Two Lessons That Wine Drinkers Can Teach You About Customer Experience Auditing

Apparently somebody (Mark Bellis of John Moore University and his colleagues) has recently worked out that 12 million more bottles of wine are bought in the UK than people say they drink – every week. That’s about 624,000,000 bottles a year that are missing from the official stats. Are people stocking up? And what CX Auditing lessons lie hidden in this real life behavioural story?

I wasn’t that surprised to learn that the root cause of this statistical conundrum is first and foremost people: People forget, sometimes lie, or simply miscalculate what they drink when asked by their doctors. As a Customer Experience designer I see this type of issue every day. Businesses aren’t safe from it. When it comes to performance figures and statistics, people forget, omit, over and underestimate, too. This behaviour has in fact taught us a few lessons about what’s important when embarking on a Customer Experience Audit. I would like to share two of those with you here.

Lesson 1Join up all the stats.

When doing a Customer Experience Audit we look to join up all of the information from both internal and external sources to get a clearer view of what is going on within the business.

Over the last 12 months our CX consultants have looked at more than 450 organisations. Guess what we found? Most did not have a joined up view of their customer experience data across the enterprise; almost none had a single joined up view across the enterprise and all available external sources even though they had the technology to deliver a single, conjoined view before we started work.

Internal challenges that surfaced most commonly included the myth (and it is a myth) that because different channels such as the website and the contact centre use fundamentally different types of measurement there is no way to join them up into a single view. This is not true. The reason that CX is a mission critical issue for organisations is because it does exactly that – it is that joined up view. This is where the link between CX and accounting is so important. Customer Experience should inform the senior management team.

If you can make seamless customer experience a reality and learn to measure your brand’s emotional impact across every channel with a consistent set of tools, you will ultimately come at a real world figure that will challenge your assumptions about data. Go, find it!

CX is just the next generation BPR (Business Process Reengineering) environment, which has built upon methodologies such as Six Sigma, Behavioural Science and other disciplines to define the measurement of outcomes agnostically across departments, channels, platforms and silos. Customer Experience is the science and execution of outcomes. CX doesn’t care if it is about support via the call centre or sales via the website; it is the framework for understanding the outcomes and impacts of your business operation.

Lesson 2 – Perception and emotion are vital parts of Customer Experience because they are part of people.

No one is perfect or perfectly honest. We know that this is true in our lives and this is because we observe it every day. It doesn’t make us bad people. It is part of our nature and is crucial to our survival as a species. A doctor once told me that no woman would ever have a second baby if the memory of the pain of childbirth didn’t fade with time. This goes to show that perceptions are fluid and changeable, often to work in our favour.

In highly emotional circumstances we all are likely to give the answer that most fits with our emotional state. Discussing your wine drinking habits with a health professional, or applying for a job or health insurance is part of a highly emotional experience, which means that people are more likely to overestimate or underestimate. In the case of wine drinking, as we can all observe from the BBC’s recent report, most people underestimate consumption. They shall be excused. Everyone forgets, misjudges or lies sometimes.

However, this notion is rarely built into Customer Experience metrics although perception is indeed a key part of Customer Experience – one that marketing has used for years. Providing a range of offers with different pricing, for example, is a core strategy in most sales and one of the central strategies of supermarkets you can observe every time you walk into a shop.

It is easy to see then how our perception of how much our customers like us can be misaligned with the data that we gather! We have to build the human factor into our Customer Experience Strategy to survive.

Again, in our work we find that few organisations grade the accuracy that they expect to get from satisfaction surveys, or build appropriate metrics into their understanding of their customer relationships. We know surveys and verbatim answers are affected by the way questions are asked and the timing and circumstances of data collection (experience). As people we know that emotional context affects our behaviour but when we get to work we forget this. This includes how we feel about the experience of the organization that provided it and the way in which we were asked.

When I work with large organisations and governments I am far too often in meetings where unfiltered survey figures and voice of the customer verbatim results are used as accurate drivers for strategy with no consideration of human nature. But customers are people.

Yet building “Accuracy Grading” into the use of these metrics is a relatively simple thing to do. You start by creating the ability to grade information and you refine your understanding over time. It does take time and you have to recognise that if you want to build customer experiences. You have to experiment and be prepared to fail as you grapple with the human condition. We humans (or customers for your experiences) are complicated, changeable, wonderful and terrible.

The difference between understanding the figures and understanding the customer is part of the value of Customer Experience Auditing. This gap was so clearly highlighted during the recent UK election when the polling organisations failed to predict an accurate picture of the outcome. People may not have been as engaged with pollsters as they thought!

MORRIS PENTEL is a futurologist, acclaimed CX customer contact strategy designer and the Chairman of the Customer Experience Foundation, the world’s leading organisation in Customer Experience Science. Founded in 2008, it was the first customer experience organisation of its kind and has grown into a centre of excellence for CX design, drawing on the expertise of 30 of the best CX experts in the world who have developed best practice across Customer Experience Audit, Customer Journey Mapping, Omni-Channel Design, Voice of the Customer and Customer Personas.