I’m probably dating myself slightly… but, this (not so) old Billy Preston song could easily describe the way the customer experience is managed by most companies. The experience customers have with most businesses is like a “song that ain’t got no melody” or, as the next verse goes, “a dance that ain’t got no steps.” The customer experience is all over the place… some times it works… most times it doesn’t… usually it’s inconsistent and disjointed… essentially ad hoc.
One of the most critical elements of moving to a more repeatable, consistent, or designed experience is a Customer Experience Specification. This Specification acts like a requirements document that clearly describes the experience the organization intends its customers to have. A Customer Experience Specification is a powerful way to align the efforts of the many individual areas of the company that often contribute to the design and delivery of interactions that influence the customers’ experience.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve refined our approach to these Customer Experience Specifications. After a lot of trial and error, we’ve settled into an approach that is highly customer-centric rather than company-centric. The CE Spec considers three things: 1) What are the customers’ most critical situations… the moments of truth from the customers’ perspective?, 2) When the customer is in that situations, what outcomes do we consistently produce for the customer?, and 3) How do we produce those outcomes in a way that influences the customers’ perceptions, interpretations, and evaluations of the experience they’ve had with our organization?
Getting aligned on the Customer Experience Specification is a pivotal element of any effort to gain control of or significantly redesign the customer experience. This “requirements document” can be used to holistically design processes, roles, structure, metrics, technology, etc… to ensure that the organization can consistently deliver the specified experience.
This Customer Experience Specification also provides a way for moving beyond simple customer satisfaction measurement… “are customers’ happy with what we do?” This Customer Experience Specification allows you to measure “are customers’ having the specific, differentiated experience we intend them to have?”
Across our research and advisory work with companies, we’ve observed that only about one in ten have clearly described the intended customer experience. Without this critical first step, these companies end in a “dance that ain’t got no steps.” I’ve seen too many dance floors to know that very few can pull off the… “gonna let the music move me around” strategy.