by Ben Watson
In the final instalment in this three-part series, Ben Watson, CMO of WhatsNexx and former VP Marketing of HootSuite explores some tools that promote shared understanding and shape explicit requirements for improvements to customer experience.
Scott Brinker postulates that the rise of a marketing technologist role serves a purpose to more effectively straddle the gaps between strategy and delivery. These tools in turn lend themselves to collaborative development and agile marketing principles being applied to iterative work, informed by data from live experimentation’
As a technologist striving to have applications widely adopted, I find myself on a quest for patterns: patterns for our users that are repeatedly useful, usable, easy to find, credible and, ultimately, successful at solving an identified problem or achieving a known goal. As the increase in focus on great customer experience matures, so does the practice and rigour associated with defining the patterns of engagement. It’s fair to think of increased investments in great user experience as a discovery of true patterns – the right investments presented in the context required for the right happy customers and happy employees to use your apps.
I’m on a journey. There is no map. Follow me. Make one.
There are myriad approaches to building, documenting and sharing customer experience journey maps. In the last couple of years, so many examples have been put online that it’s hard to beat Google as a resource. Pick your poison.
Analysts, industry experts, leading digital marketers and customer experience professionals have identified a key tool in this process to be a journey map of all the customer touch points across all stages of awareness, engagement and loyalty. This map can be used in several strategic ways:
• To identify and plot persona against specific moments or opportunities
• To understand and modify business processes in order to overcome obstacles or bottlenecks
• To inform design and technology choices and prioritize resources against those choices
• To define Key Performance Indicators (KPI) based on customer moments
• To refine opportunities for increased productivity by aggregating logical groups of actions
This abstraction serves a unique purpose in planning and development. By creating handshakes between the user experience professionals who own the experience and the developers who own the implementation of the application, we in turn empower handshakes between customers and the business.
Bruce Temkin, a leading practitioner in customer experience, adds that now we need to consider the future-proofing of this process. In addition to defining the process for creating these customer journey maps, the research also identified three areas that are critical for making them sustainable:
- Widely sharing customer journey maps. To set the stage for company-wide improvements, firms need to share insights from customer journey maps with stakeholders across the company.
- Taking action on the insight. Customer experience executives need to methodically identify and prioritize opportunities, while drawing on executive support and past successes to move their organizations forward.
- Sustaining the learnings over time. To keep journey maps alive, firms need to identify journey map owners and monitor customer feedback as well as organizational progress over time.
Pushing the priorities understood from this process into employee behaviours and user experiences now becomes fundamentally easier. While it might be easy to get caught up in the myriad options and potential forks in the individual roads, smart and capable teams can effectively prioritize the paths of least resistance and the highest value investments from the shared vision of these journeys.
Ask yourself who shares this vision with you, how you will visualize and report on success, and how you will update this based on what you have learned.
Pushing the priorities understood from this process into employee behaviours and user experiences now becomes fundamentally easier. While it might be easy to get caught up in the myriad options and potential forks in the individual roads, smart and capable teams can effectively prioritize the paths of least resistance and the highest value investments from the shared vision of these journeys
For example, wireframes that represent the experience layer and interaction model can be made interactive in such a way as to represent the potential interaction; elsewhere in the team, those interactions can be wired to the application and business logic. These can be tested with actual customers or users in order to further refine logic and interaction models, along with general usability themes such as accessibility, both prior to implementation and over time.
Suck less. Be awesome more. Please.
A user’s experience is impacted by many things – such as network issues, device or operating system issues, IT policies, or even physical distractions – that are beyond the control of marketers and designers. What is within our control is exhibiting a shared understanding of goals and interaction capabilities, and providing this in a consistent way to support the brands we represent.
One could choose platforms and tools that effectively reduce the time it takes for you to develop the final experience with a component model based on user experience best practices. In this way, you can adapt to changes in contextual trends at the edges of your business, and put your new passion for these signals, moments and journeys to work in helping to sustain and grow your business.
Finally, we need to reflect the outcomes of design in our application logic and infrastructure, in much the same way that our employees build their best practices on a foundation of departmental goals and executive priorities. The unshakable foundation is a functional architecture where we can surface experience layers that bridge the “last mile” gap between customers and the business.
Semantically, the user experience/employee layer essentially represents the presentation layer of applications (e.g., interaction models such as ‘touch’ and service notions such as ‘smile’) with the knowledge of domain, integration and the associated infrastructure.
True multi-channel delivery of great customer experiences can now effectively be managed as moments, each moment thus enabled through an abstraction of careful and thoughtful presentation that intentionally separates the constraints of channels, governance, controls and interaction itself from the fundamental underlay of business logic and goals. We all need both the ability and the freedom to deliver a great experience.
Do this and listen for my feedback. I roar.
Ben Watson, CMO of WhatsNexx is a trusted expert in marketing technology and in the agile delivery of platforms and campaigns that define exceptional customer experience. Formerly the VP Marketing of HootSuite, and a Principal Customer Experience and Enterprise User Experience strategist at Adobe, he was responsible for working across those organizations to optimize the customer journey and define industry-leading platforms. Prior to joining Adobe, Watson served as Director of Product Strategy for Yahoo! and as a leader for Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft. He also spent several years in the advertising agency and publishing space in varied roles such as Creative Director for format::idea and CTO for Toronto Life and FASHION Magazine.