“The Customer Experience Scorecard is a tool which can be used to measure and analyze a customer’s experience with an organization, with the intention of improving that experience.”
The rapidly increasing number of avenues for interacting with customers in today’s marketplace makes it difficult for organizations to continue to provide the desired customer experience. With organizations selling wares and services on Main Street, online, via mobile, etc it is simply impossible to create a uniform customer experience across all of these platforms. Organizations often focus on one or more primary selling avenues and relinquish the rest to second rate status. With the Customer Experience Scorecard organizations can measure each of the two components of the customer experience. The first component measured is the characteristics experience which is reflected as the functional and emotional aspects of that product or service. The second component is the human aspect or the actual purchasing experience as well as the pre and post components of that purchasing experience. As a rule of thumb the human aspect should seek to outweigh the characteristics in order to build and retain customer loyalty. The smaller the human aspect as compared to the characteristic aspect of a product or service the higher the long term risk to the organization is.
Improving Experiences– The characteristic aspect of an experience for a customer of a product or service are temporary and diminish in value over time as they become normal or expected. The human aspect of a customer experience tends to be much longer lived and should be weighted higher than the functional experience for a customer.
Human Aspect– The human experience has no limitations aside from what the organization is willing to invest in terms of training, incentives, and leadership involvement.
Characteristic Aspect– The characteristic experience is defined as the benefits, both functional and emotional, the product or service provides to the customer. This includes the pricing of the product or service as consumers value a benefit by the price they pay for that benefit.
Functional/Personal Balance–Many organizations focus on either the characteristic or human experience of their products or services at the expense of the other. For example the human experience is diminished by a perceived communications disconnect when organizations outsource customer relations to a foreign country that uses different accents or styles of English. On the other hand what is the point of having great customer service if your product doesn’t fulfill a customer’s needs?
Analysis– Functional and human aspects should be measured in such a way so that organizations can analyze each.
Innovation– Analysis of the customer experience can give organizations the information, about both threats and opportunities, it needs to direct innovation efforts.
The methods by which products and services are sold have grown by leaps and bounds in the past few decades. What used to be relegated to the store shelves or catalog for sale can now be sold on the internet, mobile phone, tablet, and the numerous other creative ways that have been developed to sell to every market niche. This has created enormous opportunities for small companies that before have struggled to put their wares in front of potential customers. It has given large organizations new markets that would have otherwise been prohibitively expensive to expand to. A whole new segment of online and digital services have prospered due to the free flow of the online economy. Now an Indian design company can provide a website directly to a small company in the USA where in the past they would have had to most likely go through a number of intermediaries in order to conduct their business.
However the element that has suffered the most as a result of these new sales avenues is the personal aspects that went along with shopping at a store and talking to an employee. The new face of customer service is often thousands of miles from your location and has little to no familiarity to you. This deterioration of the human aspect of the customer experience is then combined with the influx of competing products and services that the new sales avenues have provided to otherwise irrelevant organizations. This confluence of factors requires a new approach to analyzing and planning the customer experience.
Competition can lead to organizational leadership making massive investments in marketing to retain customers. Some organizations play up customer service to build goodwill where the customers they serve are not satisfied with the products to begin with. Other organizations play up the functionality of their products and services when their customers are more interested in the customer service they provide. This undisciplined approach to marketing is a form of waste for many organizations.
I believe there are two aspects that define the customer experience. The first is the characteristics aspect, which are the benefits the product or service provides to the customer. How will the specific characteristics of a product or service provide benefits to meet the needs of the customer? Does the product or service have some emotional value for the customer?
The second is the human aspect which is the pre-purchase, time of purchase, and post purchase experiences by the customer of the organization. This refers to the perception that a customer has of an organization without reference to any particular product or service the organization provides. For example does the customer perceive an organization as being green, or charitable in the community, of having great customer service, etc.
The difficulty organizations have is in determining which aspect of the customer experience to invest in, and then market to consumers. Should an organization play up the characteristic aspects of a product, or should it focus on the human aspects? Determining the right balance will go a long way to building sustainable competitive advantage for an organization.
The Customer Experience Scorecard is a method with which to measure a customer’s experience for both the characteristic and human aspects of a product or service. It is a tool that an organization can use to plan investments in marketing, development, training, etc. It can do this in order to provide better balance in its marketing while reducing wasteful spending. The Customer Experience Scorecard uses a base point of X which represents the product or service that will be analyzed. It then requires the user of the scorecard to analyze from a consumer’s perspective the product or service itself, as well as the consumer’s perception of the supporting factors which we call the human factors of that product or service.
For the Characteristics aspect of the customer experience the first step is determining a product or service’s characteristic benefits to the consumer. How do these benefits compare to other similar competing products and services? Do they far surpass the competition or are they roughly on par? Are they necessities or luxuries for the consumer? The next step is to determine the emotional value of a product or service. Does it fulfill some intangible need or desire? Are there other products or services that compete, which can fulfill the same needs? Within the scorecard the answers to these questions are important as the larger the advantage of a product or service has over the competition the less the human aspect will be relevant to the consumer. As can be seen below, this is only a temporary advantage.
For the Human aspect of the customer experience the three time based components of an individual experience should be analyzed and evaluated. The first time component is the perception of the organization before a customer makes a purchase. What would influence a customer’s mindset if they had never bought from your organization before? Would it be negative ads or negative feedback from friends and family? The second time component is the perception of the organization during the actual purchasing experience. How are customers influenced by salespeople, by the layout, website, restrooms, checkout experience, etc? This may require the use of mystery shoppers or unannounced simulations and scenarios in order to get an accurate assessment. The third time component is the perception of the organization after the customer has made the purchase. Customer service, hidden charges, follow up, etc are all aspects of a customer experience following a purchase. Customer experience charting can be used for evaluating the human aspects.
As can be seen the characteristic aspect takes a more precise view of an organization’s products and services by focusing intensely on the benefits they provide. The human aspect takes a expanded view of the organization by focusing on the interactions, environments, behaviors, etc of the organization around that product or service.
The characteristic aspect is temporary and limited by the time the product or service can provide superior benefits. For example one might wish to get a new computer from company A because they provide the best graphics and sound of any on the market. However that characteristic functional benefit is limited by the amount of time it takes for a competitor to build a system with similar features. On the other hand the human aspect is longer lasting because it represents an emotional impression of an organization that is not limited by competition.
1. Determine a product or service that will serve as the center of the customer experience. This should be a significant source of revenue for the organization so that any results derived as a result of the scorecard can provide a considerable positive benefit.
2. Determine the functional characteristics which are significant in the eyes of the consumer and are superior to competing products or services. For example when examining a monitor, a significant characteristic may be the size or depth of the monitor. The shape of the power cord might be superior to another competitive product, but would not be considered significant to the majority of consumers. This may require some type of analysis of consumer opinion, whether by survey or other feedback mechanism.
3. Determine the emotional characteristics which are significant in the eyes of the consumer and which are superior to competitive products or services. If we are using the case of the monitor above, perhaps the color pattern utilized on the shell is more attractive then the bland solid colors of competing monitors. Alternatively the shape of the monitor and its shell may be stylish and thus superior and significant. As with the functional characteristics this may require survey or some other analysis of consumer opinion.
4. Record these characteristics.
5. Determine how consumers perceive the organization before making a purchase. What factors are influencing these perceptions? Are these factors positively or negatively impacting these perceptions?
6. Determine how consumers perceive the organization during the purchase. How is the actual buying experience for a consumer for the chosen product or service? This might require some observation, simulation, testing, etc to develop properly.
7. Determine how consumers perceive the organization following the purchase. How are the customers treated if they have customer service needs, need to return the product or have complaints about the service?
8. Record these characteristics in the Customer Experience Scorecard.
9. For the product or service being analyzed compare the characteristic aspect against the human aspect and determine which one is more influential to the customer. If a product or service is seen to have a much heavier characteristic aspect weighting then the human aspect it represents a risk to the organization. When the product or service characteristics are matched or exceeded by a competitor the characteristic aspect diminishes in value. The Customer Experience Scorecard serves as a great way of keeping organizational vanity in check while focusing on the real long term benefits of maintaining and enhancing the human aspect.
A. A general rule when completing the Customer Experience Scorecard is that the human aspect will remain consistent across several different products or services while the characteristic aspect may show significant differences.