At THE ICONIC we are passionate about creating great customer experiences. It’s quite common for us to evolve our rituals and processes to support our customers’ needs. Coupled with this, whenever we see an opportunity to break barriers between teams and departments, we grab it and work in tandem towards the same goal.
Even after having OKRs in place, aligning goals and priorities across the whole business is a tricky affair. Over time, we discovered that having our teams aligned on strategic initiatives wasn’t enough. We needed a way to detect and resolve pressing customer pain points — something light-weight — that would allow us to monitor and keep a close eye on the quality of our customer experience and fast-track a solution, the moment a problem is spotted.
After much trial and error, we settled upon introducing the concept of a cross-functional working group. The group now has representatives from UX, Product Management, Tech, Data, Marketplace, Customer Service, Finance and the Fulfilment Centre Operations teams, as well as our CTO. Such a varied range of knowledge and experience makes it easier for the group to identify customer problems, quantify them, and formulate potential solutions.
Our process involves four stages: Customer Problem Exploration, Ideation, Shape Up and Review, which is inspired by the Double Diamond Approach.
#1 Problem Exploration
First, we gain insights from NPS surveys and review trends surfaced by our Customer Service team. Based on such findings, we then create a list of issues and prioritise them on the basis of impact, using a simple formula:
Impact = NPS * Percentage of customers impacted
NPS: How painful is the problem?
This is very straightforward, where we use the NPS value to determine this.
The percentage of the total number of all customers impacted by the issue. It could also be a segment e.g. new customers.
After multiplying both values, we obtain a prioritised list and take the top three issues to the next stage — “Ideation”. It’s worth noting that we need not overcomplicate this part, as we’re just looking for signals that can be validated by our Customer Service team.
During this stage, the group brainstorms potential solutions for the identified problems. Solutions may fall into two groups: prevention – how can we prevent this from happening? And mitigation – what can we do once it has occurred? We asynchronously vote on the proposed solutions that we believe would be worthwhile exploring in greater detail. After voting, the top 3–5 ideas are taken to the next stage — “Shape Up”.
#3 Shape Up
The group is split into smaller teams (2–3 people maximum in each team) to “Shape Up” an idea. During this stage, the team undertakes further exploration: refining a solution, validating it, gathering additional data, consulting with domain experts, and thereby creating a memo capturing additional details. We tend to keep such memos brief and concise (2 pages maximum) and outline the content into five sections, which are as follows:
- Problem — a refresher on the customer problem that needs to be prevented or mitigated.
- Solution and Customer Benefit — describes how a solution can benefit affected customers, as well as success metrics.
- Effort and Cost — covers the work that needs to be undertaken and teams that would need to be involved to make it happen.
- Risks and Considerations — specifies unknowns and all the things that could potentially go wrong.
- Recommendation — provides advice on what to do next: discard, tweak or prioritise this solution.
It is important to note that a memo is not a prescribed solution. It’s a concept to the point that we’re confident it’s worth investing and executing.
During the final stage, presented memos are reviewed by the group. We add comments, ask for clarification and propose different options. We don’t always agree on the approach or overall recommendation. And that’s fine and even expected at this stage!
What happens then is dependent on the initiative. From this point onwards, even rejected ideas might be taken up by the person responsible for a particular part of the process or customer journey.
Some matters, if small enough and isolated, for example, internal process adjustments, may be dealt with right away; the more complex ones that require Tech involvement, are taken up by the respective product owner for further shaping and prioritisation with their squad.
Closing the Loop
There’s a need to measure every change we make, but we don’t always do it. It is only when a change impacts a critical part of the users’ experience or has an additional cost associated with it, that we pay heed; incremental changes are not measured explicitly.
If we make the right changes, it will not surface during the “Problem Exploration” stage and eventually disappear from the radar.
- We tackle the most pressing issues our customers experience and aim to improve customer experience incrementally. We know it works for us because problems get resolved. By continuously seeking and eradicating customer pain points, we develop a long-term relationship with the customer.
- When team members are focused on a specific customer problem, it helps cut through business complexities and gets the work done straightaway. It creates transparency, encourages autonomy, and boosts knowledge-sharing. As a result, the teams already know what and most importantly, why a particular initiative is prioritised for the upcoming quarter. We are ready to support each other so that our customers have a better experience.
- We have also learnt that proposed solutions spark conversations in the other teams, and are surfaced in their OKRs.
- Our aim is to make the entire process completely asynchronous. This should eliminate the need for all the people to be present at the same place, at the same time, while creating sufficient space to think over a problem or concept, in greater detail.
Feel free to get in touch on Twitter @MaxAntonovAU if you have any questions or find yourself simply stuck!
P.S. Read this article to learn how THE ICONIC creates seamless and inspiring customer experiences with AfterShip