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By Shayna Stewart / July 17, 2019
A people-first approach is neither easy to create or quick to implement. But it is the secret sauce at the core of the biggest and best brands in the world today.
Customer experience is a strategy that all digital insiders know has to be a focus if they want to have a lasting impact in their industry. However, the execution of customer experience isn’t as easy as just coming up with a plan to leverage emerging technology and building digital products. It’s as much about igniting cultural change within a company as it is about planning for the evolution of the experience.
At YML, we’ve designed a dynamic and thorough people-first strategy built to cultivate cultural change.
That people-first approach is what is missing from the majority of CX initiatives — and it shows.
What differentiates the Silicon Valley behemoths and startups is the people-first approach.
A people-first approach comes with a shift in mindset that is drastically different from the historical business executive mindset. You suddenly are talking about the broad spectrum of all people, internally and externally, instead of just customers, and ultimately revenue. You are talking about emotions as opposed to products. Instead of technology solutions, you are building conversational tools. Lastly, whereas a business-centric mindset is one that optimizes based on minimizing risk and maximizing revenues, a people-first mindset is one that optimizes for transparency and intrinsic value.
In the short term, when first making this cultural shift, these optimization goals can constrain each other. In the long run, a people-first approach will maximize revenue, reduce risk, build loyalty with your team, and, quite frankly, keep your business relevant.
But this is a very difficult story to tell when in a boardroom meeting. Often times a savvy executive can make the initial case for investing in CX, but isn’t able to clarify the full scope of that CX investment, which includes a gradual and tangible, cultural change to people-first. What ends up happening is that the first part of the project may go well and the customer may come first, but then the returns on revenue and reduced risk are not immediately recognized and therefore the mindset shifts back to business as usual.
The trick is to trust the strategy. Trust consistency of message and approach.
Here are some examples of companies optimizing for people-first.
In both of these instances with Netflix and McDonalds, the immediate impact on the business metrics (revenue, profit) went down. In the long run, these CX strategies resulted in heightened retention over time. Brand perception and revenue drastically improved. They illustrated how creating a people-first culture will help mitigate the initial shock of investment and reduce risk over the long run because the investments made are directly informed by people’s emotions.
At YML we have created a step by step hierarchy to help you understand what actually goes into creating a people-first cultural mindset. Breaking it down into steps can help your teams understand where they are in maturity. The plan is also a tool to understand what steps were missed in the past. The key to this model is that it implies a high level of collaboration from stakeholders from historically siloed teams at every step.
Levels to Creating a People-First Culture:
Each step is crucial, and completion of a step without completing the one before it will invalidate all steps. In addition, the investment in each level is additive and represents a cost that is continuously incurred. This means the investment does not go away once a team has leveled up. The result for each step will be unique to every brand and even the approach to all steps is not a one-size fits all. Even if you meet the requirements in each step there are still some cultural habits that will undermine this entire investment.
Habits to Avoid in Order to Preserve a People-First Mindset
A people-first mindset should permeate the underlying thinking of all teams. It should be an iterative process that produces long term business results.
It should unite and empower all employees to stand up for what’s right for the customer.
Employee thinking should be able to shift seamlessly between their executive persona and people persona. And most importantly, it should allow employees to feel like people feel because, at the end of the day, all of us are just people.
An analysis of the Democrats’ argument to break up tech.
By Stephen Clements
Have you ever heard of…?
Probably not, which isn’t surprising.
They are just a handful of startups that were trounced when Facebook reintroduced gifting on the platform in 2017. I imagine this happens a lot—a tech giant launches a new feature and a slew of energetic and dynamic startups go up in smoke.
Talk about a tenuous existence.
No doubt it makes investing in a technology company very risky, and starting one even riskier. Sure, this has been going on since the dawn of business—the big eats the small—it’s a dog eat dog world, and Facebook has the biggest teeth.
So it was with some interest that I tuned into Elizabeth Warren’s talk at SXSW, during which she ripped into big tech and threatened to disrupt the disruptors by breaking them into smaller parts.
No doubt the cynic in me thinks this is just populist posturing from the 2020 hopeful.
Senator Warren picked SXSW to take her stand against big tech, because—as we all know—it’s hotbed of entrepreneurialism. It’s a who’s who of tech, and for 1 week the halls, bars, and BBQ joints of Austin are walked by any startup founder or tech-investor looking to rub shoulders with the world’s technorati, to get inspired, network, and maybe (just maybe) get funding.
And so the message was wildly cheered by her audience as she built her case to break up the G-MAFIA (Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, and Amazon).
Her logic is that by limiting the power of these tech giants, it will give smaller companies room to breathe, help them innovate more freely, and boost the economy.
And it’s not just a ray of hope for the startup community, it could also be a gift for big brands that aren’t so technologically endowed.
For example, I have lost count of the many meetings I have had with clients from all kinds of verticals—banking, insurance, automotive, etc.—all fretting the question “what happens when Amazon starts selling insurance/banking/cars/…?”
For me, this is the exciting part.
As the big tech elites control the future of AI, and they are busy shoring up their digital advantage, the oxygen of innovation is being squeezed out of startups and big businesses alike. It will be an effed up world when you get your insurance, banking, healthcare and gym membership, all from the same provider.
What Senator Warren is proposing might scare the big tech giants—obviously.
They haven’t felt much in the way of regulation for so long, and so now, as legislation starts to catch up with their mercurial rise, the pigeons are maybe coming home to roost.
It’s an agreeable message for an audience of technological progressives at SXSW, but on the flip side, Democrats rely on big tech as their piggy bank for political donations, so we’ll see if they are really willing to do anything should they win the 2020 election.
It’s a debate worth having, for sure, but the cynic in me doesn’t expect much will actually come from it.
Last year at this time, YML created some fun Women’s Day T-shirts for the team. Being really passionate about the topic, I decided to take the initiative to design this year's tees. Being born and raised in India and now working in such a multi-cultural workplace in the United States, diversity is a topic I hold close to my heart. I knew that was the theme I wanted to explore. As I was in the process of designing it, I shared a draft with our Chief Creative Officer, Stephen Clements, who posed a question which really made me think. He said, “Diversity is a topic so big, so vague, and so well explored by other people. Ideas begin with insights. Otherwise they aren’t really ideas. Insights challenge people. They surprise them. They make them think about an old problem in a new way. What’s your insight?” I paused. I thought. I dug deeper, until I found my insight that empowered me to write this poem —
“There are a world of problems that women have to deal with. Differences between them shouldn’t be one of it.”
The war with patriarchy has lasted centuries,
And the world still fails us.
She and I might have our differences.
The color of my skin,
The language of her words,
The music that makes our bodies sway,
Our childhood memories so unlike.
Our struggle so alike.
The world has failed us both.
Someone speaks over her,
She says “Sorry” before speaking her mind,
She’s paid less than she deserves,
The world has failed her.
Her heart beats fast as she walks alone at night,
She changes her path to avoid passing a group of men,
The world has failed her.
She’s told what to wear,
What to eat,
What to do,
How to be.
The world has failed her.
This is just the tip of the iceberg,
Of how the world has failed us.
You see our struggle and do nothing,
You have failed us both, too.
This is not your fight.
This is not my fight.
This is our fight.
To make the world better.
To stand with her.
To stand up for her.
To fight for her.
To empower her.
And can I ask,
If I’m in need,
You do the same for me?
Sadhvi Konchada is a UI/UX designer at Y Media Labs. She enjoys telling stories, most times with color, and sometimes with words.
In the digital industry we all aim towards the aspirational, yet colloquial goal of innovation. Yet more and more, true innovation is harder to come by. We believe this is due to the way roadmaps are prioritized. The frameworks that product leaders use for prioritization tend to overemphasize the manipulation of features that are already in place. The metrics, Level of Effort (LOE), Scale, and Customer Value, used in the framework do not favor injecting any new concepts.
It favors optimizing existing concepts.
Recently when working with a client to prioritize ideas within their roadmap, we created what is called the Innovation Index. In this case, our client and team brainstormed on all of the possible ideas for a second phase of a recent app that was built.
The problem we ran into ranking all of the ideas was a lack of data to support one feature over another as the first iteration of the app was yet to be launched. Therefore no data had been captured and we were too early in the process of vetting more ideas to gather consumer feedback. From our need to evaluate ideas objectively in lieu of usable data, the Innovation Index was born.
To create this index, we first did some research toward an objective definition of innovation. We landed on two important pillars:
From there, we took the list of ideas generated by our client and our team and researched if any of these ideas already existed. If the idea didn’t exist, we gave the idea a score of 5. If it did exist we ranked the idea with a score of 1-4, heuristically representing market saturation. Therefore, 5 was a completely distinct idea and 1 was an idea that has a high market saturation.
Secondly, we ranked the ideas on if the proposal was a more efficient way of solving the problem. If the idea was ranked as a 5 in the market saturation scale (meaning a completely distinct idea), it automatically got a score of 5 for being more efficient. Otherwise, we evaluated the ideas if they were more efficient approach to solving a problem that has already been solved by someone else.
That’s it, the Innovation Index is made up of two scales: Market Saturation & Efficiency. These concepts mapped back to the pillars of innovation, which helped focus our next steps on differentiation as opposed to directly competing with existing products. In the end this exercise prioritized our product planning to helping an underserved audience of about 18.6M people.
After using the Innovation Index in a roadmap with no data, I started to think about how it would apply to a roadmap with data already in place. I discovered that without including the Innovation Index, the metrics used to prioritize a roadmap (LOE, Scale, and Consumer Value) were actually working against innovative ideas. Here we dive into just how this plays out:
LOE asks how easy is it to bring an idea to market. The reasons for an ‘easy’ LOE estimate is slightly different for each team, but both result in prioritization of ideas that already exist.
If the idea is deemed easy by the technology team, that means they either have already done this before or that there is significant documentation already published. It also is indicative that all data elements are readily accessible. Typically, data elements that are readily accessible are already in use -- i.e. the idea is an optimization of an existing feature.
If the easy LOE estimate comes from the design team, it means that a proposed feature will likely have a small impact to the ecosystem. Designers spend less time when they do not have to think through the way that users move through the experience. When they do not have to think through the experience, that means they are manipulating or adding something to an existing page. This type of one-dimensional change is typically not symptomatic of building a new, innovative idea. Therefore an LOE of Easy and even Medium are deleterious to innovation.
Scale measures the potential number of users reached by the idea. If it’s high, then it gets prioritized over a niche solution. However, when you think about some of the most innovative brands today like Amazon, PayPal, Etsy, and Tesla, they all started by servicing niche markets. Often when innovative technologies and ideas are first created, the full breadth of implicated use cases are still unknown. In the case of PayPal, they worked from the insight that it was very challenging for auction houses (a small but extremely active part of Ebay’s user base) to collect mobile payments. PayPal was born from this insight. Ten years later, it’s rare that you find a retailer that does not support purchases through PayPal.
Augmented reality is another recent technology that hasn’t benefited from publicly scaled use cases yet, but we see companies like Google making significant investments. There’s value in testing early and learning fast, if you encounter an idea that may be small scale but is potentially innovative. I would recommend prioritizing it and position it to leadership as a learning opportunity for the team.
This metric is our most vague as it has the potential to be defined differently across multiple Indexes or use cases. We can’t completely rule out that this metric in some cases can be aligned to innovation, but in most cases I see that it is not.
Typically it is discovered through user validation or market research. CV often goes against innovation for two reasons:
The first - you may not be talking to the right group of people. In a recent study, we identified a target persona which clearly did not want certain innovative ideas because they weren’t geared towards that particular persona. This is also a factor when you have extremely small sample sizes. The users you are talking to just may not see the value of the idea. Second, I see studies that outwardly ask users what they want, what could be improved upon. This is important to do in order to find major usability issues, but it’s not the metric that will get you to focusing on innovation. It’s best to use a metric that prioritizes building a prototype of innovative idea that solves a problem that the users didn’t know they had. Then, subsequently present the prototype to potential users (pending you feel confident in your sample) to get feedback on usability. This methodology is better than asking users what they want as a means to prioritizing what you build.
Steve Jobs epitomized this very thought and opined -
We've been lucky to have several new leadership positions join us this summer, and wanted to take the opportunity for our clients and partners to get to know them better. Up this week, Tuomas Haapala, our new Director of Strategic Partnerships.
TOO - OH - MAS. But sometimes I get Tom or Thomas and I just go with it.Previously I was at a Finnish design agency, Idean, where I was the Director of Strategy & Growth specializing in customer experience, user experience, user interface, and service design. We approach new business development strategically with a philosophy of finding the best partners whose values align with our own.
Here at YML, I'll be focused on developing new client opportunities while also growing a team.
My wife and I are from Finland, and we’ve been in the Bay Area for about two and a half years - living in the Marina in San Francisco.
I was actually a professional football (soccer) player in Europe for different clubs - including some time at Manchester City - the current Premier League champions. I was captain on many of those clubs, and it gave me a great passion for working with people and bringing a collaborative spirit to everything I do.
YML is really going places. I was really impressed and excited by our growth, and the caliber of work and caliber of clients we partner with. Here at YML we have a unique ability to marry design and technology in ways that make a lasting impact on people’s lives. This is one of the biggest challenges and opportunities that the tech industry can address for this next phase of human culture on the planet.
On top of that, this is a truly great group of people and I’m excited to come to work every day and interact with the best and brightest in the valley.
The job we're doing - the clients we have - is going to change the world. How people experience technology is so important, and it will affect everything from personal relationships, the economy, and our future as a society enabled by automation. Being at the forefront of innovation and design, and what this means to our clients, is something that is amazing. We get to create something new.
What’s really cool about YML is we’re plugged into the very core of our clients businesses, and we have a front row seat to how they are approaching these kinds of experience transformations.
I really love what Nike has done with their brand. It’s not necessarily about their products - but what they stand for, and what their values represent to customers. It’s all very holistic and doesn’t depend on any single channel. I think there’s a lot we can learn from them to create products and services that land this kind of emotional impact.
Any outdoor activity is great - but in reality these days it’s spending a lot of time with our seven-month old baby.
Ask an avid Starbucks-goer why they love Starbucks and the answer is sure to go beyond the coffee. They may talk about the ritual of grabbing a coffee in the morning and knowing they can rely on that consistent, familiar experience at any starbucks around the world. Or they may rejoice over the ease of ordering and managing the loyalty perks with the Starbucks mobile app. Or the excitement of waiting for seasonal drinks and custom designed cups around the holidays every year.
What brands like Starbucks and other customer-centric giants like Virgin America and Amazon have mastered is the ability to differentiate themselves through the value of a memorable customer experience.
In order to get the customer experience strategy right, brands need to commit to not only understanding their customers, but being empathetic to their experiences and journey as well. Only through empathetic interactions and customer understanding can brands anticipate customers expectations and provide a customer journey map that adds value at the right time and in the right place.
In this article, I will walk you through the necessary steps to build an informative and actionable Customer Journey Map that will be an invaluable tool for your brand to understand customer needs and improve your business model.
Customer Journey Mapping is the process of identifying and describing all the experiences customers have today as they interact with your brand. It takes into account what happens to customers during their experiences, their responses to them, and how those experiences make them feel in every step. By building a customer journey map, an organization can identify and manage the customer experience at every point of the journey, address the processes and tools that are creating friction and then create new and effortless intelligent customer experiences.
Combine that with customer data and you have a compelling picture that can help uncover any gaps between what customer expect and what they actually experience, allowing organizations to optimize a customer experience strategy that closes that gap and increases customer satisfaction.
Here are some examples of how you can visualize your Customer Journey Map.
In addition to uncovering value for customers, breaking down the business model across stages of a particular customer journey has business benefits, too.
Brands that have a clear understanding of their customer experience strategy and tactical options from the customer journey map view, enjoy operational cost savings by eliminating unnecessary trustpoints, boosting conversion rates and increase customer loyalty and advocacy by creating effortless journeys, improving brand equity by enhancing value and improving customer awareness, and increasing employee satisfaction and engagement by improving their experience.
Next we’ll walk through a step by step guide on creating a strong customer journey map.
Start by clarifying the business goal that your journey mapping initiative will support.
For instance, if you are a Home Improvement retailer, the business objective might be to retain your market position against a competitor like Amazon.
Start with the needs and priorities of the most valued or most “growable” customer and think of a problematic journey for that customer.
If you don’t have personas defined, you should include the development of personas as part of the journey mapping initiative and overall customer experience management strategy.
Personas are rich narratives describing needs (both known needs that the customer can identify, and the latent needs that they can not), motivations, attitudes, goals, behaviors, preferences, and pain points.
Personas development should always be backed by data and research. Both qualitative and quantitative research assist uncovering customers’ experiences and their emotional states throughout their journey. Collect internal insights by taking inventory of the customer knowledge the company has. Leverage front-line employees as they will typically have already amassed a lot of insight into the voice of customer, (VOC). They will be able to help provide information about some of the trustpoints and which ones they feel have the most significant pain points associated with them.
By drilling into the voice of the employees (VOE), it is possible to see which trustpoints are the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty.
Understand your personas expectations as they can help inform what value means to them and ensure your value proposition is framed correctly. It will also assist in your customer experience management by ensuring they have the best possible interaction with your brand.
Let’s continue with our example of the Home Improvement retailer.
One of their personas is “Melissa”. Melissa is a single mother of two living on a single family income. She loves to entertain and showcase her home to friends and family, so maintaining and improving her space is important to her.
While Melissa loves the idea of remodeling and updating her space, she hates thinking about what it’s going to take to get there: finding a contractor she can trust, managing the communication with all the parties involved, keeping the project on-track, etc.
The Job To Be Done is specific to customer types and occasions, and it is typically written as an actionable statement.
Melissa’s JTBD is “Remodel my kitchen”.
It is also essential to understand the key drivers behind the JTBD part of the customer journey
In Melissa’s case, she’s looking to get her kitchen remodeled in preparation for a big anniversary celebration at her home.
It is paramount that your team understand the end-to-end journey before you begin getting into the details. You should build an intelligent customer experience with stages that represent your customer’s Job To Be Done, not your organization’s internal process steps. The stages of this customer journey map should represent a key purpose your customer is trying to achieve in their overall journey.
By clearly understanding your customer’s goals in each stage of their journey, your team will be able to evaluate the customer experience management strategy the organization is currently delivering and how close or how far you are from meeting your customer’s goals.
Take a look at some possible stages for Melissa’s customer journey map below:
1. Inspiration: - How do I want my kitchen to look like?
2. Planning: - How much is this project going to cost and where will I be buying everything from?
4. Committing: - I'm ready to start.
5. Execution - What now?
6. Enjoyment - The party will be a success and my kitchen is going to be the topic of the night.
A Trustpoint is any point of interaction along the customer journey map between the brand and the customer, where a brand can make or break the customer’s trust. Achieving clear insights into the different Trustpoints across the customer experience strategy and the relative importance for each Trustpoint will bring visibility into customer's moments of truth.
In some cases, there may be too many Trustpoints to realistically map out while maintaining a 10,000 feet view of the customer journey. The key to an intelligent customer experience is always to keep a holistic view from the customer’s perspective.
For our example, Melissa goes from the web to get inspired to the store to see materials, talks to an associate to get additional ideas, and goes back home and continues on her ipad with customers reviews on products. All valid trustpoints under the "Getting Inspired" stage.
To fully understand and manage the customer’s experience throughout their journey with your brand, you must capture the customer’s emotions. You can leverage the empathy map tool which it’s used to garner deep insights about how your customer think, feel, hear, and what they do.
While Melissa may experience great excitement in the initial inspiration stages of her remodel, she can quickly become overwhelmed during planning, with too many design and product possibilities to potentially frustration is she is not able to buy the products she wants once she makes a decision.
Understanding your personas’ emotions at each stage of the journey allows your company to anticipate potential points of friction and proactively take steps to remove them and optimize your customer experience strategy.
Now, you translate all the analysis into a simple visual representation including the assessment of their experience. The experience evaluation identifies the points in the customer journey map that are creating friction and those that are delighting your customers.
The customer experience improvements could be evaluated based on:
Moments of truth are those make or break moments in the course of customer experience management when you have the chance to earn their true loyalty by removing friction. Identifying moments of truth allows you to focus on the customer’s experience (actual and desired) rather than the transactional relationship and highlights which of those trustpoints are the most important to optimize for your customer.
By walking through Melissa’s customer journey map, our retailer has uncovered a few potential points of friction.
From here, they can evaluate their current customer experience strategy and optimize as needed:
Customer experience and digital transformation requires organizations to go a few levels deeper from the customer journey map, this is known as Service Blueprint.
Service Blueprint is a perfect approach to omnichannel customer experience. By mapping the frontstage and backstage on one customer journey map, you can create visibility to the internal resources, technology, processes and regulations that are responsible for delivering an intelligent customer experience. They pinpoint dependencies between employee-facing and customer-facing processes in the same visualization and are pivotal in identifying pain points, simplifying interactions, reducing costs for the organization, and improving the experience for its customers.
There are some key elements to be considered in Service Blueprinting:
Service Blueprinting forces organizations to represent what occurs internally throughout the totality of the customer journey map, giving organizations insight to redundancies and dependencies that departments alone could not see.
How can our retailer create a customer experience management strategy that had a single view of the customer to ensure we remove any effort and frustration from Melissa's journey? What are the systems behind supporting Melissa's journey? Which departments will have to work together to ensure a smooth journey?
If a product is on backorder, distribution center will create an update on the backend that will trigger a notification for the associate who has been working with Melissa on her Kitchen remodel. The associate will see how imperative is to meet the deadline and looks for similar products that can keep Melissa's project on track. The associate connects with Melissa and while Melissa is not happy about changing plans, appreciates that the associate has other good options for her to choose from.
By now, the Moments of Truth have already provided a lens through which you can prioritize investment for the most critical trustpoints in the customer journey map. One way to help you prioritize is to create a top ten list of improvements projects.
To prioritize your customer experience management, you can use a simple Prioritization Matrix with importance to the customer, importance to the business, and the technical feasibility. You can also consider using conjoint analysis, asset classes, or regression analysis.
Keep in mind the multidimensional nature of a customer journey and assign a weight to the impact of each step to the organization success.
Also, remember that customer experience improvement should:
Once the opportunities for optimizing your customer experience strategy have been prioritized, list out the key opportunities on the map itself. Now, the customer journey map is a tool you can use for action planning where you can identify key opportunities for improvement, assess their impact, their ROI, and ultimately set investment priorities for your organization.
Always remember that customer journey maps can only provide value if:
Like a road map, a Customer Journey Map bridges the gap between customer experience strategy and the supporting tactics that will bring that new experience to live. A Customer Journey Map cuts through the clutter and provides a comprehensive view of your current customer interactions across departments, services/products, segments, and marketing efforts.
By breaking down the business model across stages of a particular customer journey, it is possible to model where cost can be reduced, and revenues can be generated in relation with where the value is created for the most valuable customer. Once you have the understanding of where you need to improve, you will be able to deliver innovative solutions with an optimized customer experience strategy that responds to your customers’ needs.
A branded customer experience that delivers consistently across all customers channels in a way that adds value to the core customer proposition will intentionally differentiate you from the competition.