This is the first of two articles about the customer experience audit (CX audit). At first, I’ll focus on what a CX audit is, why it’s important and when you should consider conducting one. The second blog will give a step-by-step guide to conducting a customer experience audit.
What is a Customer Experience Audit (CX Audit)?
A CX audit maps customer journeys through multiple channels of communication between a company and its customers. In turn, the customer journey is the summation of all the interactions customers have with the company, frequently called touch-points. These are a mix of on-line and off-line interactions; they may be person-to-person or person-to-machine. They’ll encompass website visits, form filling, emails, social media, SMS, sales presentations, phone calls: every means of contact. Think about it, for many businesses this is long list.
An important concept to consider early on is that of the customer persona. This is a segment of your total customer base with common characteristics. The aim with a persona is to get under the skin of your target audience. Use all the data available and try look for emotional connections. What are the customers’ goals (in relation to your products) and how do you meet them? Associated with this is the amount of effort your customers are willing to put into their relationship with you. This is something you should try to establish and use during and after your CX audit.
If you’d like to read more about painting some personality into your customer personas, check out this blog.
For customer journeys and touch-points with the business, try to group them per the customer personas you have defined.
The output from a CX audit will be a summary report of the journeys identified and a blend of:
- quick fixes to improve customer journeys;
- long term strategic implications (such as re-allocating resources between sales and marketing);
- new relationship opportunities (business building via loyalty or new business);
- KPIs for continuous monitoring in the future.
Why is a Customer Experience Audit Important?
Time was when customers viewed advertising as a means of informing them of choice. In B2B markets and higher value consumer purchases, customers also sought information from suppliers’ sales people. This was seen as part of their research process.
Not any longer. Not in the web 2.0 age.
Customer behaviours have changed, are changing, and will continue to change, probably even faster. Some of this is down to social media. There are more ways to determine the reputation of a business/product than ever before and more folks available to ask.
But it’s not just the result of social media usage. The main reason is that customers (or prospects) are generally better informed. They don’t necessarily believe what companies tell them any longer; they tend to research before they even engage with suppliers. This holds true for B2B markets, as well as B2C.
There’s a good article in McKinsey’s Quarterly Review from February 2015 that supports and expands upon this view.
When to Construct a CX Audit
The answer to this question depends on whether you’ve got a good understanding of customer journeys already, or not. If you’ve not considered CX before, then I’d recommend strongly that you do so now.
Irrespective of what you’ve done in the past about CX, consider the following key questions. Don’t necessarily answer them now, but ask yourself how well you could answer them now. Give each a score as follows:
|Score||How well can you answer?|
|5||Not at all|
The questions to consider are:
- Which customer personas are your most valuable, and why?
- What are your key customers’ needs (in relation to your business)?
- Which touch-points with your business do these key customer personas value the most, and why?
- What are the most common pre-purchase touch-points, as prospects move from awareness of your products to selection?
- How loyal are your key customer personas, how do you measure this and who are your best advocates?
An aggregate score above 10 indicates that a customer experience audit is required. Above 15 and it’s urgent.
Is It Just for Large Companies?
No. It’s the larger businesses and consultancies that have initiated the focus on customer experience and CX audits. However, the impacts of changing customer behaviours are felt by all businesses large and small.
Similarly, it’s not just for businesses with large volumes of business transacted via the web or via contact centres. They are important touch-points but they’re not the only ones that will be found in a CX audit.
Finally, if you’d like to discuss any of the topics raised by this customer experience audit blog, contact me now.