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Home » Learning Zone » Business Alchemists Blog » Customer Journeys – Getting the Balance Right with David Beckham
David Beckham
Customer Journeys – Getting the Balance Right with David Beckham

David Beckham, Principal Consultant, ChuDo Consulting

The majority of businesses who share their vision/values/mission statement with the wider world invariably include a statement about the customer, or the customer centricity of their business in order to demonstrate that they are really thinking about the customer experience they wish to create. In the most part these declarations are sincere and are reflected in the companies’ everyday business and provide a driver for innovation or renovation within the company structure and services.

This can be a big item for a Business Analyst, who, as the facilitator of change needs to keep these company ambitions in the forefront of their (and the change team’s) mind whilst carrying out their assignment. However, care must be utilised when applying these customer ambitions as to whether they are an accurate reflection of the actual customer needs. Here are a few of the potential pitfalls when developing customer aspirations:

Conflation – quite often an organisation inaccurately combines their own needs with that of the customer. This can take the form of a statement such as this. “We must save money in order to give the customer the value that they need from us; therefore, we are closing our call centres to reduce costs…” Now, at first glance this may seem like a perfectly reasonable statement (unless you are an employee in the call centre) but when we look at it more closely we see there is no real factual evidence connecting the three major parts of the statement. This becomes clear when we examine the objective methodically like this

Objective

Rationale

Outcome

Save Money

Customer likes a company that manages its costs                

Close Call Centres

It is very likely that the objective shown above is predominantly an internally driven one which has been combined with an assumed customer view to rationalise the actions taken and thus justify the outcome. In this case, as with many other challenges the BA faces, an effort must be made to obtain the facts of the matter in order to test the requirements. The above model may be useful as general rule of thumb when checking statements made by stakeholders; it might seem laborious and perhaps overdoing things but if you don’t fully understand the customer you won’t fully address the right business problem/opportunity…. So let’s play a creativity game, using the “what if….?” technique* What if we made the customer rationale the objective? Would the outcome be different?

Objective

Rationale

Outcome

Customer is kept informed of cost management               

 

Our research suggests the Customer likes a company that manages its costs                

 

Publicise cost figures honestly and openly to gain integrity, actively promote dialogue

Engage customers to get their suggestions, promotes sense of community

Incentivise cost management ideas from employees in an inclusive not punitive fashion

We can see from this table that the outcome is very different, involving more dialogue and inclusive actions. It is possible that this is an overly optimistic scenario based on my inherently positive outlook but maybe; maybe not!

Assumption – it can be quite easy for companies to assume they know exactly who their customers are and as an extension of this certainty know exactly what they want. The only way this can be really guaranteed is by going out and actually talking to them, either via internally commissioned surveys or by engaging external marketing research companies who will talk to customers on their behalf. Even then care must be applied when reviewing the final results as any disparity in the data may lead to misleading trends in the results. It is important to be rigorous when analysing the information gleaned from a survey and equally important to closely examine the criteria for enlisting survey respondents as this can cause bias in the results.

False separation from the customer – it can be quite easy for organisations to construct un-necessary barriers between the customer and themselves i.e. “We are an (________) company, who exist in a complex environment of legislation therefore we have the desired expertise necessary to plot the journey of the customer through this environment…..” WARNING: Any application or system designed by an expert is likely to develop from a position of nerding-out on the subject at hand. A case in point being an expenses system I encountered in my previous employment. This was an expenses system obviously designed by expense experts for expense experts who may I contest really like expense processing and the opaque elitist language it thrives in. If you didn’t fit into that somewhat limiting customer persona you were, to coin a phrase, on your own.

It’s also possible to forget that we are all, for the most part, customers.  I am sure we all make online transactions daily yet we still forget that pool of knowledge once we assume the role of company person. Yet it is very effective to train our eye on something with a customer perspective… “How would I feel if I had to do this…..?” and using our past experience to identify working analogies to use. I once found myself having a conversation about a prototype website in which my internal stakeholders insisted that in order to bring relevant product information back to the customer (which was complicated by the tangled legacy IT estate of several mergers) the customer would have to log in every time they wanted to look at a different product family e.g. saver or borrower  products. I was able to use an analogy based on Amazon to counter this, suggesting that if I had to log in again every time I swapped from CDs to DVDs I would soon find a different provider. So don’t shut off your own experience when it comes to specifying requirements.

Embrace Exceptionality – We still tend to forget the people amongst us who are different for whatever reason. I am ‘diff-abled’ (differently-abled) due to having Parkinson’s Disease. This can make otherwise straightforward tasks very difficult which can fundamentally alter my experience of a service that other people have no issue with. Let me cite two examples…

Self-service check-outs in supermarkets – it would be fascinating to know what the original business case was for these machines. I suspect that it was originally couched in terms of customer convenience but would imagine that a lot of the enthusiasm from senior management level was the potential to reduce staff headcount at the tills. Most shoppers probably have no problem with this new innovation and it’s fair to say that I don’t when my medication is working. But when it isn’t and I effectively have 0.9 out of 2 hands functioning it can be a really difficult experience, particularly when it comes to packing and paying. It is a fact that if I am particularly ‘off’ I may well discriminate against shops that exclusively use this feature as it can be very handy to have a human to assist.

The new ten and twenty British Pound Notes – I suspect these slippery monstrosities have been designed to be heavily forgery proof but the new plastic like properties may be difficult to fake but they’re also incredibly difficult to fold and secure within my wallet when I only have one tremor-free hand.

I understand that neither of these examples were deliberately designed to have the effect of making my life more difficult but it would be interesting to know if my situation or the wide range of other circumstances of people we may encounter are fully considered in the design process. As I alluded to earlier BAs are the natural champion of such points of view within the change delivery world; someone has to be to make sure all customers are treated with fairness and consideration and it may as well be us BAs!!     

*For more on this technique check out ‘The Magic of Crazytivity’ by Butzi                   

If your BA role requires greater consideration of the customer experience you can complete further reading and study in this area. We have a short video on the subject click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqhgjAsTt_o as well as a course dedicated to this subject click here https://www.assistkd.com/courses/classroom/customer-experience-analysis     

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