The proposition is simple. To become a great company, you must understand who your customers are and build a customer-centric culture that delivers on your brand promise all the time. The corollary is simple, too. You do that with software that works the way people work, not the way systems work.
To be competitive today, you must become obsessive about customer experience management. At the heart of this is delivering a customer experience that attracts new customers to your business, keeps current customers coming back, and generates a loyal base of advocates that amplifies your marketing message, while providing insight into new areas in which your business can grow.
Both Art and Science
There is both art and science to building a great customer experience. It starts with what I call Design Thinking and is captured at the beginning of any enterprise IT project. Imagining and building the architecture for an excellent customer experience must be the baseline proposition for any enterprise system today.
Design Thinking isn’t about visual design or “look and feel.” It’s about looking at a problem from the customer’s point of view. When you get this part of it right, it gives you more licence to engage with customers in an ongoing dialog – you can’t up sell if the customer experience is cumbersome or generic.
The goal is to deliver simpler, easier and more effective experiences to customers with software that is useful, intuitive and desirable. To do that, you must bring Design Thinking alongside technology consulting. When you do this you can solve some incredible challenges by blending a creative and holistic approach to user-centered design with a methodical and iterative approach to agile software development.
While the art of Design Thinking is about acting on intuition and instinct, the science of Design Thinking is achieved through measurement and optimization tools that only strong Web analytics can provide. Everything is measurable on the Web today. If it can be measured, it can be instrumented, and if it can be instrumented, it can be optimised.
The science of Design Thinking, therefore, let’s us apply everything we know about measuring the performance of a digital experience to the creation of digital experiences that have been informed through the art of Design Thinking.
How T-Mobile Did It
T-Mobile USA is a company on the leading edge of how to apply Design Thinking to customer experience management. T-Mobile serves more than 33 million mobile customers. The company recognised that its front line employees – representatives in retail stores and call centres – were having difficulty navigating their enterprise systems to quickly find information to handle even basic customer requests.
T-Mobile’s Design Thinking revelation happened when it decided to re-imagine the customer experience from the outside in. The company implemented a new universal user interface that could sit across all systems and channels, giving company representatives an easy-to-use, intuitive application to quickly access, review, and update customer information and process service requests. The new approach increased the potential of T-Mobile’s workforce, while empowering customers through a consistent, great customer experience that builds confidence and loyalty. T-Mobile has been able to achieve an eight to 10 second reduction in the time it takes its agents to resolve a customer call – an even more significant achievement when you consider its agents handle 220 million calls a year.
Bottom Line Pay Off
Design Thinking is something that is core to a consumer application’s inherent value. What’s encouraging is that companies are finally starting to assemble complete reference architectures for building modern day enterprise platforms. These offerings sit between traditional IT systems and a complex array of channels and devices that customers are using to access services. Capabilities range from simply enabling marketing within social communities, to dramatically improving digital marketing initiatives by upgrading content management systems.
Once you incorporate Design Thinking into your overall enterprise IT plan, technology innovation becomes part of the complete approach to delivering solutions that are easier to use, more intuitive and more apt to please your customer. It takes into account business processes, transactions, the user interface, personalisation, recommendations, measurement – and all the relevant touch points that today’s customers actively use — tablets, smart phones, computers, TVs and so on. What you get is a well orchestrated series of customer interactions that covers the customer life cycle, from acquiring and servicing them, to retaining and motivating them to be advocates for your brand and your business. All of which help manage – and improve – your bottom line.