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Customer Experience Consulting 101, Part 2: Using Customer Experience Research to Understand Your CX

Customer Experience Consulting 101, Part 2: Using Customer Experience Research to Understand Your CX

In the first blog post in our customer experience consulting series, we discussed ways to effectively lay the groundwork and kickstart new initiatives. Once you’ve completed these important first steps, it’s time to really dig in! 

Customer journey mapping is a key customer experience research method that will reveal how well your CX is working — or whether it’s missing the mark. 

Build understanding and engagement with customer journey mapping

Done right, customer journey mapping is a great early step to understand your customer experience and create a foundation for additional CX discovery. We typically recommend organizations start with an internal workshop that engages up to two dozen mid-level, cross-functional employees. These sessions can be useful to define key aspects of the customer experience — including touchpoints, success drivers, and emotions. While it may seem counterintuitive to start a customer-focused effort with an employee workshop, this approach offers a quick way to create a complete view of the customer journey. 

Even better, it enables you to consolidate the rich customer insights that already exist in your organization, actively engage stakeholders and employees in the CX process, and create a journey-centric dialog with shared ownership of the results.

Research customers and employees to identify your biggest opportunities 

As you begin to validate the findings uncovered during your workshops, you’ll have the whole customer experience research toolkit at your disposal — from qualitative methods like ethnographic interviews and online research communities to quantitative methods such as key driver analyses and path to purchase studies. 

In our experience, combining methods yields the broadest and most powerful results. Qualitative research generally enables a deeper exploration and yields rich insights, while quantitative research provides a more representative and statistically defensible direction.

We recommend exploring how both customers and employees view the journey, because misalignments between customer and employee perceptions all too often upend CX initiatives.

Experience 360®

One of our best tools to identify any such misalignments is a proprietary quantitative research method we call our Experience 360® . Customers and employees are asked to rate the importance of various customer experience touchpoints. We ask employees to consider the customer’s perspective as they complete the survey, then we ask actual customers the same questions to ascertain how they really feel about their experiences.

When data shows a clear gap between the customer and employee perspective, executives usually lean forward and listen!

Trace customer experience gaps back to their internal root causes

Poor customer experiences often have internal root causes. To understand why employees might not be creating exceptional experiences, you need to really understand the strategies, processes, policies, and tools in place behind the major experience gaps identified through your Experience 360® research. We assess various organizational dimensions (such as hiring criteria, incentives, and metrics) to identify structural barriers and provide recommendations for addressing them. 

You should also evaluate what your team believes is holding them back from delivering great CX. We’re upfront with our questions in focus groups and short surveys: we ask your team what’s blocking them in different areas, from tools and technology to leadership and management. 

Time to activate! 

Once the research is complete, you’re ready to use deliverables and quick-win action plans to activate your new customer experience initiatives. You’ll be able to take the insights generated from the research and engage stakeholders in prioritization and action planning. 

In the next blog in our customer experience consulting 101 series, we’ll explore the top principles of CX design.

About the Author

Material is a modern marketing services company powered by sophisticated analytics, deep human understanding, and design thinking.