No matter how big or small your company may be, it’s common to think of customers in the aggregate, as a group, as a category, or as a set of categories.
Certainly, this kind of groupthink (or thinking-of-group, I suppose), is necessary, because considering factors in the aggregate affords you the chance to make systemic changes that can benefit multiple customers at once: improving your mobile site because multiple customers are entering via that channel, or improving the signage from your parking lot to your new side entrance, and so forth, changes that will matter to multiple customers, with limited differentiation necessary in how you think of them or serve them.
But the baby step I challenge you to take toward determining if it’s time for a true customer experience improvement initiative is different. Just as (some) authors picture an ideal reader and write toward them, I want you to think of a single customer. Bob. Or Julie. And then go through every step of Bob or Julie’s experience with you as a customer.
(I mean one, literal, Bob, or actual Julie–it’s important that she or he be a real customer, and that you start with just one. If you try to build paths for more than one customer or more than one archetype–a millennial male and a Silent Generation female, for example–you’ll most likely paper over some important details in your hurry to get to a more generally-applicable result.)
Now that you mapped out your “Bob Journey,” ask yourself if the result you see looks like where you want to be as a business. The result is going to land somewhere on this continuum:
Extreme #1: The experience of doing business with your company appears to be almost completely comfortable for Bob, with at most a few tweaks needed.
Extreme #2: What Bob has to go through to do business with your company is far off the mark from where you want it to be.
Obviously, if Extreme #2 is what came up for you, it’s advisable to prioritize the start of a customer experience initiative, and engaging a customer experience consultant, as soon as is practicable at your company.
But what about Extreme #1, the “just a few tweaks needed” result? This is essentially a positive result, and it likely means there are more pressing company needs you should undertake in lieu of a customer experience initiative. But before you close the book on this, ask yourself two more questions:
• What if a whole herd of Bobs, so to speak, showed up to patronize your business? Is the current “Bob experience” set up to handle such growth? If not, a customer experience initiative may still be called for.
• Even though the results for Bob were essentially “just fine,” could your business find it transformative to go far beyond fine? There are businesses that are built on extraordinary customer experiences, on turning the ordinary into the extraordinary at multiple junctures along the way. If this would be valued by your customers, or by the customers you’re trying to attract, then going beyond “a few tweaks” may be the way to proceed, regardless of your essentially positive result.