Customer Experience : Are there gaps in your customer journey?

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Great customer experience improves customer loyalty, customer referrals, the desire to purchase again and even stock price.

So how can you achieve all these benefits? How can you succeed in the age of the customer?

You have to think about the interactions that you are having with your customer as a complete end-end journey.

I know a lot of readers are from many different industries. Some of you might call your customers shoppers, passengers, patients or members. According to Forrester, no matter the name or industry, customers all go through the same archetype of journey. It starts as they discover that your company has products and services that might meet their needs. They evaluate those products and services against those of your competitors. Hopefully, they then buy your products and services.

Then your customer reaches a step in the journey that Forrester calls Access, and this is the step that is largely overlooked in a lot of companies. It includes everything that happens from the time that a customer buys your products and services until they start using that product or service. If you are a product company you could think of this as the unboxing experience. If you are in airlines you could think about all interactions that happen as customers download their boarding pass, make their way to the airport, pass through TSA and travel through the airport terminal.

It is all of the interactions that happen before your customers get their hands on your product and uses it. If they have trouble they are going to reach out for support and this is where your customer reaches a critical juncture. This is where your customers decides if they will reengage with your organization or not. We tend to think about this at the end of the customer journey, but in reality it can happen at any point along the way.

Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into your customer’s decision to reengage, but their customer experience has the most weight. We often see organizations struggling with how to deal with this journey. If you think about the interactions that happen at the beginning of the process, they are typically managed by your marketing department. Then they throw the customer to another part of organization, maybe a sales or e-commerce group, maybe a physical retail channel, for the buying phase. The customer moves on to the use phase and we typically see product or service development departments handling this part of the journey. Support is often handled by operations or perhaps an outsourced organization. No one is paying attention to what happens when customers leave.

So here are the challenges we see. We see each part of the organization working to bolster those interactions that they personally feel responsible for within their department. It makes sense for people to focus on what they are responsible for, but the problem is that this means no one is looking out for the entire end-to-end journey and there end up being gaps in the process. Your customers have to make wild leaps as they go from working with one part of the organization to the next and oftentimes it is going to result in a pretty painful fall. It isn’t painful for only your customers, but for your business as well. You must unify the experience for your customers. You need to make sure that transitions are seamless as they move from channel to channel. You need to make sure that your brand is infused appropriately at each step along the way.

This article was adapted from the webinar, No More Lip Service: Customer Experience in the Age of the Customer.

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