Part 5: Managing The Customer Experience

by | Nov 13, 2015

In our experience most customer experiences go haywire for two reasons:

  1. It wasn’t intentionally designed in the first place
  2. It isn’t managed

We broadly covered the first issue in part 3 of this series (and will do so in more detail in the coming weeks). Let’s start out today by looked at a real example of the second issue:

A mobile telecom company that primarily sold pre-paid phones was suffering from a higher rate of customer attrition than it thought was warranted. It asked for help figuring out what was causing the customers to leave and for help fixing the issues. Three things were quickly uncovered:

  • The company didn’t know what its customers were actually experiencing with it.
  • There were broken, glitchy, and/or poorly designed elements in the customers’ experience which were causing customers to not achieve their goal and to get very frustrated.
  • The experience wasn’t being holistically managed and many parts of the experience weren’t being managed at all which led to a number of the issues listed above and an ongoing lack of awareness of ongoing problems.

These three things were causing havoc in the customer experience. To address them the company needed to get a solid understanding of what the customers were actually experiencing (see  figure 1), understand the hot spots of bad experience (see  figure 2), understand who was in charge (or not in charge) of the experience elements today (see figure 3), and make sure there were people and departments accountable to manage the customer experience going forward (see figure 4) before they could start fixing the experience and improving their attrition numbers.

And, indeed, this specific company benefited greatly from implementing a customer experience management process – it was able to reduce its customer attrition by 50%: It repaired a few of its customer experience hot spots that were damaging their customers’ experience, it maintain maps and process diagrams of what different customer segments were really experiencing as well as what the company believed it was offering (see more about this here), and it coordinated a cross-functional customer experience team that worked together to manage this experience as a Whole Offering every day.

Figure 1: Illustrative high-level customer experience map: what customers were
really experiencing (below)


Figure 2: Illustrative hot spot map: parts of the customer experience that were going
really wrong (below)


Figure 3: Illustrative responsibility map: what was actually happening in the
management of the customer experience (below)

Slide5Figure 4: Illustrative responsibility map: what should be happening (below)


Just like that company, almost all organizations will benefit from managing its Customer Experience and its customers’ experience just as it would any other business process. Tomorrow we will talk about measuring, adjusting, and optimizing the customer experience and that will make it even more obvious that a customer experience is just like a product or a business process. Leave it alone for too long and it goes off the rails.

At a high level, here is how we look at the managing step:

  1. Choose your management orientation
  2. Commit people to it
  3. Develop ongoing metrics
  4. Tend to it daily


1. Choose your management orientation

If you read about customer experience you may have noticed that many practitioners talk about the customer experience solely in terms of touchpoints (web, phone, retail store, etc.) At Ceatro Group we think managing by touchpoint is a company-centric way of doing it that leaves the customers’ side of the experience out of the equation. However, it is one way to choose to manage the experience.

There are other angles too:

  • From the customer activity point of view (like in the example above)
  • From the vantage point of customer decisions
  • From an internal process and function point of view (we don’t recommend this)

We have our favorite (from the customer activity point of view) but in the end it doesn’t matter as long as you pick one and manage the Whole Offering this way. See our definition of customer experience to understand all the bits and parts that make up the Whole Offering.

2. Commit people to it

We don’t think you need to form an entirely new customer experience department to do this. We advocate for a customer experience overlay that is managed by executives, is staffed by coaches and customer experience practitioners, and which is tasked with embedding customer experience into everyone’s job until there is no more need for a customer experience overlay team.

Managing parts of the customer experience, coordinating with other teams, and ensuring a smoothly run experience requires people and teams to have this as part of their day job and to have a cross-functional team and leader to hold them accountable. This requires proper resource allocation for the ongoing effort of managing the customer experience. Hopefully the tasks and the team responsibilities will make sense in existing jobs once the organization gets oriented around a customer experience mindset and roles are rationalized.

3. Develop ongoing metrics

Consider this the 10,000 foot view of customer experience metrics and we promise to write more about them soon.  We like to think of customer experience metrics like this:

  • 4 layers of metrics that feed into each other and then ultimately feed into the critical business metrics: overarching customer experience metrics, feature level metrics, process level metrics, and operational level metrics
  • Each layer is split into two types of metrics that together show the full picture: customer-oriented metrics and company-oriented metrics
  • Each is then split into metrics for different internal audiences and problem solving: executive, departmental, technical, etc.
  • Metric definition and specificity comes from knowing your experience, your customers, and your business very well. There really are no off the shelf metrics.

Traditionally organizations measure things in a way that lets them take action inside their walls. These are the company-oriented metrics. Customers measure things in a way that makes sense to their life, regardless of how a company measures them. These are customer-oriented metrics. (You won’t be able to design a great customer experience without these in the design phase so by this point you should have them defined.)
If you only look at one set of metrics you can’t see the entire picture and you surely won’t get to a resolution or a solution that will satisfy all parties.

Here are two examples:

Measuring what? Customer-Oriented Company-Oriented
  • Traffic congestion
Average time to get home from work Count of cars per mile at any given hour
  • Dropped calls
Calls dropped in a day Packets dropped in a minute

4. Tend to it daily

This isn’t a part time thing. The customer experience happens every day and so should the management of it. The same rigor that is applied to managing everything else in the business (there is rigor, right?) should be applied here.  This will shorten the length of time that problems exist in the customer experience because the team will seem them relatively quickly through the daily, weekly, and monthly management activities. Executives should be asking for the customer experience management data as routinely as they ask for sales numbers and teams should be ready.

Tomorrow: Measuring it and adjusting it

6 Part Blog Series: What Does It Take To Actually Make a Great Customer Experience Happen

Originally published on September 26, 2013