Even though we’ve now passed the peak of the pandemic and the changes that it brought, as Forrester rightfully mentions, we are still solidly in the “Age of the Customer,” where a connected experience is still key to hearts and wallets.
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In last month’s newsletter article, we discussed the importance of using Agile approaches in leveraging customer-centricity and rapid experimentation for Connected Experiences (CE). This month, we will explore how you can build the best connected experience team to tackle the challenges that arise with all customer interactions in which there's a gap or challenge.
Start with your challenges
Before diving into team composition and dynamics, some business introspection is required. Start with the challenges you’d like the team to tackle—this will determine the most suitable composition for your CE lineup.
Here are some good questions to help you get started:
- Who are my customers?
- What do I already know about my customers?
- What pain points are my customers experiencing?
- Which customers are churning? And why?
- Which competitors are scooping up my customers?
- Where is innovation needed the most?
- Where do I see higher ROI?
To hire the right people for your CE team, consider which skills you will need to help answer the above questions, and build that knowledge into your business practices and implementation capabilities. Further questions to help you refine your thinking on team composition can be:
- Who’s currently working on the challenges?
- How do I build the required capabilities?
- Which capabilities require external resources?
- What cultural changes will it involve?
- Where will these capabilities sit? (Centrally, regionally, or a combination)?
- How easy will it be to scale the capabilities?
How to create your CE Team
According to data from the XM Institute, organizations with a centralized team for customer experience tend to have designated roles for customer experience. These roles include VoC (Voice of the Customer), data analytics, design, sales, engineering, IT, as well as internal communications.
When building a CE Team, there are further stakeholders to consider - they too should be involved in the CE process or at least be kept informed of the processes and decisions the CE Team is considering. Next, we’ll be exploring what these roles might look like.
Key roles in your CE Team
You should start with the customer problem you are trying to solve. Take, for example, the insurance claims user scenario we mentioned in our previous newsletter where a customer calls their insurance company after surviving an accident. What sort of team do you need to support their journey so they can achieve what they want, with as little effort as possible?
This CE Team needs to explore claims processing options that will work best for the customer by leveraging agile practices. You’ll be able to assess the capabilities needed based on the hypothesis they need to test.
Below are some of the more common roles/responsibilities within a connected experience task force—these may have different job titles depending on the size of your business:
1. The Core CE Team—this team will be actively involved and invested in creating a connected experience for your customers. Typically, it will be: composed of:
- Creates the strategy to achieve the desired customer outcome.
- Initiates a springboard with data and insights to understand customers—journey mapping, personas, surveys.
- Gathers and clarifies project requirements.
- Identifies key metrics to be tracked and linked to business outcomes.
- Manages change or operational functions: tools, processes, change management, internal communications.
- Educates the rest of the business about customers and their experiences.
- Centers your product around the customer.
- Applies design thinking/journey mapping and designs the experience.
- Co-creates new experiences with customers.
- Ensures that the solution design meets the customer requirements.
- Supports the Product Owners and leads the technical development process.
- Speeds up the process between prototyping and production by providing fast feedback from customers.
- Offers feedback to your business and champions good customer outcomes. Provides direction for the work needed to better understand customers.
2. Involved Stakeholders—these people are involved in your CE project by providing regular input to move strategies and projects forward. These roles can be:
These can be C-Level Executives that ensure the new strategy changes are approved in time so projects can move along – CCO, CRO, CIO, and sometimes the CEO.
Other Heads of Departments
They are most affected by the project but not part of the Core Team. For example, in the insurance claims processing case illustrated in our previous issue, the heads of the customer service and fraud prevention departments can be engaged as Involved Stakeholders.
Subject Matter Experts
For particular problems, for example, as described in our insurance claims scenario, if the customer pain point involves the lack of a self-service option, the team can actively engage a subject matter expert, and even include them in the Core Team as needed.
3. Informed Stakeholders—these people need to stay updated and provide feedback when necessary to support the development of your CE projects:
To ensure project success, the Core CE Team (usually the Business Owner) needs to secure financial support and measure against the agreed ROI with Finance. This will also help the team rally up further support when ramping up the project and scaling.
They advise on the feasibility and risks of new projects, together with any regulatory concerns.
It’s crucial you understand the level of focus your CE Team needs to have and, subsequently, get the right talent on board:
“You can cut down a tree with a hammer, but it takes about 30 days. If you trade the hammer for an ax, you can cut it down in about 30 minutes. The difference between 30 days and 30 minutes is skills.”
How to set your CE Team up for success
Here are the key characteristics that are important to consider when creating your CE Team:
The team decides how they work, and there is no hierarchy as everyones’ voice is valued equally. For example, when it comes to technical changes to products, Product Owners ultimately decide priorities, but all other discussions are guided by the Scrum Master towards a solution everybody agrees with.
The team should possess all the necessary knowledge to deliver a working product—this knowledge should be spread amongst team members.
The entire team ideally would be sitting in the same room to avoid barriers in communication. In recent years, co-located teams have transformed into hybrid teams or even completely remote ones to accommodate the pandemic restrictions.
Keeping the teams together and not making frequent changes is also a key element to success.
Align your CE Team’s activities with customer outcomes
Delivering your improved customer experience starts with seizing the current shift in customer expectations and operating environment as an opportunity to refocus and re-ignite momentum.
Instead of trying to be all things to all people, define which customers you can serve best. To achieve a good amount of progress, you must have a thorough comprehension of how customer expectations are changing. Then create a company culture that moves at the same pace as those expectations.
Know your new buyers and influencers.
Customer landscape is an ever-changing environment—customer segmentation may remain the same, but the customer persona undergoes frequent change. It’s important to be familiar with these emerging personas in the decision-making process.
Distill and centralize customer insights.
Your employees must know where to look for information and resources that will help them establish rapport and relevancy with today's customers. Making it simple for employees to obtain and digest customer insights is essential for creating a connected experience.
Redefine Customer Success.
Which has a stronger correlation with your company's results: customer outcomes or customer experiences? Customers are willing to put up with less-than-ideal experiences in critical moments if the actual results meet or surpass their expectations. Focusing on outcomes isn't new, but how businesses organize themselves around them is.
Big picture thinking for long-term success
Earlier in the article, we mentioned the importance of company culture in making sure your connected experience strategy and team succeed. It’s equally essential for the Project Sponsors or Company CEOs to continuously reinforce customer-centricity in everything the company does.
Being customer-centric means focusing every aspect of your businesses—from marketing and sales to product development and support—on customer needs and interests, prioritizing clients’ long-term successes over short-term business goals.
Internal Communication plays an important role here, and it’s essential to make use of all-hands meetings, company-wide emails, or other internal communication tools to remind employees how a connected experience approach contributes to the company’s growth and their individual success.
Taking this a step further, it’s equally important to evaluate whether your company vision and aspirations are aligned with what truly matters to customers. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:
- What is your company’s plan for change in the near term? Is it about fundamentally changing the customer experience or simply about improving it marginally?
- What is the gap between the needs and wants of customers and what they actually experience when interacting with your company?
- How can your business gain a CE advantage against competitors?
- Which point in the customer experience should the company focus on to have a real and lasting impact?
- How do the overall capabilities of your colleagues support the customer interactions, and how well are these capabilities aligned with your business values?
Do the work
As the market, your customers, and your team change, and as you learn, you’ll discover that creating a connected experience is an ongoing process that must adapt over time. You may add new support channels, choose new tools, or set new targets with your team as needed. While the execution will need to adapt to changing conditions, the CE principles will remain the same.
Look for our September issue where we cover the design approach that’s optimized for prototyping CE features!
This article is part of the Connections Now newsletter.
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