If you’ve ever been involved in CEM consulting, you’d know how “managing” and “measuring” experience become the most important things on your to-do list…when in fact “creating” experience is actually more important. It took me a while to understand that “creating experience” is an entirely different field (experience design) and not too many people in CEM worry about it.

I think having a good working knowledge of XD is extremely important if you want to become a successful CEM consultant. Remember – design comes before management!!. If you don’t understand the design, it’s highly likely that you’ll have trouble managing it.

Here’s the wikipedia definition of XD and CEM.

XD – “Experience design (XD) is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions, with less emphasis placed on increasing and improving functionality of the design.[1] An emerging discipline, experience design draws from many other disciplines including cognitive psychology and perceptual psychologylinguistics,cognitive sciencearchitecture and environmental designhapticshazard analysisproduct design, theatre, information designinformation architectureethnographybrand strategyinteraction designservice designstorytellingheuristics, and design thinking.”

CEM – “According to Bernd Schmitt, “the term ‘Customer Experience Management’ represents the discipline, methodology and/or process used to comprehensively manage a customer’s cross-channel exposure, interaction and transaction with a company, product, brand or service.” Customer experience solutions provide strategies, process models, and information technology to design, manage and optimize the end-to-end customer experience process.”

In my pursuit of exploring CEM frameworks I’ve found many interesting models but the one I’m going to write about today is perhaps the best I’ve seen so far. It’s basically a framework to evaluate the customer experience on a B2C eCommerce website in a quantitative way. You can find the original article here.  This model was developed by 3 professors from an Italian University (Politecnico di Milano) who published it in the Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce in Dec 2009. The model has not only been tested, refined and validated on different researches and projects but was also presented in a few eCommerce summits receiving a very good reception by the business eCommerce community.

Key characteristics of the model:

  • The model is based on a Customer Journey Map made of the five main phases the consumer goes through while purchasing on a B2c eCommerce website:
    • Landing
    • Product identification
    • Product presentation
    • Cart
    • Order completion and payment

  • The phases have been analyzed in detail taking into account at least 15 drivers/features each. A set of parameters are selected to assess the features of each driver.
  • One of the key output of the analysis accomplished with the model is a “experience curve” representative of the customer experience of a specific website made of five points (one point per phase), with values between 0 (low) and 1 (high level), that allows the reader to make comparisons between different eCommerce websites and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The model can be used very effectively to understand/identify the most critical phases and features of each online store which needs to be improved.

Experience Curve (Similar to Strategy Canvas of Blue Ocean Strategy):

The scores reported in the five stages of the Customer Journey for selected online stores are compared and visualized on a chart called the “experience curve”. This visualization enables a brief but very effective representation of the experience progression of the online store throughout the five stages. It’s very easy to see positive peaks and negatives downturns following the line from a step to another, supporting various business and design considerations. Moreover using this chart is easy to compare different websites altogether within a benchmark research, providing at a glance a picture about a specific market sector or revealing strengths and pain points of one retailer against the others.

This is from an interesting research article published in The Journal of Business Research in 2008.

Some of the conclusions from this research article are slightly counter-intuitive. We have all heard about the importance of creating stickiness in experience but the research done by the authors of this article reveals that functional (utilitarian) elements of online experience are far more important than the hedonic elements created to make the users stick around on the website for a long time. I believe this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of conclusion. It’d not only vary based on who your target users are but also on how long you have been in the business. If you are just starting out with a novel idea, you want to keep things simple, so that users can easily understand and use your features. However, as you evolve, you want to do something more sophisticated and maybe include hedonic features to prevent your old users from getting bored. It’s a difficult path to tread, on one hand you want to keep things simple for new users but at the same time you also want to have some fancy features to prevent your existing users from getting bored and moving to your competitors.

Anyways, following are the key concluding ideas from this research article:

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According to Prof. Schmitt, most customer frameworks are concerned either with strategy or with implementation. Frameworks developed by general management consulting firms (for example, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Accenture) and taught in b-schools as holy grail of truth operate in the heights of corporate strategy, value chains, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses or, at best, in the world of broad-based segmentation schemes or generic market positioning maps with dots and vectors. However, as a manager, you are not told what exactly all those analyses and strategies imply for your company. That’s up to you to decide after you read the lengthy report, and once you act, you often fail.

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The CEM framework provides a powerful solution for business challenges in all kinds of industries. Here’s an indicative list of business problems that can be solved by CEM:

  • A cosmetics company redesigning the customer experience for a leading brand whose sales had become stagnant.
  • A pharmaceutical company adding interactivity with customers to its traditional R&D focus and making the experience (of both customers and employees) a key leadership initiative.
  • A company in the information business reorganising entirely around the customer experience.
  • A non-profit organisation in the music business repositioning its brand and expanding the customer experience.
  • A company in the beauty business launching a new brand with contemporary experiential appeal.
  • An advertising agency developing planning tools and metrics to provide experiential communications for their customers.
  • A company in the electronics business launching an experiential product.

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Following CEM framework was presented by Prof. Bernd Schmitt in his book Customer Experience Management: A Revolutionary Approach to Connecting with Your Customerswhich was published in 2004. I have consolidated this write-up based on related articles available for free on internet. Prof. Bernd Schmitt teaches International Business at Columbia Business School. He is also a co-founder and the CEO of The EX Group.

The CEM framework has five basic steps.

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This is a Master Thesis Presentation about “how to use design as a strategic tool to design meaningful customer experiences”. This case study was written for a company called TeliaSonera, which is the dominant telephone company and mobile network operator in Sweden and Finland. The presentation is embedded below and is also available for downloaded here. I’m highly impressed by this case study. The author is exceptionally thorough and very insightful in his approach. He seems to have done extensive research on brand strategy, design, cx, design management and implementation etc. CEM framework developed by Bernd Schmidt is used as the guiding framework for analysis. I plan to spend a lot of time reading and understanding this report. I’ll update this post again when I develop more insights.

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