Great customer experience drives preference, improves trust and creates loyalty.
This post has been prompted by the experience I had last week after my company was 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 it was a telco provider. And we had an interesting customer experience. No names. But let’s just say that we got so hot under the collar about it 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 the customer, but also themselves.
The best thing you can do as a service provider is to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. By intimately understanding the customer experience, with all its touch points, you will gain a deep understanding of buyer behaviour, brand engagement and, in the long-term, the holy grail of them all; you’ll be in possession of the secret elixir of how to create brand loyalty.
And if you get it right, your customer is engaged in a productive and easy ongoing conversation, you 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: 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 a frustrated customer into a satisfied one and one that will sing the praises of your brand. After all, word of mouth is still the most important factor in the decision making process.
The chart below (click to enlarge) shows a typical customer journey based on 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 was positive and what was 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 we?
They can’t all be the same can they? Otherwise how would anyone choose one bank over another? Obviously interest rate deals and sales promotions influence decisions, but they aren’t deal makers, in fact they could well be deal breakers.
With the cost of switching banks getting cheaper, improving customer experience is becoming increasingly important. And consumers are becoming more discerning than ever when it comes to deciding where they spend their money.
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 percent 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 you should be fostering.
Brands are like people, and can only improve if they receive feedback. 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?
Kaleb Francis is digital brand strategist at Marque - Brand Partners