When an experience falls short, do you know how to diagnose the root cause?
Could it be an unintended consequence of a single event like an innovation, or was the foundation unstable to begin with?
The symptoms that impact customer experience come in two forms. They can be gradual and hidden. For our readers who are parents, think about that lower back pain you might feel when picking up your kids; you’re never really sure when it started or why it’s happening. Then there are the acute symptoms that occur quickly and in plain sight. For the parents, think legos and bare feet. Identifying your chronic and acute symptoms is the first step to improving performance and your customer experience. Conducting an Experience Audit to understand the source of these symptoms is the logical next step.
Here are the symptoms to look out for that are telltale signs that you need an Experience Audit.
These nagging, gradual symptoms include;
Declining KPIs such as Net Promoter scores, satisfaction, and other key metrics
Declining sales year over year
An underperforming business unit, business channel, or division
An audit focused on the overall experience with all stakeholders, from your customers to your employees, will find the source of the symptoms and help you course-correct to close the experience gap. Just like your annual checkup with your doctor for that lower back pain, routine audits will help uncover problems early.
You might have a hypothesis but not a precise location to look for underlying issues when you start an audit. So then, where should you start? Commonly, there are forces outside the business that cause these symptoms. These forces include, but aren’t limited to, competitors entering a new market, changes in brand perception (did you know customers decide what your brand is, not your marketing department?), cultural shifts, and elevated customer expectations brought on by your competition. Try to look outward to see if any of these forces correlate to the symptoms your experiencing.
Don’t see any of these external forces? That’s ok! You successfully eliminated these root causes and can now shift your focus internally.
Chronic symptoms develop over several months, even years. So it’s important to identify and remedy these issues early before they can cause significant damage to your bottom line.
Acute symptoms are often easier to pinpoint because they hit hard and present themselves right upfront.
These symptoms include;
Sudden drop in KPIs
Atypical sales patterns
Sudden increase in customer service complaints
Unexpected loss of a long-term client
These are typically caused by a known process change, innovation roll-out, or reorganization... to name a few. While acute symptoms are often the result of internal decisions versus market forces, we all learned in 2020 that market forces could move rapidly. But let’s leave disaster and crisis planning for another post.
To face these issues head-on, try conducting a diagnostic-focused Experience Audit that starts at the epicenter of the symptom, then works outward to diagnose any interdependencies. The result is a clear picture of the problem, symptom, and remedy. Want to know a little more about our process?
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It’s worth mentioning that acute symptoms are often preventable! If you don’t have this already, you should explore what it takes to create an ongoing experience audit program. This means owning the process, looking for the gaps, and being ready to pivot by conducting regular pilot-test audits and reviewing new roll-outs and changes. These programs are especially helpful if you have an innovation lab, a product development team, a service design team, or an in-store environment team that continually updates the end-user experience.
It’s easy to see experience issues when the symptoms are right in front of you. Knowing where to find a solution is the challenge. That’s where we can help! Our Experience Audits get to the heart of your problem and are the first step to identify customer experience strengths and weaknesses. With experience gaps, timing is important. That’s why our team moves swiftly to understand the problem so you can make the right decisions to execute a solution and get back on track.
Every situation is different and specific to your business challenges. Our iterative approach allows us to identify common and uncommon problem areas while making a diagnosis sooner. We will course correct or change the audit plan as we go based on what we learn. This is not a cookie-cutter process, and that’s why it works. It is a tailored, custom-designed process for you and your business based on data and observations collected from the source.
Think you have a nagging, chronic symptom? Notice a sudden drop in curbside sales? Connect with our experience designers to get to the bottom of it!