Designers of compelling end-to-end customer experiences, ThoughtFull uses a multifaceted approach – research, design, innovation, and storytelling – enabling businesses and brands to redefine their future.
We know, and you know customer experience (CX) is hot in the business world right now. Viewed as a vital ingredient to commercial success, organisations are scrambling to build the capability and resources needed to effectively practice it. Few are succeeding in shaping exceptional customer experiences, often opting to focus on incrementalism. The reasons for this are multi-faceted, layered and complex.
Great customer experiences are born from an organisation’s vision and culture and often built over time – unless of course you’re a new disruptive start-up where legacy systems, culture and structures don’t hold you back. Great customer experience emerges when organisations show real love and care for their customer – deeper, enduring and meaningful. The little things really matter but the big things matter more and that’s why design is so important. Design is how you continually unearth those unobvious things that really matter to people and how you then translate those insights into much improved or even new products and services. By lifting the bar, thinking broadly and creating a strategy for a continuously evolving world, customer experience shifts from being finite and tactical to being strategic and ever-evolving.
Recent times have seen a huge shift in customer experience towards becoming more digital. Now, more than ever it’s time to lift the thinking from just building generic and often soulless digital moments toward distinctive, magical moments that deliver on the emotional attributes of your brand. Does the Air New Zealand mobile app really need an animated coffee cup filling? No – but that’s one aspect customers love about them.
Take a moment and think about your bank app. If you made all the bank mobile apps black and white would you really know who’s app it was? We doubt it.
The image alongside shows the elements that can either turbo-charge or torpedo a customer experience ambition. The goal is to align these essential building blocks across an organisation if you want to transform your customer experience. Each needs to work together for the ultimate nirvana – customer advocacy.
We’ve helped clients of all sizes achieve breakthroughs, and in our experience it takes a truly integrated and aligned approach to transform an organisation’s view on customer experience. Here are some thoughts, observations and actions we think are paramount in order to build an organisational culture where customer advocacy is at the fore.
From the Heart
It is only when CX is at the heart of the business that we no longer see teams being siloed or tasked with a focus on short term troubleshooting, and true transformation can be achieved.
Air New Zealand, a client of ours, is an excellent example of an organisation who has led in customer experience for over a decade. They shifted their culture towards customer centricity when their leader at the time, Rob Fyfe coined the phrase “From flying planes to flying people”. This stated intent was powerful enough to start shifting the organisation’s perspective on valuing what mattered to customers, which opened the door to a cultural transformation and ultimately brand and service innovation.
A shared vision
A shared and articulate vision for customer-led change across all levels of an organisation is a crucial first step to avoid business-as-usual objectives side lining CX initiatives. Internal CX champions need this vision to be aligned to strategic goals, internal desire and culture. This coupled with a clear roadmap on a way forward ensures everyone is aligned on expectations now, next and in the future.
Achieving executive level confidence and buy-in to a customer centred way of doing business is critical. Firstly, having the right people with capability and confidence to sell in and lead the CX process. Secondly, processes which employ a combination of tools and techniques that make sense and fit within the organisation’s capabilities, culture and customer experience vision. And thirdly, a combination of customer insights and data that provide credibility to solutions and mitigate the perception of risk, allowing for change.
By bringing the customers’ world and moments that matter into focus, an organisation is inspired to think more holistically about an end-to-end customer experience rather than individual interactions. Successful customer engagement is not just a point in time, or a problem to solve, rather it is deep understanding along with a wide perspective on the end to end experience your organisation delivers every day to your customer. Being able to see the whole is as important as focusing on the parts.
We look to integrate customer experience through four interconnected lenses, that interestingly, often only the customer experiences collectively; 1) human interaction between staff and customers, 2) processes customers need to undertake, 3) digital tools and products and their role, 4) physical space and its role – all playing a crucial part in delivering an integrated, adaptive and meaningful experience that matters.
The Power of Storytelling
Good storytelling alleviates the discomfort and pain associated with change. It’s about creating a compelling narrative that resonates and creates a true belief in the organisations ability to truly make a difference to their customers lives.
In 2013, Airbnb changed their story. From telling the story of a tech company, to a story of ‘trust’ – a company that understood and knew how to build an experience based on trust between two strangers – the host and the guest that shares their home.
We’ve seen the transformation when organisations embed a balance of both rational and emotional thinking across their business. Customers love it, employees love it and the customer relationship turns from short-term transactions to long-term relationships.
It’s about showing courage and helping create a company-wide culture shift that puts the customer at the centre.
ThoughtFull are customer experience architects. An award winning design consultancy working with a wide range of organisations, from start-ups to corporates, local to global, helping them envision the future of their business and supporting them on the journey to achieving it.