Is This You?

What We Think We Want

We want significant, measurable improvements in our bottom line, without increasing the costs of customer acquisition, production & materials, training, support, and service after the sale. Our market share is being eroded by an influx of new competitors who are disrupting the way we have always operated. We know that we have the best products and services in our industry, but for some reason we are not capitalizing on our leadership in the way that we should. We want to reverse the trend and own our market outright, and in doing so, transform our organization to be more flexible, efficient and adaptable.

What We Think We Know

While we may not be enjoying the success that we should, we believe that we have the skills, talent, expertise and experience to make our products and services better than most of our competitors. We have at least a few great, loyal and engaged customers who want us to continue improving our offerings. We are aware of our competitors, their products and services, their strengths and weaknesses, and have an idea about where they may be headed in the future. We know our business, but we also realize that the great ideas we need to adopt may come from completely unrelated industries and fields. But most of all, we have the courage, intelligence and energy to do what it takes to shift gears, pivot, evolve, grow and change in order to achieve the market leadership position that we desire.

What We’ve Tried

We’ve tried a lot of solutions to get what we want, but many or most of those experiments don’t go the way we thought they would. We have developed new systems in-house with limited success. We’ve spent a lot of money on outside agencies and “expert” consulting firms who have delivered solutions that didn’t resonate with our customers, didn’t solve our real problems, and only served to frustrate us with their overconfidence and under-delivery. We’ve used cutting-edge technologies as well as systems and tactics that have been in use for decades. We’ve even bought some of our upstart competitors and tried to incorporate their innovations into our existing culture. Our success has been limited, and we realize that this may be because we are solving the wrong problems and trying to answer the wrong questions.

Our Obstacles

Because we have been successful doing things the way that we always have done them, we’re a bit hesitant to start making big changes, so we often jump to solutions that are comfortable and easy. Our executive team is not perfectly aligned in their willingness to innovate, and we do not have complete consensus across our multiple business units. We say that we know our customers extremely well, but the fact is that we don’t actually spend much time with them, and so may be a bit out of touch with their current reality. We don’t often question ourselves because we fear that it may show weakness or ignorance, but while we know that we don’t know everything, we’re confident that we can figure anything out if given the chance. We don’t think we have enough time for anything new, and we need a fresh set of eyes from the outside to help us break out of our deep ruts.

What We Don’t Know

We know that we don’t know as much as we need to about how our customers think about buying, using and talking about our products and services. We may not know enough about why they buy from our competitors, or how they use alternatives to achieve their goals. We probably do not have a clear view of how our customers are treated throughout the entire lifecycle of interactions with them and how those inconsistencies or gaps affect their willingness to upgrade, repurchase or refer. We are probably not talking to our customers often enough, or do not adequately use the communication channels we currently have in place. We know how we want our customers to find, specify, evaluate and buy our products, but may not know if this is exactly how they prefer to execute those tasks. To be honest, we also don’t know what we don’t know.

Where We Are Now

Based on what we think we want, our awareness of our internal obstacles, our understanding of what we know and what we don’t know, and the experiences of what we’ve tried, we realize that we need to back up and rethink the core considerations of our customers, their goals, needs, motivations, fears and dreams. We have all of the raw materials – expertise, knowledge, history, energy, facilities, technology and drive – and are willing to invest the time to dig into the underlying foundation of customer experience. We are united in our purpose, confident yet open-minded, courageous, honest with ourselves, receptive, enthusiastic, able to receive criticism without defensiveness, willing to ask the hard questions, humble, excited about trying new things, and completely open to the possibility of significant change. We’re ready to explore deeply.

The way you've always done it...

  This is the percentage of time spent in project phases that many businesses spend trying to achieve progress towards their goals. Usually, their efforts are not customer-centric in any way, but instead are attempts to rebuild or pivot from past failures. Unfortunately, the world of customers is changing rapidly and your competitors may be addressing those changes far more effectively, thus disrupting your market. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. [Rita Mae Brown]  
  • Quickly Assuming the Problem 5% 5%
  • Jumping To A Solution Path 10% 10%
  • Stopping, Shifting, Spinning 20% 20%
  • Rethinking, Redesigning, Redoing 45% 45%
  • Failing, Blaming, Worrying 20% 20%
  • Finding the True Problems 40% 40%
  • Mapping the Challenge Path 15% 15%
  • Crafting the Right Solutions 20% 20%
  • Measuring, Adjusting, Evolving, Celebrating 25% 25%

The way you should consider...

The Spelunk approach is a combination of methodologies with customer-centric design principles at its foundation, and a significant shift in the way time is spent in different phases. We use a variety of tools depending upon each client’s situation, including creative problem solving processes, brainstorming tools, solution systems, and a wide variety of customer research methodologies. The critical skill is knowing when each tool is appropriate and using it to its maximum advantage. The benefit to you is reducing your risk and cost by ensuring that your efforts are aimed at solving the right problem, for the right target audience, in the right manner & context. Trust yourself enough to be courageous. Be courageous enough to trust.

If this is you, Customer Experience Strategy can help.

Customer Experience Strategy can help to solve your tough customer engagement problems through meaningful research; unique lateral thinking & problem-solving techniques; insightful analysis of your business metrics, competitors & markets; and application of our deep experience with the capabilities of today’s technology. CX strategy is “business strategy from the perspective of the user”, and is the output of these techniques. From audits that measure the effectiveness of your current customer touchpoints, to detailed customer personas that better guide your marketing, sales & support efforts, to invaluable customer journey maps that clearly visualize the entire touchpoint landscape, these “deep explorations” can help you see the forest for the trees, then focus effectively on the steps that have the largest impact on your success.

Not only do we perform the techniques necessary to develop the Customer Experience Strategy, but we then help you take it forward into implementation with your design & development teams, whether internal or external. And if you need additional resources for those efforts, we can help you source or build the right teams to get the job done right. CX strategy is the step that is sorely lacking in many businesses’ technology process, and is vital to the success of any digital strategy and development efforts. It is not a substitute or replacement, but an augmentation that fills the gap in traditional methods by looking at the equation from the customer perspective. CX strategy greatly reduces the risk of delivering digital interactions to customers, ensures more rapid and widespread adoption by users, and thus eliminates the costs of redesign, rework, increased support, and other plagues that come with poorly considered design.

Successful Expeditions

“I have had the pleasure of working with Gary on various client engagements and am constantly amazed by his ability to lead and manage group conversation and interviews, extracting vital project information and bringing increased clarity to the client. His understanding of system usability and the ability to communicate that to other team members is invaluable.”
Paul Reinarz

CEO & Co-Founder, Rezora

“Gary is a great resource who consistently delivers on assignments. I have known and worked with Gary for over 10 years in a few different ways and he always outperforms against expectations. From concept to final output, Gary is great at pushing us as clients to think differently and create exceptional work. He has broad knowledge and experience of the web in general, great ideas for bringing concepts to life, and a strong point of view on how to optimize the customer experience online.”
John Tedstrom

Managing Director, Insight & Strategy, Publicis Hawkeye

“Gary is an expert problem solver who breaks complex requests into manageable pieces, identifying the intent of the message and translating that into meaningful user experiences and design decisions. He is also a strong advocate for clearly understanding who our intended customer early on, and tailoring our designs and experiences for that customer, taking into account how they will interact with our products on the various devices on which they’re published. I highly recommend Gary for his knowledge, experience and clarity of thought.”
Matthew Huard

Technical Director, Warner Bros. Games San Francisco

Interested in seeing how far Customer Experience Strategy might take you?