This is the second of two articles about the customer experience audit (CX audit). It provides a step-by-step guide, in six steps, to conducting a CX audit.
If you haven’t yet read the preceding article, ‘Customer Experience Audit: what is it and why is it important’, I recommend reading it now. It covered the basics of a customer experience audit. This includes how it maps 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 your company, known as touch-points.
The blog then went on to discuss why CX audits are important, when to conduct them and why they are appropriate for any business. It also mentioned what the output from the customer experience audit looks like.
This article focuses on the six steps that I recommend you follow when conducting a CX audit. The objective is to gain a better understanding of customers, to fuel organisational changes that ensure you meet your objectives.
CX Audit in Six Steps
Step 1: Create Customer Personas
Firstly, in any CX audit you need to understand and define your various customer personas. You’re looking to segment your customer base into clusters with similar profiles. While I would always start with data, whatever you’ve got, much of the focus will be about emotional connections. You’re trying to evaluate what motivates customers to buy from you or to move closer to making the purchase. Once they’ve purchased, you’re seeking to establish what makes certain customers loyal and what makes some of them advocates for you.
Once you have identified the various personas you’re working with, it’s time to evaluate their customer journeys. Specifically, you’re looking for where and when they make contact with your business in order to more closely define the CX audit.
Step 2: Define Touch-Points for all Personas
It’s important to recognise that different customers will interact with your business in different ways. So, in defining the touch-points it’s a good idea to think in terms of groups of touch-points in relation to each of the personas. The larger and more complex your business, the greater the number and type of touch-points there are likely to be. And consequently, the more complex your customer experience audit is going to be.
To construct this evaluation of touch-points, I recommend doing it as a group exercise. Group members should be drawn from all teams/departments that have direct contact with and detailed experience of customers and prospects. So, think of sales, marketing and customer service staff for certain. Also, maybe finance, technical support (for technology businesses) and external partners. Maybe some input from retail customers, if you have a strong enough relationship with them.
Chances are by now that you’ll have a fair idea of the who and where but have a few gaps in your knowledge to fill before the CX audit can be completed.
Step 3: Customer Research
Where there are gaps that can’t be filled with existing data and experience, it’s a good idea to commission some market research. In the first instance, qualitative research will allow you to question persona groups and get under the skin of their goals in relation to your business.
For your customer experience audit, the questions to ask of the personas you come with include:
- What are the shared goals of each persona?
- How does the business fit in with these goals?
- How much effort do you require the customer to make when moving between touch-points?
- What are their preferred methods of dealing with your business?
- Are there any that you don’t provide that would add value to the customer experience?
Professional, expert qualitative research can be very revealing and inform your CX audit and subsequent business decisions. Unfortunately, sometimes it carries less weight in commercial debates, as it’s based around the opinions of a sample of your audience. So, for completeness, a good idea is to follow up qualitative work with a few, well-chosen questions presented to a larger number of respondents. This quantitative research can be via questionnaires sent direct to past customers, or via web site visits, or other means. It’s role, in this case, is to confirm the findings of the qualitative research.
Step 4: Employee Research
As with customers, it’s a good idea to establish some employee group discussions around the above themes. The objective here is establish whether the customers’ views of CX equates to the company’s view, so try to ensure that you’re consistent with topic discussions.
For larger businesses, quantitative research follow up, as above, is also a good idea. It’ll also help to confirm and support the findings of the qualitative study and enhance the potency of your customer experience audit.
Step 5: Spot the Difference
Once the research results are in, it’s time to start pulling together your CX audit report. The first stage of this is to look for differences between what the company’s staff think about the quality of customer experience offered and what customers actually experience from their perspective.
Step 6: Customer Experience Audit Report
The output from a CX audit will be a summary report of the journeys identified and a blend of:
- clear presentation of discrepancies and similarities between company and customer perspectives;
- 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.
Customer experience and CX audits are a new and exciting field of work to improve business performance. They cut across traditional departmental ‘silos’, so are generally best delivered through external, independent consultants. I’m happy to discuss this article or related issues on- or off-line with anyone. I’ll be delighted to take suggestions for improvement or discuss specific projects. Just get in touch via the contact page on this site or message via Twitter or LinkedIn.