What’s the one thing you can master that will win you more happy customers? Identify the things that customers want or need to get done, notice the context they’re typically in, and design an experience that will make it enjoyable for them to get those things done. We call these Customer Scenarios.
Most customer-centric executives have an innate ability to identify customer-critical scenarios. For example, many retailers design streamlined experiences for the “grab and go” customers. “I just ran out of something and I need it fast.” Staples rearranged its stores to put the printer supplies right at the front so that people who just ran out of ink or toner can run in and get what they need. They worked with manufacturers to ensure that you can quickly find the supplies you need for your particular printer. The paper is right next to the ink and toner. Staples also streamlined the rebate process to make it easy for customers to get a good deal. Staples’ “That was Easy” branding is all about making it easy for customers to get things done.
There are entire industries designed to support particular customer scenarios, like planning and taking a trip (travel agencies and aggregators), investing for retirement (brokerage and mutual funds), and launching a new product (PR firms).
We’ve been using customer scenarios in our consulting practice for over 20 years. We’ve been teaching others how to engage with customers to co-design them for almost as long. Yet we often assume that people know what we mean by customer scenarios and why they’re an important basic tool for any customer-centric executive.
Customer scenarios are more than “personas.” They include the notion of a persona—a particular kind of person who is in a particular context. But they also provide a clear understanding of what these customers need, what matters to them, what they want to accomplish, and how they measure success. They are also different from a “customer journey,” which typically focuses on every interaction point a customer has with your firm.
Customer scenarios describe the activities a particular group of people in a particular context ideally want to do to get things done. Every business or organization should know what their customers’ most critical scenarios are.
We’ve learned that there are three different types of scenarios:
• Customer/product lifecycle scenarios
• Event-triggered scenarios
• Outcome-based scenarios
You’ll discover that there are customer scenarios your business supports really well, and others that you’re probably clueless about. Identifying and streamlining customer scenarios should be a core competency for anyone on your team.
Streamline Customers’ Critical Scenarios
The Key to Making It Enjoyable for Customers to Get Things Done
By Ronni T. Marshak, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, February 11, 2010