I was in a meeting this week and discussion around mapping the customer journey occurred. The discussion was regarding the steps needed to implement a new customer facing solution. Happily, everyone agreed that the organization’s customer journeys by customer profiles were a needed input when implementing a customer facing solution. “Great!” I thought to myself, “Customer understanding is starting to be baked into this organization’s thinking.”
I listened and waited for the discussion to move to the next step of designing the implementation, which it quickly did once it was concluded that taking existing journey maps and reviewing them with the team for updates was all that was needed.
As sure as the sun rises you will have a day when your organization did not provide an excellent customer experience. Customer experiences are delivered by people executing on processes supported by technology. Those three factors all fail at some point. People make mistakes, processes can not cover every scenario and technology…well as seamless as it continues to strive to be, there is still down time. Acceptance of these facts means you need to have a recovery system in place for when the failures happen.
What makes for a good recovery system?
A good system starts with the acknowledgment that organizations are made of people, and that people are not perfect. Therefore, mistakes will happen. How an organization deals with a mistake is often more important than the mistake itself.
As I look at the retail and service landscape, I see organizations failing to meet customer expectations. The reasons are many: the customer can now educate themselves better than what most in-store representatives can provide. A retail store is limited by the brands they offer versus the brand that a customer may want. The store itself is inconvenient; you have to travel to a location on your own time, often off route. Layer on top of this average customer service at best and it is easy to understand why customers are trying to go direct to brand or heading to e-commerce in ever increasing numbers. E-commerce as a channel for service is creating an issue in and of itself for brands. While booking services online is a convenience for the customer, fierce cost comparisons are driving prices down and customer service training and staffing tend to get cut to remain price competitive.
There is more focus on customer experience now than ever before. Interestingly enough, when you read why brands are focusing on the customer experience the reasons given are more excuses or accusations. What we're not seeing are brands aspiring to have a great customer experience because that's what best for their business. Typical reasons given include the following:
Imagine a world in which your customers are so excited after shopping at your organization that they rush out to tell their friends and family. If this happened with every one of your customers you wouldn’t need to spend a dollar on advertising because all your advertising would be done for you. (Well, this is a little bit of an exaggeration but you get the point).
Sales would sky rocket; earnings would double; staff, stakeholders and obviously customers would all be happier. This is not a fantasy world, this can be achieved by managing a rating by customers from one simple question “ How likely are you to recommend?” It is called the Net Promoter Score.
The idea of what is Customer Service means different things to different people. In order to create a consistent, outstanding customer experience we all need to take responsibility for our actions and involvement with the customer (so it is never not our job); always make it personal, and by that I mean it make your personal mission to be better in all aspects.
I believe business is increasingly tilting toward a winner takes all culture: in other words WITFM (What’s in it for me?). This is not about the demands shareholders are putting towards operations for results (although this is part of the problem). It boils down to the individual actions and attitudes of our teams and our customers on the retail floor.
As I look at the retail landscape I see retail failing to meet customer expectations. The reasons are many: the customer can now educate themselves better than most in store representatives. The retail store is limited by the brands they offer versus the brand that a customer may want. The store in of itself is inconvenient, you have to travel to a location on your own time often off route. Layer on top of this average customer service at best it is easy to understand why customers are trying to go direct to brand or heading to e-commerce in ever increasing numbers.
We have been reviewing our marketing costs with a great deal of scrutiny. The litmus test is simple: can we track results? If not, we need to change the medium, or the offer, or ditch the channel entirely. More on this in another blog.
Good companies often win awards but what about their customers? Shouldn’t they be recognized? Are they not part of the reason for the award?At Flaman Group of Companies this year we have won two awards: