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Delivering Customer Experience - a 3 Dimensional Model

by Clive Hickman, European Insight Manager at SmartWorld

March 2013

There is a lot of focus on the importance of Customer Experience and how crucial it is that it is delivered consistently.

In simple terms this means 'Every Customer Every Time', and said quickly it sounds straight forward. But as anyone involved in Operations, Logistics, Customer Management, or working in a customer-facing role knows, this is far from easy.

Breaking the task of delivering Customer Experience into its component parts helps to understand the subject and helps you take control of this part of your business.

In this case you can think of delivering Customer Experience as being a three dimensional problem.

There is a need to deliver consistently in Space, across Time, and up/down the Management structure.

Where, in this model:


x is Space = Countries, Regions, Areas and each Store
y is Time = Across Seasons, Months, Days and Hours
z is Management = Area Managers and Store

Clearly Space and Management can be quite similar, but like height and width they are certainly not the same. For example, differences in performance at Regional level may be due to variations in Regional Management or they could be due to a physical difference in the areas; such as the catchment profiles or the competitive landscape.

In mitigation, it is true that most companies will look at performance by Region and look at trends over Time, but there is more that needs to be done and understood.

Bar charts, dashboards and line graphs showing performance and trends are all fine, but they do not tell the whole story.

When it comes to the Space dimension, plotting performance on GIS maps represents an opportunity to deliver insight above and beyond that which may have already been gained from standard charting. It helps to bring new perspectives and helps the business to draw new meaning from the data. For one SmartWorld client it was only when their individual store results were plotted on a map that an important pattern was identified. In this case there was a clear weakness in the company's performance along key major roads. This was something that no end of cross tabulations or graphs could have revealed.

news7-2 Such maps become even more insightful when you can animate them over time (like weather maps), showing how local and regional performance changes over time. They can convey information on two different dimensions at once.
Fortunately, such infographics are becoming more familiar, and are now available in some BI tools, including SmartWorld's own BI platform.
Given the Space and Management dimensions are usually better understood, this article will focus on the Time dimension.
Performance tends to be measured on different timescales to suit the particular needs of a business. Trends over time are monitored and analysed to see if progress is being made and things are improving, or if things are starting to slip somewhere in the business.


However, it's possible to do more than simply look at Trends. Time may or may not be a continuum, (depending on your following of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Dr Who) but we can certainly 'slice and dice' it and look at it in ways other than as a straight line.

Take a look at the following figure:

Performance by Day of Week and Time of Day


The 'surface' above represents the business performance of one of our Clients.

It represents how successful they are in delivering Customer Experience to their customers throughout the week, by looking at their Net Promoter Score (NPS). The green island represents the time when Customer Experience delivery is good, the grey valleys are when delivery falls short.

When we take a slightly different perspective and view the surface from above, it starts to look a little like an office planner.

Plan View: Office Week Planner


It now becomes very clear that for much of the week the company is failing to deliver 'Good' Customer Experience (all the Grey parts of the figure above). Most obviously, the late afternoons and evenings are below par every day of the week; and much of the weekend is also a cause for concern.

At this point it is advisable to look at the 'Footfall' (volume of traffic) and/or revenue across the week. It's possible to plot this as a surface map in exactly the same way. There is nothing more sobering (or reassuring), than the realisation that at your peak trading times, when you are at your busiest, your customers are likely to be receiving the poorest (or best) Customer Experience from you.

Identifying these times when service is weak and quantifying the volume of business affected enables you to appreciate the extent to which your business is being put at risk at specific times through failing to provide the Customer Experience your customers might reasonably expect from you.

Revenue taken during times when NPS is 'Good' can be considered relatively safe revenue. Whilst the revenue taken during times when NPS is particularly 'Poor' can be considered at risk.

Expressing this 'At Risk' revenue as the proportion of your total revenue puts matters into stark relief. But this figure also provides a very useful KPI, a metric for measuring your progress as you move forward.

It is this level of insight that really focuses attention onto what should be done to improve matters.

The challenge now is to identify why this is happening. How is it that customer service is failing and letting the customers down?

Having recognised the problem, you may well choose to revert back to more traditional analysis to look at such areas as Queue lengths, Waiting Times, Staff Levels, Hospitality, Product Quality, and Cleanliness, but even these could be looked at as 'surfaces'.

A Surface map of Average Queue Lengths (Indexed Numbers)


Whichever route you choose, the task is to identify the root cause(s) and to define a plan of action to improve Customer Experience.  But take heart, having identified and quantified the problem, you are already well on the way to fixing it. The below example shows how we have helped one of our Clients to take steps that have a tangible positive impact on their Customer Experience.

Section Score by Hour of the Day

  Before   After
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It is rarely possible to resolve everything and make things perfect, so we must always be honest about our expectations. There will always be weaknesses and holes in performance.

In the above graphs, 'after' is a year later and clearly there is still room for further improvement. The objective is to create a framework to drive improvements. Then you can measure, re-map and re-asses the business. You can re-calculate the percentage of revenue still being put at risk through poor Customer Experience and you can build an updated strategy for the future. Like evolution it is a process of continuous improvement.

Before After
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The aim is that over time the island grows bigger and bigger, and the map grows greener and the valleys gradually disappear, creating a green and pleasant land.

And of course a more successful and thriving business evolves.

Contact us to find out more.