“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
– Mahatma Gandhi.
The importance of a customer’s journey with an organization cannot be emphasized enough. A customer is the raison d’etre of any business and his well-being is directly proportional to its success.
In an effort to drive home this point here is a list of a few steps that will help design and deliver exceptional customer journeys:
1. Define the customer’s service requirement
Decide what kind of an interface, a customer requires, based on the product / service offering. Do you need to man the interface or is it better managed electronically. Using SMS to sell Ice Cream with an SMS short code may not be prudent but SMS is highly efficient in managing service requirements for postpaid mobile services.
2. Rationalize the touch points
People like options, whether it be in the products and services they buy or the ways in which they can reach out to you when they buy your goods or services. However, one should not get carried away by offering 15 different channels / touch points of reaching out as this might lead to dilution in managing the quality of interaction. Select a few of the most popular options and a couple that are technology driven. This will not only help save costs but will also ensure that customers don’t get confused with more options than they can need.
3. Seamless integration across the journey
A customer will have multiple interactions with any brand over a period of time and will always expect (even at a subconscious level) that his or her prior interaction will be remembered and respected whilst dealing with them again. So when a customer walks into a bank to open an account, he expects that the person helping him with account opening will convey any special requests to the relationship manager who will take over the customer once the account opening formalities have been completed. Similarly, if the customer now wants to avail of a loan, the relationship manager should explain to the loan officer about the customer’s particular requirements rather than the customers having to repeat his requirements at every stage. This seamlessness is efficiently managed by smart use of technology.
4. Respect the senses
Many retail success stories are aided by clever tricks that enhance the senses and work at a sub conscious level. Some airlines have used distinct scents across all their offices and carriers to create uniformity and instant correlation. Others use sound to control the tempo and influence behavior. The use of colour in store décor, packaging and brand material has been known for the time known to help with reinforcing the brand and developing trust with the customer.
5. Devil lies in the details
How often have you heard of customers getting annoyed with a brand for the most seemingly ‘insignificant’ reasons? The truth is, what seems insignificant to you might hold a place of great importance in the customers mind. Therefore true customer delight is achieved when the minor conveniences and requests of customers are given priority. Delivery on the broader promise has become pretty much hygiene and faulting on that may be sacrilege but if you want to truly delight you customer, remember, “the devil is in the details”.
6. Innovate or perish
Innovation is the cornerstone of any business. Whether you are a simple trader or a research driven pharmaceutical giant… innovation permeates in every aspect of business, be it products, processes or customer interaction. If an organization stops to innovate it stops breathing and it is only a matter of time before getting suffocated. The culture of innovation should be ingrained across the organization and the results of this innovation will be amply evident on the face of your customer.
7. Customer feedback is sacred
As the popular adage goes “Change is the only constant in life” and to ensure that the change is happening in the correct direction you must include your customer as a key stakeholder in your business. Very often business make the mistake of disregarding customer feedback in the garb of understanding more than the customer. However this can be a fatal error as the customer is fickle and if he sees others responding to his needs better than you he will not hesitate to change loyalties.
All of these steps to delight customers across touch points in their journey will lead to happy customers. It is the time to turn happy customers into brand advocates. Word of mouth is one of the most under-utilized and under estimated influencers. Surprisingly, research shows it is also one of the most effective tools. Satisfied customers provide free word of mouth publicity that brings a lot of credibility due to it being a third party endorsement. Identifying such customers and indulging them with select experiences with the brand will go a long way in getting these loyalists to become strong brand advocates. It is important to harness and channel the power of such customers as it will result in not only enhancing the customer base but will also help acquire customers that display higher stickiness than the average customer.