20 year content strategy veteran, Sharon Burton. Sharon Burton consults about content strategy, content business issues, social media and managing post-sales customer experience issues.

Customer Experience and product instructions (part 8)

Customer Experience and product instructions (part 8)

In previous articles, I covered some business/customer experience basics, such as customer experience and customer churn, and the value of customers and the pyramid of customer experience. I looked at the Customer Experience pyramid and the Content pyramid, the cost of customer support centers as they impact the Customer Experience, the expense of product returns, customer touchpoints and the customer journey.

This week, we’re looking at the Customer Ecosystem and product instructions.

Customer ecosystem

Customer touchpoints are the tip of an iceberg for your company. Touchpoints are the places where your customer interacts with your company in some manner. From the customer’s point of view, these may be very shallow interactions, in that they see only what they see – such as a support rep.

But under the touchpoints are a large network of various systems, department, staff, vendors, and others that make it all happen so the support person can breach the water to interact with the customer.

Mapping out the customer ecosystem can provide insights into how the touchpoints ripple through the rest of the company. Sometimes you can discover groups who never thought they had any customer impact are, in fact, impacting processes and system that create a negative touchpoint.

Creating a chart

I think you should create an ecosystem chart for every touchpoint or group or related touchpoints – even the unattended ones.

Here are the over all instructions. This should take less than 2 hours. Get Post-it notes, red, green, and yellow markers, and a large paper or whiteboard or wall.

  1.  Pick a customer and a touchpoint or journey. Your personas could be very handy here. It should be one that has some customer pain associated with it.
  2. Write down all the customer actions involved in the touchpoint or journey. For example, if you were doing this for online help, write down everything the customer does when they look at a screen and decide they need more information.
  3. On the Post-it notes, write down all the systems, people, groups, etc the customer interacts with during this journey. Include any objects that groups or systems touch. To continue the online help, you would include the servers and probably the webopps group.
  4. Put all these in order along the top of the chart. Where needed, layer the notes down to show where something burrows as it touches multiple things.
  5. Draw a line across the page/white board at the bottom of the customer stuff you just placed. Above that line is the customer exposed touchpoints/journey.
  6. On more Post-it notes, add the people, groups, outside vendors, etc that support or interact with each of the items identified above the line. You should have the entire ecosystem when you’re done. it should look sort of like the following graphic (click to make it larger):Example Customer Ecosystem
  7. Everything above the line is customer facing and everything below the line is what’s needed to make the customer facing stuff happen. Now, use your markers to indicate happiness levels off all people, groups, etc involved. Green is happy, orange is not happy but not unhappy, and red is unhappy or broken. You get something like this (click to make it larger): Customer Ecosystem color coded
  8. In most cases, the groups below the line are marked green, in that they are very happy with their efforts and how it’s going. They probably would rate themselves high in doing a good job. But if you follow the line up, it’s part of an unhappy customer when we look at the top of the iceberg.

Now, you see what needs to be fixed or changed to improve the customer happiness levels. And, if you’re doing this with product instructions, you see what’s involved in getting the docs to the customer and how.

Play along at home!

I strongly recommend you start creating customer ecosystem charts. I think you’re going to be surprised at what you learn about what’s involved in making your customers happy.

By Sharon Burton

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