This post was prompted by the poor customer experience we had last week after being wooed by a service provider. No it wasn’t a bank. That was the week before. And it wasn’t an energy company. That’s every other day.
But yes, it was a telcomunications provider. We had an interesting customer experience to say the least. No names. But let’s just say that we got so hot under the collar we ended up with second degree burns.
Too often customers suffer from ‘paralysis by analysis’. The sheer weight of data available today is making it increasingly difficult for customers to process information and for service providers to make life easy, not only for customers, but for themselves.
The best thing you can do as a brand owner is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. By intimately understanding your customer's experience at every touch point, you'll learn how they behave, what they value, how they respond to brand messages... and the list goes on. Importantly you'll learn what you need to do to create brand loyalty.
And when you get it right, you'll find it easy to engage customers in productive, easy ongoing conversations, you'll become indispensable and overtures from other providers will be rebuffed.
Making it happen
So what tools do you use to make things easy for your customers? It comes down to looking at all the channels customers use to engage with your brand: e.g. website, phone (CSR, in voice response), in person and social media.
Once you’ve got a handle on this, a plan can be developed to make sure each touch point is designed to turn frustrated customers into delighted loyalists that look for every opportunity to sing the praises of your brand. After all, word of mouth is still the most influential factor in the decision making process.
The chart below shows a typical customer journey (using our experience). It shows the questions they ask, the issues they raise and the road blocks they encounter. And the chart also shows what you can do to create a journey that is responsive, delivers relevant information and provides the customer with complete assurance.
One of the important elements of online support is to monitor what's positive and what's negative for the customer, and to be quick about it. Rob Strickland, president of Strickland Consulting and former CIO of T-Mobile USA, couldn’t have said it better
Customer experiences are like footprints in the sand; as fast as they are made, they are quickly washed away.
Another sector experience
Here’s another perspective on the customer experience. Pop quiz time! Can you name the five biggest banks in New Zealand? All correct, nice one. Bonus point time. What are their respective points of difference? Didn’t do so well there now did you.
They can’t all be the same, can they? Otherwise how does anyone choose one bank over another? Obviously interest rate deals and sales promotions influence decisions, but they aren’t deal makers. In fact at times they can be deal breakers.
With the cost of switching banks getting cheaper, improving the customer experience is becoming increasingly important. Also customers are becoming even more discerning about where and how they spend their money.
And here’s why. When banks focus their resources primarily on sales promotions and deals that offer lower interest rates, they often neglect the ‘customer experience’. They do this at their peril as 55% of us are willing to recommend a brand for outstanding service, over and above the product or the price. So while short-term gains may be attractive, it’s the long-term relationships that should be fostered.
Brands are like people, and can only improve if they receive constructive feedback. Right? So what experiences (good or bad) have you had recently with a brand and how did it make you feel? Would you recommend that brand to your friends or family? Or would you warn them away?