Recently, I transferred my Investment Retirement Account (IRA) from one financial institution into another. I spoke to multiple employees and I was surprised that my experience was different with each one. First, I called and spoke to a telephone representative enquiring how to initiate the transfer and they had me download a large and very confusing PDF document.
The telephone representative walked me through how to fill out the paperwork, which ended up taking over an hour. When I was done and walked to the bank, the banker did not know where to fax the documents or the steps for the transfer. I happened to have the information for the fax and provided that, but it left me feeling less than confident.
I followed up with another telephone representative and to my surprise, they told me all of this could have been accomplished much more easily on the website and he walked me through that process, which took less than 5 minutes. Even though I was able to get the funds transferred, I was perplexed by the inconsistent information that each representative communicated to me during this process. I asked the agent why he knew about this, but the previous telephone representative did not? He was surprised and said everyone should know this process. I can see that this financial organization has great tools to accomplish customer enablement, but not everyone within the organization is familiar with them. This whole encounter could have gone a completely different way if all the telephone customer service members were trained to use the same process.
Figure 1: How the experience can quickly shift the customers satisfaction level.
Employee enablement basically refers to programs and activities that ensure high levels of customer adoption and satisfaction. We talk at a high level about this, but it’s really everything the employee needs to have in order to be successful. That can be in the form of consistent training of all telephone representatives that answer customer calls or just having a platform that works seamlessly. All companies deal with some level of customer enablement challenges. I have the opportunity to solve for that on a day-to-day basis with many of my clients.
Similar to the bank example above, a previous client of mine had poor customer feedback all around. We were hired to do full end-to-end research, in which the final output comprised of an experience brief and a research readout isolating the problem. One of the many things that came up was the fragmentation of the different departments inside of their company, and how to the customer, this resulted in inconsistent experiences.
Here were some of the problems identified and analyzed:
- Without real data tracking or analytics, getting to grasp the severity of the situation can be very challenging.
- Connecting internal struggles with negative customer feedback requires a strong commitment to research and improvement.
- We identified a variety of pain points, and matched them with the emerging customer complaints – pointing out the lowest satisfaction areas, and the strong positives, this is the beginning of the experience brief.
Towards the end of the project, a plan of action was presented and the client initiated the process with the various departments to begin planning for implementation the following quarter. This may sound like a very straightforward solution, but the process getting there was anything but that. Many clients expect a large dossier as an output from the months of research and analysis; however, in this day and age, we had to ask ourselves how much of that would be read and reviewed by the key stakeholders? So in addition to the readout that was prepared, we put together an experience brief.
An experience brief summarizes the entire problem, user research, hypothesis, the data analysis and analytics, interview findings, personas, and the roadmap. The supporting material to the brief is found in the research readout which is a more detailed view of the entire experience. Another great thing about an experience brief is that the stakeholders will have to sign off on the brief before any design work can get started. This not only protects against future risks, but also helps keep the project on track.
Experience briefs create a better product and guide the successful transformation of the customer experience. As I personally experienced with the bank, the company did a lot of work by understanding their customers and developing a plan to enable their employees to solve my problem (even though not everyone had the same knowledge or training; therefore, resulting in an inconsistent customer experience). But ultimately it’s the experience brief that makes change possible. Today companies realize that as users and consumers evolve, all it takes is one bad customer experience to turn people off your brand and product forever.
Figure 2: The succinct experience brief culminates from the all extensive individual discovery pieces.