3 Areas of Customer Experience Where Human Expertise Is Absolutely Vital

Customer experience (CX) measurement has become a priority for most large organizations. Systematically gathering and analyzing data from online surveys and other sources such as product reviews, customer complaints, etc., is viewed as an imperative. And for good reason.  21st century business is won and lost based on who can deliver the best customer experience.

However, as we become more comfortable and rely more heavily on intelligent systems to collect and interpret data for us, there is still an opportunity for a human element to play an important role in customer experience programs.  

This is a belief I’m incredibly passionate about. My name is Len Ferman and I am a senior consultant at InMoment. In 2019, I published a college textbook, “Business Creativity and Innovation: Perspectives and Best Practices”, which is now being used at several universities including in my classes as an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida. In my role at InMoment, I work with brands to generate and evaluate ideas to attract new customers, delight existing customers and identify strategic initiatives.

In this article, I’ll discuss three areas in which human expertise can make a valuable contribution. Let’s dive in!

3 Areas Where Human Expertise Makes a Valuable Contribution to Customer Experience

  • Qualitative Research
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Ideation to Improve the Customer Experience

Qualitative Research

In 2021, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled, “Why Companies Shouldn’t Give Up on Focus Groups.” The premise was that in this era in which big data is running the show, taking the time to listen to live customers can still be hugely beneficial.

Qualitative research can take on many forms including live or online focus groups, in person interviews or phone interviews. The distinguishing feature of qualitative research is that a trained interviewer is interacting live with an engaged respondent. 

As a qualitative researcher with 30 years of experience, I consistently find that there is no substitute for gaining a complete understanding of a customer’s story than by talking to customers live, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or via video conference.    

The value that qualitative research brings to a customer experience program is in being able to definitively probe with customers about why they respond and behave the way they do. Only in live, qualitative research can you fully leverage the “5 Why’s” technique to drill down to the root cause of a customer’s behavior.

The “5 Why’s” technique was developed by Sakachi Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota Industries in Japan. The technique is a simple but powerful method of questioning. For any problem that you hear the customer describe, you ask, “why?” And then when you have the answer, you ask, “why?” again.  The idea is that by asking “why?” five times you are likely to drill down to the root cause of a problem. This method can only be effectively deployed in live, qualitative research.

Customer Journey Mapping

Understanding the experience a customer has, from their perspective, across their end-to-end journey with your company, products, services or processes is what customer journey mapping is all about. Customer journey maps can be a simple yet powerful tool to enable your employees to empathize with and fully understand the customer experience.

The best customer journey maps are produced when there is a human element involved in the core data collection and final map development.  

Qualitative research is necessary for the foundation of a customer journey map since it is necessary to hear customers describe their journey. And the creative design of the final map to adequately portray and communicate a visual depiction of the customer journey remains a uniquely human endeavor.

Well developed customer journey maps have multiple benefits for a customer experience program including stronger customer experience survey design and a common understanding of the customer journey among all employees. One particular benefit is the ability of customer journey mapping to help identify the key moments of truth a customer has in the journey.

Ideation to Improve the Customer Experience

Ideation to generate and evaluate ideas to improve the customer experience is a process that every organization can benefit from. Experienced ideation facilitators can leverage processes that guide a team through creative exercises. 

These creative exercises use data generated in customer experience programs as a starting point. And they also tap into the expertise of your own employees to generate ideas that leverage the core competencies of the company. A second set of evaluative exercises provides the team with the discipline to narrow down and select the optimal ideas for development.

Leveraging Human Expertise

These three areas, which all require human expertise, can enhance your overall customer experience program and provide you with an advantage over your competition.

At InMoment, our consultants are available to perform these three types of human-led services. Contact your client success director to inquire about how you can engage with InMoment for qualitative research, customer journey mapping, or ideation to improve the customer experience.

About Author

Len Ferman Senior Consultant at InMoment

Len specializes in qualitative research, customer journey mapping and ideation to improve the customer experience (CX). 

Prior to joining InMoment, Len spent 25 years with Fortune 100 companies managing customer experience research and innovation.  Len held senior positions at AT&T, Barnett Bank and Bank of America where he introduced many new products, led the front end of innovation and served as head of ideation.  

Len holds two master’s degrees from Duke University (M.B.A. in Marketing and a Master’s in Economics).  

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