The Fleet Customer Experience Revolution
By Jeofrey Bean
Apple, Intuit and Netflix are companies that have created the future of customer experience. They are also examples of companies that have dedicated or temporary customer experience and user experience labs. These labs reproduce real-world environments, product purchase and use conditions for insightful customer experience management decisions.
The labs facilitate testing with real people to develop desirable experiences. The now famous Apple Retail Stores were developed when Apple board member Millard “Mickey” Drexler suggested building a prototype of the store near Apple’s headquarters. The decisions about ease of product contact and service development that centered on people’s activities with Apple employees instead of transactions came from this prototype or lab.
Insights from the labs, based on the interactions of real people who are like the customers you have or want, can contribute to the development of your marketing messages, service processes and employee training and development. These “CX Insight Labs” help decrease uncertainty while increasing the effectiveness of the customer experience continuum pieces that are being tested.
Intuit is famous for product and service combinations like TurboTax, Quicken and SnapTax. Their strategy of using personas (Google on images and “personas” for examples), modeling the customer environment and learning from the interactions of real people during product and service development puts the entire team at Intuit in the customers’ shoes to create a desirable and immersive customer experience.
Tim Beschastnov, Sr. Development Manager at Intuit, sums up the value of working with people and the customer experience lab this way: “The reward for this hard work was to watch real small business owners trying these prototypes during the lab sessions and asking “when can I have it?’ questions.”
Remember that Apple, Intuit and Netflix and other “experience maker” companies were once start-ups that included formal and informal insight labs almost from their beginnings.
Creating and using customer experience labs is not just for established companies with dedicated budgets. Those who are resource constrained can set-up a make shift lab. The key is to make it like the customer environment and have unbiased processes to learn from people’s interactions in the customer experience you are proposing.
You can learn a lot from testing people’s experiences with product usability, new services, processes and messaging without creating your own custom environment. Conference rooms, private offices, hotel meeting rooms and company cafeterias are part of a larger list of alternative locations to do this. Testing in the very place a customer will use your product or service is invaluable. Jakob Nielsen, User Advocate and Principal of the Nielsen Norman Group emphasizes that “The key elements in user testing are the facilitator’s skill in drawing out user behavior without biasing the user, and the facilitator’s analytical skills in determining valid and useful design conclusions from observations of this user behavior.
These two crucial points don’t depend on the specific location or on having lots of advanced equipment at hand.” They depend on your commitment to determining what the next customer experience is so you are better, different and more valuable to customers. This helps to go beyond customer satisfaction to loyalty and advocacy for your business.
Why not have customer experience and user experience insights laboratories helping your company to innovate the future of customer experience?
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