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Integrating Customer Experience Management in Project Management

 

-Prakash Hegde

“The curtain is about to rise on the Experience Economy in which every business is a stage and organizations must design memorable experiences for which they charge admission”- Pine & Gilmore

With the advent of heightened consumerism, enabled by digitalization, the delivery of consistent, predictable and memorable experiences is the new “deliverable” for Project Managers.  According to Joseph Pine, we are now witnessing a new economic shift. A shift to an “experience economy”.

Centuries ago we had the “agrarian economy”. With the invention of power, equipment and machinery, the source of economic value shifted to a “goods-based Industrial economy”. Organizations than started offering and bundling “services” with goods to get a competitive advantage. Delivery of services meant use of knowledge capital (and hence human assets). And the source of value shifted to a “service economy”.

With an explosion in digital technologies, power has completely shifted to the consumer and organizations now find the need to collaborate and engage with customers in order to better attract and retain them. And the way to engage customers and hold their undivided attention is by delivering great experiences every time. Organizations that deliver memorable experiences find that they are able to build a loyal customer base and increase the customer lifetime value.

Managing customer experiences (as against merely doing delivery of goods and services) has now become the competitive differentiator.

Managing Customer Experiences – how does this impact the world of Project Management?

Traditional Project Management practices have focused on planning, execution, monitoring and managing of project deliveries, with the objectives of delivering projects/services on time, within budget and with the desired quality. The knowledge areas in PMBOK® or the stages in PRINCE 2 have focused on functional deliverables and project objectives, right from business case preparation to final delivery.

pme Oct 201710.jpg

So, what is the new ASK?

A few questions emerge:

Is customer experience is the new deliverable? If so:

  • What do Project Managers need to do differently to be able to deliver the required customer experience?
  • What practices and techniques need to be planned and implemented to deliver customer experience?
  • What capabilities do Project Managers and teams need to build to be able to deliver?
  • What leadership commitments need to be obtained?
  • How do we measure and monitor customer experience?
  • What are the new risks?

Mechanics of delivering on Customer Experience

What then is the approach to building and delivering customer experience?

I have adapted the Ideo's Design thinking approach to define a broad approach for use in delivery of customer experience:

  • Conduct user research
  • Understand user journeys
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  • Create customer empathy maps
  • Obtain customer insights
  • Frame the problem/opportunity statement
  • Define the experience outcomes
  • Explore possibilities for enhancing or shaping experiences
  • Prioritize the idea space
  • Establish customer touch points
  • Create prototypes based on selected ideas; integrate experience outcomes at each touch point
  • Validate/ get feedback on the prototype
  • Iterate on the prototypes
  • Build the experience solution
  • Define the measures for experience
  • Deliver the solution
  • Live the solution and measure the experience
  • Build methods to recover from bad experiences
  • Harvest the outcomes, evaluate effectiveness

Key Enablers for enabling a customer experience mindset

Delivering on customer experience is more than just a process. It is a Mindset. And it requires the collective imagination and passion of stakeholders to deliver on this consistently and create multiple “aha” moments that will differentiate your services from the rest in the market.

So, what are the enablers necessary to foster this mindset across the organization?

  1. Customer focused leadership that walks the talk on customer centricity.
  2. Propagation of tools and techniques needed to Know Your Customers (KYC).
  3. Empowering design and delivery teams to make decisions to improve customer experiences.
  4. Collaborative work environment to enable seeing the experience value chain, define roles and handshakes and provide a seamless experience.
  5. Mechanisms to “sense” customer experience and convert them into metrics that matter.

Finally, customer experience management is all about Winning customer attention, Delivering experience that matters to engage attention, Retaining and Leveraging the attention for project and business success.

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