Customers are unhappy when there is a mismatch of expectations. You will often hear “I expected more from this brand” or “I expected better from your organisation”. How are these expectations set? Marketing messages, sales pitches, historical usage – all create a certain expectation. If consumption or service reality does not meet these expectations the customer experience falls flat. In today’s omnichannel world there is the added complication of a consistent CX across multiple channels.
The customer’s first interaction with the brand is just the beginning of a journey of a million touchpoints. And their satisfaction (or lack thereof) is rarely the result of a single bad transaction, but the cumulative experience of many such transactions. In a silo environment it is possible for each touchpoint or transaction to be ‘successful’ from the company standpoint and yet leave a customer unhappy as the overall experience is not seamless or easy.
CX cannot be a stand-alone function or department but has to be a top-level mandate across the customer’s entire journey with the brand and should be integrated across the organisation. The experience is created right from the first sales or marketing touchpoint through purchase, consumption, service and maintenance. Organisations should guide the entire customer journey as a holistic process that is consistent across touchpoints, departments and functions.
Given today’s real-time customer who may complete the discovery, purchase, consumption and purchase process in less than a minute, it is important that all parts of the organisation are in sync too. Each touchpoint with the customer should be a fully informed one, and one that is aligned with the expectations set by the other stakeholders. There are often multiple customer journeys and sub-journeys through the organisation, and each needs to be optimised.
What does this mean for some of the key functions?
Marketing: View the customer journey holistically and take ownership for guiding them through each stage of the cycle, from acquisition to advocacy. Use data to personalise interactions and increase loyalty through timely outreach. Create informed, seamless, personalised journeys across all channels.
Sales: Customer insights can improve coverage and targeting. Always-on data allows for more predictability and better timing of touch-points. Front-line staff get a holistic view of past history, current requirements and organisation’s ability to deliver them. Delivery capability can be improved by more accurate forecasting that avoids supply chain surprises.
Customer Service: Really get to know your customers with an integrated view of interactions across channels including social media so that you can resolve issues on first contact. Knowledge management that builds on learning across the organisation can ensure lower cost and time to closure of service requests. Use insights and knowledge to enable self-service, empowering the customer.
A fragmented approach to CX creates friction amongst the many stakeholders and makes it difficult for customers to engage with the brand. This friction in turn reduces advocacy, repeat business, preference visibility and ultimately, profits. It is imperative that the always-on customer receives real-time, seamless, integrated guidance through the customer journey.