Developing a Framework to Manage the Customer Experience

Are you seriously thinking about customer experience in your organisation? Behind all of the buzz words there is a science; however, getting it right is not always that easy. Some people may say that customer service and customer experience are all about the soft skills in a business; in fact, many refer to this as ‘fluff’. Whilst the ‘fluff’ might be the term to describe this, it will always be ‘fluff’ unless it is framed correctly. Framed in such a way that people can make sense out of it all. In order to do this for your organisation, it takes sound coordination and acumen to set up a framework to make it work logically.

The moment an organisation has one customer, all of a sudden, customer service has been provided and a customer experience is perceived. Multiply this by all of your customers over the course of the lifespan of your business and you have a whole lot of stuff, or ‘fluff’ sitting there. Now, many of those who have read my blogs would be familiar with the DIME™ approach to customer service (Deliberate Interactions Memorable Experiences™). I’ve written a lot about how to use this approach throughout your organisation, but what I haven’t covered is how to set up a structure around the DIME™ approach so that it will work for the long term.

Technically you could say we are going back to the 1-0-1 of customer experience by showing you that the DIME™ approach alone is simple enough to set up for your organisation. With all of your knowledge to this point, it is like the Star Wars series. The first three movies are not always the start of the story! The following four areas can be used as a framework to manage the customer experience in your organisation.

1. Coordination

As I mentioned previously, there is a lot of ‘fluff’ or perhaps ‘data’ as a more technical term that is completely available for free the moment you have just one customer. Making sense out of it all requires coordination. Managing customer experience in a coordinated way doesn’t just make life so much easier, rather it sets a foundation to not only make more sense out of things, but to systematise the process of customer experience management. Think of it like a mail filing system. If you were to separate the alphabet into four, you might do A–G, H–M, N–S, T–Z. So, now any incoming mail is filed into one of four sections instead of 26. From a customer experience management perspective, these four areas could be:

  • Organisational attitudes;
  • People behaviours;
  • Knowing and understanding customers; and
  • Increasing the value for customers.

2. Implementation

If you looked at how your organisation either scores or is tracking in relation to customer experience, would you know exactly what you are doing right and what can be improved? Most people are able to know what they can do to improve; it’s often what’s being done well that is hard to quantify. For example, can you actually pinpoint the exact thing that you are doing which creates the successes you are achieving? So, the second part of the framework for customer experience management is all about the implementation. In other words, the things you have to do in your organisation that lead to the successes. Like the mail filing system in the previous point, you may have another number of subfolders in order to ‘action’ the mail. From a customer experience management perspective, these four areas could be:

  • Employee experience for engagement;
  • Customer care for improvement;
  • Customer feedback for intelligence; and
  • Customer experience for innovation.

3. Review

Earlier I referred to the term ‘fluff’ or ‘data’ in terms of the things you can tap into to help simplify customer experience. In addition to this data, there is more data coming in. Let me tell you, this secondary data is more than most people can handle. We call this stuff ‘feedback’. Now this feedback comes in thick and fast, given the digitalised world we live in today. As we use the mail analogy, some of it is junk, others are bills (which we don’t want but have to accept), others are things we need but have little value, and occasionally we get those gifts that we’ve ordered which surprise us. Customer feedback works in exactly the same way, and we need to create a series of subfolders yet again to help us make sense of it all. All of this feedback comes at no cost, so it is best to keep as much as we can as it is all essential for customer experience management. Your four mail categories could be:

  • Listening to customers;
  • Insights from customers;
  • Improving with customers; and
  • Planning for customers.

4. Responsibility

Before we do the last point, let’s look at our journey so far. We’ve set up our filing system, to keep things more structured. We have structure around the way we do business and even have structure around incoming data. The only thing left to do is delegate this data to the right people. It is no surprise that in order to succeed at customer service you need the right people in your organisation, but to manage customer experience ongoing, you need to make sure there is structure around this too. Otherwise you get everybody doing the same thing, which inevitably means someone will cross over and affect the work of another. This is why responsibility mindsets need to be developed so that staff members know how to think about customer experience management. These four areas are:

  • Functional: To correct;
  • Operational: To execute;
  • Emotional: To analyse;
  • Constructive: To grow

These four areas are the key to an effective customer experience framework; however, in isolation they don’t fit into the bigger picture — the DIME™ approach. The way to do this is to take the first bullet point from each area and put them together under ‘D’. Then the second from each and put them under ‘I’. Likewise, with the third and fourth under ‘M’ and ‘E’, respectively. The end result should look like the table below:

Deliberately making customer service part of your business culture Developing human connections through customer service interactions Leaving positive memories with customers Designing total brand experiences at every point of customer contact
Organisational attitudes People behaviours Knowing and understanding customers Increasing the value for customers
Employee experience for engagement Customer care for improvement Customer feedback for intelligence Customer experience for innovation
Listening to customers Insights from customers Improving with customers Planning for customers
Functional: To correct Operational: To execute Emotional: To analyse Constructive: To grow

Does it make more sense all of a sudden? Coordination, implementation, review and responsibility across the DIME™ Customer Service approach creates the framework for all of the things I have previously blogged about. The next four blog posts will examine each line horizontally in greater detail so the framework can be put together.

Chris Smoje is a customer service speaker, trainer, facilitator and founder of the DIME™ Customer Service approach. Chris works with organisations and their people to develop a common interest and excitement about delivering exceptional customer service results:

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