Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

Last Thursday we identified and classified your stakeholders, it is time to dig deeper and develop the Persona Profiles. The Persona Profile is designed to give your company a brief, but detailed insight into what kind of customers your employees will be interacting and working with on a specific task.

The whole point of the Persona Profile is to understand your customer or client and deliver the optimum level of customer experience for the individual. We collect data about our customer on topics including the person’s job, special skills, work experience, education, salary, and most importantly, how they interact in the work environment. The information that we target includes who the employee works and interacts with and their preferred communications methods. These interlocking ideas provide us with the necessary ingredients to tailor a unique customer experience.

To give you an idea of how I assemble a Persona Profile, take a look at what Ten Ton Marketing suggests as questions to begin the creation of a Persona Profile. The profile should look almost like a brief resume complete with a picture of the individual. Using the questions outlined by Stephanie Tilton, your employees are now able to effectively differentiate your client’s skills, needs, and necessary working conditions.

In my experience, this profile building helps develop a deep understanding of the clients/customer’s expectations and habits in the work environment. This is important to understand because work satisfaction, productivity, and collaboration are imperative to success in ramping up your customer experience efforts.

I frequently take advice of other experts in the field and incorporate new techniques into to my own processes. These are just introductory questions that can be tweaked to specific individuals and circumstances so that customer and client understanding are achieved.

We collected our data through various channels and continually consult these networks to revise, update, and enhance the customer experience. I would be interested in hearing about your experience. How does your organization practice these techniques? If not, why not?

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

In my previous blog post on October 20, 2010, I outlined an approach to customer experience through a Customer Experience Model we have been developing. In this post I begin to share some of the tools that I envision are part of this model.

In my experience, step 1 requires a thorough investigation into the identity of customers and their value propositions. One tool that can be used to get at the customer’s identity is the Stakeholder Matrix. The Stakeholder Matrix provides the ability to identify and classify levels of importance and interest in collaboration for all stakeholders. This is important for the development of branding, marketing, and communications efforts throughout the customer experience.

How is this best done? I like to begin with a brainstorm and write down each stakeholder or group of stakeholders to an organization. The next step is to group or organize the stakeholders into a Stakeholder Matrix by asking a few simple questions about each individual or group of stakeholders.

The chart below shows you what the matrix looks like:

Stakeholder Matrix

The matrix will undoubtedly help in assessing the degree of influence and interest among your stakeholders to improve the overall customer experience. The building of the Matrix itself can be a time-consuming task, but will result in an honest assessment and useful resource.

Now that that your stakeholders have been identified and classified, it is time to dig deeper and develop the Persona Profiles. The Persona Profile is designed to give your company a brief, but detailed insight into what kind of customers your employees will interacting and working with on a specific task. This will be the topic for next Tuesday’s blog.

Again, please feel free to comment or ask questions on our blog. Your participation is greatly appreciated. Also, as you might have guessed our blogs now will be posted twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

Customer Experience Methodology and Process
As discussed in the previous CE blog posting, the importance of a comprehensive customer experience guideline and implementation process is absolutely necessary for a firm that desires to be a leader in whichever industry it does business.

iiGrowth has studied and adapted its own Customer Experience Model (CEM) and we continue our development in a continuous learning environment. The iiGrowth CEM serves as a useful tool and guide as a customer experience methodology and process for our client engagements.

iiGrowth customizes steps of the model to a client’s specific needs (i.e. corporate or project level), strengths, weaknesses, and an acceptable time line when each step should be taken. This ensures that the customer processes that a firm undertakes are beneficial to the firm itself as well as fit into the firm’s ecosystem, or set of stakeholders.

1. Define Customer Value: This process is important because it sets up the rest of the customer experience framework. Identifying who your customers are is an obvious, yet crucial act. Once the customer is identified you must understand their values, expectations, and how your product/service will benefit the customer. iiGrowth’s consultants aggregate Stakeholder Lists and draw up Persona Profiles and begin the process of building a Persuasion Architecture as a way to get started with the discovery process. Persuasion Architecure is used by iiGrowth for building our customer experience model into websites and web-based businesses. The building of the Persuasion Architecture spans the first two steps of our customer experience model.

2. Design Customer Experience: The goals of this step require customer centric thinking. It begins with understanding and outlining the customer’s needs. The Persuasion Architecture continues in step two with processes of wire framing, storyboarding, prototyping, development, and optimizing that come from a model developed by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg several years ago.

Once the desired solutions have been identified, you must design a specialized customer experience for the customer’s segments you identified in step one, as well as develop a plan of how and when to proceed with implementation. iiGrowth’s consultants prefer to use Journey Maps as their primary tool in designing the customer experience.

3. Empower People: Step three requires you to embody the work done in steps 1 & 2 with your firm’s employees. If 1 & 2 are done in an executive boardroom out of sight of employees who interact with the customers, then the exercise will be wasted. You must provide your staff with the resources, skills, and knowledge of the Customer Experience Framework. This involves developing training programs, governance models, and metrics to monitor the implementation. iiGrowth’s consultants typically use Resource Maps linked to the Journey Maps created in step 2.

4. Sustain Customer Initiatives: This step involves listening to your customers and employees about the progress of the program. You must align the company culture with metrics and remain in constant communication with your stakeholders. iiGrowth’s consultants use a simple, yet effective Customer Experience Survey.

5. Measure Performance: The last step allows your company to review, critique, and modify the whole customer experience. The identification of met goals, metrics, intermediate targets and scoring these results is important. The aspects of the assessment should be shared with your stakeholders. iiGrowth’s consultants use the Customer Experience Scorecard.

Typically iiGrowth advises clients to undertake the implementation of the Customer Experience within a 12-18 month time frame (e.g. corporate level) so that set goals are tangible and within the foreseeable future, while establishing a long term precedent. iiGrowth’s research has identified success in implementing this in every type of organization. The importance of a good customer experience is a universally understood concept, yet the hard part is to understand just how to tweak the model for each organization’s needs while maintaining the drive to see the change process through to the end.

Future blog postings will break down each of the tools iiGrowth believes can be most helpful in implementing the CEM. We are interested in your experience with the Customer Experience and possible models and tools that you have found beneficial. Please join the discussion and we will keep you informed about future discussions and meet-ups we hope to promote. The contributions of the community will make this blog theme much more interesting and meaningful. We look forward to your ideas, questions, and comments.

Written by: Aleksandrs Racenis

Almost all private businesses know that customer experience is a huge aspect of success in today’s consumer centric market.  There is so much competition in every sector of the economy, that business have to stand out and provide exceptional customer experience every step of the way.  Experts like Bruce Temkin and Forester Research do in depth research and analysis of private sector customer experience goals, practices, expectations, and realities.  This year’s top company in terms of customer service in Forester’s 2010 Customer Experience Index, Barnes & Noble, probably worked exceptionally hard to earn this title.  There are of course happy customers at Barnes & Noble.

Recently the federal government, one of the largest buyers in the world has realized its needs to improve the customer experience.  It is measuring, analyzing, and practicing consumer needs.  We see this improvement happening in many different areas of the government, both federal and local.  RightNow is pioneering these advances in over 170 federal, national, state, provincial, and local government agencies world-wide.  They are calling it “Government 3.0” that is achieved on four fronts designed to involve citizens in the process of developing improved service mechanisms, communicating through social networking sites, personalizing interactions with agency employees, and developing ways to measure their ROI on communication techniques.

The USAF is an example of internal realization of certain customer needs within the government sector.  The USAF is a critical force in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s Air Force Personnel Center was struggling to manage its documentation, curb spending, and support its military operations. The Human Resource tools and services needed to undergo a drastic transformation phase. “The primary goal was to create a better customer experience by providing self-service solutions and tracking customer service needs.”  RightNow’s Software as a Service provided the USAF with the increased ability for knowledge management, case tracking, contact center tracking, and customer survey mission needs.  This initiative has saved the USAF $4 million annually and improved customer engagement by 70%.

Send in posts about your experiences with Government 3.0 services and products.  How are the public and private sectors complementing each other?  What are your ideas on making positive changes?

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