How We Reinvented Our Own CX
Since our founding as a customer experience design consultancy in 2002, StoryMiners has helped over 500 clients on 700+ projects in over 20 countries (and in 4 languages). Clients rave about the business results we help them achieve with CX and story. But, last year, our own ‘rave meter’ took a dip and that concerned me. “We’re the experts,” I thought to myself. “How can this be happening to us?” Alarm bells rang in my head.
Once I remembered that our clients turn to us with the ‘we’re drifting away from our customers’ problem all the time, it dawned on me that it’s time to eat what we cook and treat ourselves like a client. So, we opened up a project file and got to work!
First, we noted the problems we saw (using our business lens):
- The number of communications on social media was way up, but quality interactions were down (so different than a year earlier)
- Referral rates had slowed
- The size of projects was shrinking, too
Then, we checked in with clients and prospects (using their lens). Starting with surveys and following up by phone, we learned what people value and want:
- Less focus on processes and more on outcomes
- To see the future more clearly—and how to get there
- Their teams to learn as a byproduct of working with us
- Smaller engagement sizes and lower costs
- Integrated services and ongoing support
Check-in calls with colleagues and friendly competitors mirrored our findings. “OK,” I thought to myself, “we’re not the only ones encountering these problems.” (Big sigh of relief.) So, I challenged our team with two questions:
- “Where can we deliver more value for clients and become a better company at the same time?”
- “What can we disrupt—in ways that leave everyone better off?”
The ideas and answers were amazing, valuable, and made me feel proud of our team and excited about the future. True to StoryMiners’ form, we wrote a new story, set in the future, and centered on our current clients’ experiences.
Basically, we decided to speed up (without creating stress for anyone), say more (by communicating less), individualize the client experience, leverage tech (and lower operating costs), streamline delivery and learning in the same workshops, and follow the two-click rule (from anywhere, whatever you want should be no more than two steps or two clicks away). The story (a narrative with storyboards) went deeper, including details about what specifically we would do differently, how it would work, and how clients might feel about it. The stories also included team members, so they could see their role in delivering a differentiated and higher-value experience.
Having our future-state experience in story form gave us the opportunity to see how all the parts might work together and how the entire experience might come across to our clients. It’s an important step because fine-tuning the story before it’s launch saves time and money as well as saves face! We’ve implemented many of the ideas from the story of our future-state experience. Here are several of our favorites:
- We ditched our CRM and replaced it with something different and way better. www.nimble.com is a game-changer for us. It helps us manage relationships smarter. By doing the research and data entry for us, Nimble frees us up to communicate individually and meaningfully with each person we know. Instead of spending hours googling people and working in batches on a schedule, Nimble lets us work on-the-fly. As we think of something, we act on it, wherever we’re working. As a reminder comes to us, we handle it. With Nimble, we’re talking less—but getting heard more. (Can you tell I love this one?) Nimble has changed how we work–and helped us improve the quality of the experience we offer.
- A new calendaring system that gives clients precision control over when they want to meet. without the usual back-and-forth emails (and delays). www.calendly.com. It literally adds hours back into each week.
- A new transcription service that is 10x faster and 1/10th the cost of our previous service. Clients and staff are somewhat relieved from the hassles of taking meeting notes. www.temi.com. Temi gives us 90% accurate transcriptions in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.
- Combining learning and doing in our workshops gives clients faster results, lower costs and an accelerated learning curve for their next generation leaders—all at the same time. Story Workout™ will be the first public workshop from StoryMiners. It’s set to launch this summer. We’re already participating in www.CXWorkout.com, a highly accelerated and quickly implementable approach to CX innovation and implementation where customers use their smartphones to contribute to better experience designs.
Is it working? Yes. Q1 revenues and the 2018 sales pipeline are higher than last year. The customer satisfaction needles are changing direction. The phone is ringing more often!
What’s the conclusion? Customer experience works—even for strategy, customer experience, and story specialists like StoryMiners.
What’s next? Well, since this worked so well with clients, it’s time to tackle the prospect and partner experiences.