Recently, I interviewed the Chief Customer Officer and Head of Customer Experience and Global Sales Excellence at Ericsson for my vlogcast, which will be available in the coming weeks. During our conversation, we talked about over-complicated enterprise software and, in general, about complex system designs vs. simplification and intuitive design for humans. These often help or harm the generation of adoption or usage. During our discussion, we reflected on companies that are utilizing or acquiring enterprise software and how many companies don’t take user needs into consideration when acquiring certain systems.
Coming from the enterprise software sector, I had to negotiate or add to our road map new features and functionalities to ensure we met customer requirements and to ensure our product generated adoption. In customer experience (CX), this is almost synonymous with retention and satisfaction. The question is: “At what point do customer requirements start to be counter-intuitive, perhaps even turning employees or users off?” With the cloud, we can clearly design and adapt much faster – even in days or hours – compared with on-premises solutions. However, when too many features or functionalities are used or requested, it can also start to hurt our ultimate goal of efficiency in solving customer problems. How can we balance human psychology, mental models, and their impacts on adoption?
Listening to customers is essential for any business. Embedded within customer experience is the voice of the customer, and there is a constant discussion between product management and R&D in almost daily life. As leaders, we must analyze and include customer needs in our evolving product road map and delivery – if we expect to retain customers, as I wrote about before. Therefore, to attend to customer requests in terms of technology enhancements is imperative, and it’s a significant tool for enhancing customer perception and sentiment about your brand and technology. It will help you demonstrate your commitment as a company and engage your customer in a continuous conversation. The feedback loop that helps companies improve is part of the foundation of any customer experience. When you adapt and add features, your company is trying to make its product/service better and please customers to ensure they will stick with your brand. The problem here is knowing when to stop adding requested features.
It’s a conundrum. The more features and functionalities we add, the more complex a technology can become for user adoption. On the other hand, if you don’t follow this route, you may lose users and customers. How can we deal with this conundrum? I will express my thoughts here based on my work with SAP and Samsung and try to bring some practical ideas.
It’s always a challenge for technology companies of any size – from a startup or mid-size company to large ones like IBM, Siemens, Fujitsu, Tencent or even Microsoft – to balance this. When we speak about customer experience and discuss its verticals, sentiment is a key factor that impacts your customer experience.
How does your organization manage this key challenge?
What approach should you take to solve this dilemma for your company?
Let’s consider Oracle, SAS, SAP, and Salesforce for instance, with their diverse portfolios of technology solutions and great portfolio of customers. Their customers, needs their solutions to manage data, operations, procurement, and many other things – from CRM to BI or ERP systems. But why do they still deliver complex systems, and (even more importantly) why do organizations still acquire their solutions if they are perceived as complex systems in many cases? I don’t really know the answer to this, but I suppose it’s connected with the ability of those technologies to effectively solve our company’s challenges. The fact is, we cannot make all things as intuitive and simple as we wish, since many things are complex, and we need to deal with them in trying to help our customers – from the design to the efficient onboarding program – to facilitate their lives and ours, since it is about their success. Even if adoption is difficult. How could we better measure and define our requirements vs. the level of complexity to avoid turning employees off and harming adoption?
Companies cannot ignore any requests or ‘’fixes.’’ You can continue to deliver top services by listening to customer requests with the high attention and concern that they deserve. The trick is to prioritize properly, address the enquiries accordingly, and keep the customer updated.
When I observe those kinds of challenges, I sometimes ask myself how so many organizations, companies, and CX leaders can possibility deliver great customer and employee experiences if they have no idea of the key impacts that are often generated by the bad design, by over-complexity, and by a lack of understanding of the basic concept of digital or physical products and services in real day-to-day busines life. Today, we have many different, basic frameworks that evolved into experience management. Now we must add to that product and service design, along with many other areas of design and engineering, and the list goes on.
Remember, you can have the best culture and brand, as well as a great CX and EX, but if your product or service fails your customers, nothing will prevent churn. #CX #customerexperience #cxo ‘productdesign #custexp #services… Click To Tweet
Empathy works over the medium- and long-term, as long as you deliver on your company promises. Unfortunately and ‘’fortunately” at the end of the day, many boards, c-suite members, and leaders still only focusing as a measure of success in the revenue generated and ROI. Instead of seeing adoption, retention, loyalty, customer engagement, and simplification as a leverage tool to enhance consistency, growth and revenue. The combined impact of a great experience, great products, and great people will lead your company toward adoption and a greater ability to generate growth in annual recurring revenue (ARR).
However, as more features or functionalities create more complexity, it will be more difficult for certain individuals to adopt and understand the solution. Why is this important? Because while you should listen to customer requests to enhance your products – or at least add suggestions to your evolving product road map – you need to prioritize and manage the process to deliver what customers actually need. Here are 3 suggestions that will directly impact your customer engagement and adoption, and will improve your customer relationships – for both B2B and B2C.
Decide what is crucial and what is nice to have:
It’s key to differentiate between the urgency or importance of customer requests and your capacity to deliver it. Whether it’s a new customer account or an old one should not be a real factor in your decision. Keep your listening mode open, keep communication and feedback lines open, and engage with customers. Focus on delivering great experiences and going beyond the basics of customer-centricity. How long the customer has been with you doesn’t really matter; what does is the service level and the real need for the change. A collaborative team of leaders from CX, product design, development, delivery, engineering, and sales must decide conjointly with customers if possible, what is crucial now (or later) and what is only nice to have. Each company measures this in different ways. Decisions should take into consideration the fact that some requests really are urgent and that it can depend on the perception of the situation by decision-makers on the team. Always bear in mind that that importance and urgency are not the same
Decide how your company should prioritize:
Organize the operation parameters and its process when receiving tickets asking for change. Understand the way customers prioritize requests and why one may be their top priority.
- Medium-priority requests include inquiries about product usage and troubleshooting, which often will not affect the customer’s ability to use and adopt the product. The approach for B2B and B2C here will be very similar. Small- and medium-priority requests still require an immediate response and depend on the kind of SLA’s you have with this company.
- High-priority requests presented by customers are issues that prevent or slow their ability to solve the problems that your technology was acquired to resolve. Often these kinds of inquiries require an immediate response.
- Top-priority requests often present a show-stopper. In this case, the problem being experienced prevents a customer from utilizing your product or services. You should solve these requests first; add them to the top of your queue. If it turns out to be a larger issue, you’ll need to pursue a solution with product and R&D as soon as possible, because if it happens to one customer, it will eventually appear to others – especially in cloud solutions without specific customizations.
- ROI-oriented priorities. In some companies, it’s hard to say no to direct customer requests –something they say they must have – because of concerns about revenue. However every request needs an analyses related to value, effort, cost, and allocation of resources. The ROI is not always worth it. Will this effort benefit other future customers? Everything needs to be thoroughly discussed. Income doesn’t always equal a better user experience. In the long run, happier customers are what will bring you the most success.
- All requests are important, but what is perceived as a dramatic ticket for customer A can be perceived differently to customer D and C. Therefore, having the right process, facts, and triggers for making the right decision is crucial for your organization as a solution supplier in any sector. Your SLA’s also play a role here, especially in multidisciplinary, software enterprise solution sectors.
Prioritize requests in a customer-centric way:
Let customers define their priority level, because they will most likely use a set of criteria that’s different from your company’s. This helps you take the first step in developing a positive, collaborative relationship with your customers over the long term. In many cases, customers prioritize correctly. In my experience, you should also be sure to develop request tickets that are easy to use. Try to make it very intuitive for your customers by asking questions that will help your team to decide how to solve the problem quickly and how to allocate the right resources to get it done. When you have all the data you need, this will give your team a sense of clarity and, potentially, different ways to solve the problem.
Your company should validate its process with an experimentation approach. Use pre-defined metrics and measures that have been agreed upon with the customers requesting those changes. A very good way to analyze is to utilize a simple Effort and Impact Matrix analysis when integrating an entirely new feature into your systems. Always experiment prior to going live with production systems in any technology.
Your thoughts will be appreciated? Share if you liked and if you don’t tell me why. Coming soon my conversation with Shep Hyken. Stay tuned!