Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Waltzing Through Time with the Customer Experience Matrix

One of my favorite business truisms is “you manage what you measure.” The 21st century corollary may well be “you manage what you visualize,” since nearly every modern reporting system relies on graphs and diagrams to present information that makes sense and highlights priorities as efficiently as possible.

The Customer Experience Matrix is part of this trend, since its core promise (though not the only one!) is to build a single picture showing all customer contacts across all channels and life stages. The simple act of visualizing those contacts gives managers a first step towards controlling, coordinating and ultimately optimizing them.

But how exactly do you present those contacts? Loyal readers of this blog are presumably familiar with the basic Matrix layout: channels down the side and contact categories across the top. The definition of channels is fairly intuitive, but contact categories can be a bit slippery. We usually call them “life stages”, suggesting they follow a linear sequence. But they are really events that can happen in different order and even be repeated. For example, customers may ask questions about a product before, during, or after the actual purchase.

This means is that any attempt to plot a customer’s course through the Matrix ends up with a scribble of leaps, loops, cycles and branches as customers jump from one contact to the next. There is nothing wrong with this: the world is truly that complex. But it’s hard to draw neatly.

We’ve been working lately on a demonstration system to deal with this. The practical business purpose is to help managers identify the linkages between current and future events, so they can see where improved customer treatments would have the greatest benefit. This doesn’t tell the managers what those treatments should be, but it does let them know where the opportunities lie. Since managers’ time is limited, it’s important that they focus on their energies on the most productive possibilities.

The demonstration uses a standard Customer Experience Matrix that is linked to a database of transactions classified in the two standard Matrix dimensions (channel and contact category) plus a dimension of time. Since we’re working with individual customers, time is measured relative t

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