Customer experience research: why it’s not a ‘cow and scale’ story

When it comes to customer experience practices, many companies have a mature process in place to measure touchpoints on an ongoing basis, and to manage and improve their touchpoint satisfaction. Yet therein lies the conundrum: “You can’t fatten a cow by weighing it”.

Stop tracking for the sake of tracking

By tracking your current touchpoint performance, you can only improve what you’re doing already; but there may very well be needs or touchpoints you haven’t yet considered. These practices address the touchpoint performance rather than that they bring understanding of one’s relevance at key moments in the customer journey. At best they will spark some incremental improvement, yet they often fail to entail the development of new experiences. In the end, it makes for a conservative view, not at all in touch with your number one stakeholder: the customer. Or to stick with the cow analogy: even if you measure a cow every hour, its weight will not increase. On the contrary, trotting a cow on and off a scale every hour might even make it lose weight. To fatten the cow, one must act and develop insights on the needs and behaviours that will make a cow gain weight.

When defining a customer experience program, one will eventually need a tracking practice. Yet there more to CX research then tracking. To avoid the above, it’s important to also install a process for detecting, innovating and implementing relevant experiences using an iterative approach.

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Building blocks of CX Research

Before measuring and tracking one’s touchpoint performance, one must understand and map out the full journey. This starts with developing a Customer Experience Strategy, where the existing (business) knowledge is harvested and the journey is mapped from a truly customer-first perspective (beyond one’s own products or touchpoints). Here it is essential to look at which consumer needs arise where. The CX Development phase focusses on exploring and testing new solutions to address the identified needs. Yet ideation means nothing without implementation, therefore it is important to move on to the prototype phase as quickly as possible. The ideation and prototype phases ought to be fast, iterative processes with short and quick feedback loops, alternating consumer and business perspective.

The VW CX Revolution

Consider the following program we ran in collaboration with Volkswagen Poland. The car manufacturer understood that, in a growing homogenic market, Customer Experience is a core differentiator. The objective of the research was to come up with consumer-centric CX solutions. To fuel the program with consumer insights, we installed an online community with 200 carefully screened consumers for participating in quant & qual challenges. Subsequent interviews with Volkswagen personnel, their various dealerships allowed to identify and map ten core needs experienced by virtually any buyer.

These needs were translated into different jobs to be done (JTBD), where every JTBD represents a specific moment in the journey, where a specific need arises, with a specific task connected to it. In a next step the core jobs to focus on were identified by evaluating each job in terms of relevance, current performance and business impact. The CX Development phase for Volkswagen used a multi-disciplinary approach involving employees, consumers and creatives, each bringing a different perspective to the table. The ideation exercises with VW stakeholders in co-creation with our eÿeka creative consumers network resulted in 11 concepts, which were fueled back and tested in the online consumer community. The winning concepts have been prototyped and are currently in a live test environment in the Volkswagen Home concept store. Together with real consumers in a real sales environment, they are being tested and optimized, to help roll out these features in the wider VW network

As the framework shows, Customer Experience Tracking is not the end game, yet solely a means to an end and part of a bigger picture and program. The CX Tracking module closes the loop highlighting performance of the difference (new) touchpoint dimensions and flagging areas of improvement. To fatten the cow, ultimately you will have to change its diet, and only then will it make sense to start weighing it.

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Curious about how you can speed up your CX initiatives?

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This article first appeared in the Feb-April 2020 – CX,UX & Research Design – Research News by The Research Society, Australia’s research association.

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Christophe Vergult
Global Customer Experience Expert
Managing Partner

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