Continuous customer experience — service designing

Clayton M. Christensen, one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth, in his book – Competing Against Luck elaborates on why some companies excel at satisfying customer needs while others fail. He calls it the “Jobs to be done theory” which essentially is a means to identify customer needs and build products and service around those needs, instead of pushing a product and expecting the customer to fall for the bait. Customers want a certain product or service to solve a void in their lives and if the product/service not only fills that gap but also resolves multiple other needs and adds value, then even better.

Enhancing the customer experience requires organisations to understand different service interactions that customers experience and the potential for value addition within the same. The product/service provider should not confine their design thinking to their immediate customer but also envision the needs of the extended customer, the consumer of the customer (B2B2C). A seamless customer experience entails identifying the gaps in the customer needs across the touch-points and connecting the dots. Most of the times customers perceive the gaps in the services when they are handed from one division to another, within an organisation, making the behind the scene silos obvious.

Customer journey landscape

Creating continuous or seamless customer experiences should begin with journey maps centered around the journey the customers indulge in while navigating through interactions and touch-points, across multiple devices. A customer journey is never a linear path as the way customers engage with a product or service can be manifold. Charting the fragments of the journey on a single map, makes it easier to design the entire landscape including the front and backstage bits of the customer journey. A well researched concept plotted as journey map leads to ideation which can be refined in iterations culminating in service blueprints. Every part of the journey map jointly contributes to the entire customer experience. Tech enabled business innovation can enhance each customer interaction to yield a holistic contented experience.

Tech enabled touch points — The use of blockchain in supply-chain not only prevents fraud but could aid the customer experience in terms of story telling or driving sustainability where customers can trace the fair trade ecological sourcing of products. Smart labels and smart tags on wine bottlesand clothes aid the B2B customers with supply-chain and logistics Analytics while making the end user’s experience smarter with IoT solutions. The consumer shopping for a piece of clothing can continue to remain engaged with the service provider by engaging with the smart wardrobe apps that allow refurbishing or recycling the garments, suggest new trends based on the consumer’s preferences, help in maintaining an inventory of the wardrobe. The challenge, however, for the service provider is to be able to gather product/service usage data and provide AI driven services within the realms of data privacy and compliance. The understanding of patterns or deviations in the patterns of the product usage leads to innovating new products or services or business models like a contractual business model or partnerships with other service providers, which jointly make a service appealing, cementing the discontinuities. The tech know-how enables the design execution but the prelude is visualizing stories as part of the customer journey map.

New business models that cater to both B2B and B2C customers using data driven approaches to enhance customer experience

It is important to consider loss aversion and recyclability while designing products/services. As more and more people embrace minimalism as a way of life, sales figures dwindle. Refurbishing, recycling or donating to charity, as mentioned in the circular economy should also be considered as part of the product/service design as the number of environment conscious consumers rises.

To serve the customers a non-fragmented customer experience fueled by design thinking at every interaction demands a robust ecosystem of business acumen, big data solutions, IoT, augmented reality and blockchain implementations, actionable insights and KPIs, abolishing organisational silos and an ambidextrous leadership. Designing the front and backstage touch points that support the journey by orchestrating connections across the different interaction points with a service design mindset delights the customer by hitting the spot!

Free Wi-Fi a boom for retailers?

happiness-is-free-wifi
Image courtesy http://www.curtincollege.edu.au/blog/

With the number of smart phone users on the rise every minute,consumers having more choices than ever, businesses have got to get innovative in order to attract new and retain existing customers. On a recent trip abroad, where I had my data roaming turned off, I realised the importance of retailers offering free Wi-Fi! This got me thinking about the ways in which free Wi-Fi could boost sales and increase customer engagement.

  • Free Wi-Fi sure drives traffic! Consumers would throng to retail outlets offering Wi-Fi availability. spend more time in stores,  which could lead to conversion. On the contrary offering no Wi-Fi could drive traffic away.
  • Having access to internet is a way to quickly check products on offer in the store, finding online discount coupons that can be encashed at the store, try out products in the store but order similar products (in variations) online thereby reducing bounce rate and comparing prices online. All of this leads to an overall better consumer experience and boosts customer retention.
  • Consumers act as brand ambassadors on social media liking, sharing and checking in at the retail outlets. The number of check-ins at a particular store speaks about it’s popularity, the same applies to consumers sharing and complimenting products on offer in the stores, on facebook, twitter and instagram. Consumer referrals are a great way of attracting more traffic to both the online and the physical stores.

The crux however lies in the easy and quick connectivity. If the retailers boast about free Wi-Fi but have a cumbersome process connecting to the hotspot then this could actually backfire.

A great mobile reception and easy connectivity to Wi-Fi – happy customers & better sales!