Immersing Yourself in Your Customers’ World

customers_worldWe know that it’s important to create the customer journey map from the customer’s perspective. But how do we go about getting and incorporating that perspective? Once you’ve identified your touchpoints, you want to reach a good, solid understanding of what happens at those touchpoints and how your customers feel about their interactions and experiences.  Of course, one way is to just ask customers, whether through surveys or via other listening posts. Another way to get that perspective is through Customer Immersion.

What is Customer Immersion? No, we’re not going to drown your customers! What we’re going to do is spend “a day in the life of” a customer, a day when he interacts with your products, your services, your touchpoints. We’re going to understand what the business looks like from the customer point of view.

Customer Immersion is a great way for executives to connect with their customers by interacting with the business as a customer and through observing and talking to actual customers about their experiences. It helps to rebalance them and to center them on what’s important. It’s a reminder that they are in business for the customer and that decisions they make at the top every day do trickle down to the customer experience. It brings the voice of the customer to life.

One of the best examples of Customer Immersion we were able to find is Adobe’s Customer Immersion Program.  Adobe was one of the Forrester 2011 Voice of the Customer Awards recipients because of this program.

Through their Customer Immersion Program, they have made changes to how they do business, including how they listen to customers. Here are some highlights of the video. The Adobe Customer Immersion Program allowed Adobe executives and senior leaders to:

  • Play the role of the customer and walk in their customers’ shoes
  • Understand what it’s like to do business with Adobe
  • Identify if the experience matches the Adobe brand promise
  • Hear about complexities of doing business with Adobe
  • Put the customer first, think about their perspective, and understand their experiences
  • See issues customers were experience and opportunities for improvement come to life

They learned that:

  • “Business speak” is project plans, strategies, and metrics, but that’s not what customers care about nor how a business should necessarily think; think in “customer speak,” instead
  • Listening posts are assets to the organization that help drive the experience
  • Hearing and seeing it first-hand has a much greater impact than if someone just told them about it

As a result of the Customer Immersion Program, executives:

  • Were exposed to actual customer experiences and want to create awareness throughout the organization to help drive change
  • Are forced to change how: they work, do business, think about the problems they solve, and the solutions they devise.

One other example that is well-documented is Credit Suisse’s Customer Immersion efforts. This link takes you to an interview David McQuillen, Credit Suisse’s Vice President of Customer Experience. Through their Customer Immersion Program, they were forced to think differently about its customers and how they interact with them.

Both companies’ programs yield excellent details that you want to incorporate into your customer journey map and shared throughout the organization. You can bring videos, images, and observations about your customer touchpoints and interactions into your Touchpoint Dashboard journey map. This brings the touchpoint to life for those who are using the journey map. And don’t forget to share your maps! They are not meant to sit on your desktop alone.