HSA). My client had a “single sign-on” for their health plan and their HSA. For some reason, customers felt this meant they only had to sign in once to get to their HSA (I know – strange, right?).  Of course, that’s not how it worked.  While they only had to enter their username once, they had to enter a second password to get to their account. Surprise!

A surprise for the company was that website login was the number one cause of customer attrition. Their customer journey maps highlighted the issue. Luckily they were able to quickly make at least small adjustments to improve the process, combined with an educational campaign.

That’s the power of effective customer journey maps. And I’m not talking about Excel or Visio boxes on a chart. Or PowerPoint slides with a few bubbles.

No, clearly understanding your customer journey and their challenges requires a well-designed map to instantly show your reader where problems are. Notice how Jane’s inability to order a product above results in a significant drop in engagement.

Do you fully understand your customer’s expectations today? Or will you be as surprised as they are?

It only takes 3 seconds to destroy your service experience

The beginning of a service experience matters. A lot. Start successfully, and you can make it a great experience. Start wrong, and you can dig a hole you can’t get out of.

I mentioned my car accident last week. Luckily, it wasn’t bad, but the agent didn’t know that. That’s how she began our conversation. I told her that I was at the site of an accident. Instead of asking if I’m okay, she was right down to business, asking me about what I want to do. It was just another call in a long series of them for her.

Just like that, there was no chance to engage me. She would have been just as effective if she hung up.

Her approach might not matter in a rational world. But I don’t live in that world. And neither do you. But it seems that some people haven’t gotten that message, designing experiences based on the assumption that we’re all rational.

What to Do?

How else to explain health plans that allow you to choose your own pricing, then are surprised when everyone chooses the low-premium, low coverage option. I actually worked with a health savings account organization who believed (and still does) that consumers want to select between different pricing plans. Despite the fact that literally 98.5% of their consumers didn’t. They felt they just needed more education.

Bad design is everywhere in the world of websites. My “favorites” are websites that require convoluted logins I can’t remember, or password schemes that can’t end with a number or symbol. I know a rational person wouldn’t care about this limit. But a real person does.

That’s one of the reasons I love journey mapping so. Effective journey maps uncover the emotions in a customer experience, clearly visualizing those friction points that interfere with customer engagement. An effective journey map clearly shows your customer’s emotions, revealing the friction points that are costing you customers.

Apparently, the folks over at Software Advice, a consulting company for customer support software, share my passion for understanding the emotions in our experiences. They conducted a survey to understand customers’ preferred type of communication. The article ends with a clear call to action.  While a casual tone works well in neutral or positive experiences, a formal tone is absolutely necessary when denying requests.

So think about the tone in your service experiences. And give yourself a chance to get past your first three seconds.

Go analog to create customer empathy with a customer experience room

Customer Experience RoomThere’s no question about it – we live in a digital world. Checking our Facebook statuses, watching our videos, sending texts, our instincts are becoming digital.

Given that, it’s no surprise that many efforts at teaching about customers are also digital. Citrix created a digital customer room. YouTube channels are another common approach, as are intranets. Companies create all kinds of ways for employees to learn more about customers and their needs.

So why isn’t it working?  Why are companies still so disconnected from the needs of their customers? Read more

Driving a Customer Experience Culture Change – Interview with Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Prime Therapeutics

Aiming for the Heart of their Customers

This is the sixth in our Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers interview series, with seven Minnesota customer experience leaders sharing their strategy for the coming year. You can see all of the interviews here:

Overview

Prime Therapeutics (Prime) manages pharmacy benefits for health plans, employers, and government programs including Medicare and Medicaid. Prime is collectively owned by 13 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or affiliates of those plans, and Ingrid is the chief customer experience officer, a role she took in 2012 after serving as the customer experience officer at CIGNA.

Defining Customer ExperienceIngrid Lindberberg

“Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a company has with its customers. From who you are as a firm, to your mission, value and purpose, all the way through to how you price your products. It’s about what you bring to the market, and how you talk about yourself, whether in the public relations world or how you answer the phone. It’s the sum of everything you do.” Read more