Ensure Consistency of Customer Engagement – Every Time!


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Maybe you would not think of Bruce Springsteen (http://bit.ly/2w4sFw9) as the go-to guy for customer experience wisdom, but here is something he allegedly once said: “Sustaining an audience is hard; it demands consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period.” (http://bit.ly/2wRWttp)

Sure Springsteen is an artist, but he is also at the heart of a multi-national business that depends on turnover, profit, customer loyalty and longevity – not so very different to, say, MacDonald’s or Starbucks. Whether you love or hate them, when you visit these global businesses, anywhere in the world, you can at least be sure of a consistent experience – one that has been refined over many years and which invariably meets your expectations. Just like a Springsteen show!

Better the devil you know…

Other things being equal, people like familiarity. Consistency is important because it creates familiarity and that leads to trust, another key component in long-term customer relationship. Assuming the customer deliverable meets expectations, consistency will keep customers coming back – but note that assumption. Customers tend to be quick to anger but slow to forgive (like wives sometimes), and consistency is only celebrated if the product or service at least meet expectations. Nothing disappoints customers more than a service provider back-pedalling out of a misleading brand promise! I am sure you won’t struggle to find plenty of evidence from your own life for this.

So, where do service providers need to focus to deliver consistency in customer experience? I suggest they think about:

Brand promises they make…
Across end-to-end customer journeys…
Generating strong positive emotions…
Through consistent communications!

‘Brand promises’ might feel like marketing jargon, but they are vital for the business. Promises are effectively a contract with the customer which, again, create a sense of trust and commitment – but they must be adhered to, all the way through the customer journey.

Journey consistency is essential too. It means that customers always get what was promised throughout their lifetime with the business, always feeling that they are dealing with the same organisation and that the organisation has a complete and consistent view of them. The more consistent the experience, the more trust is created – while every failure only creates negative emotions (and we know how ready customers are to share negative experiences with their peers).
Finally, communications have to be consistent. Customers should feel like they’re dealing with one organisation, one brand, regardless of the channels through which they interact. Clarity, timeliness and contextual appropriateness of communications are vital.

Consistency demands rigorous and continuous improvement of the processes, systems and guidelines that put in place to serve both the business and the customer. And having established rational, logical and consistent processes and policies, you need a robust monitoring system that will warn of deviation – ideally before the customer does!

Back to the good old Bruce: consistency of thought, purpose and action are key to successful customer engagement and the profits and loyalty which flow from that. And he should know – he’s the Man! What do you think? Join the discussion!

Janne Ohtonen, Ph.D.
Dr Janne Ohtonen, Director of Customer Experience Management, has dedicated his life to making this world a better place to all customers. He fights against bad customer experiences, ensuring that companies serving their customers are not only profitable but also enjoyable to do business with for a long time.


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