Download a one-page summary of this post, showing the charts in landscape format.
Great customer experience depends on a number of crucial variables: having products that foster emotional connection through positive interaction; having marketing, sales, and other support functions for purchasing the products be as effortless and useful as possible; and by ensuring that word-of-mouth communications aren’t held with too tight of a grip, i.e. left free to flourish on existing online and real-world communities.
Truly great companies understand how to “pulse” their experiences, so their customers experience above-average products, services, and marketing experiences across the board, punctuated by frequent bursts of high-quality brand interaction that help customers to overlook any hiccups in the relationship. They also understand that there is an ideal method to how they operate their businesses, and flex their control over various channels to make sure that any potential failures are immediately countered by exceptional customer contact.
Great Customer Experience: The Ideal Pulse
The following illustration shows a potential customer interaction over two months with a chain of clothing stores. The numbers below each customer touch correlate to metrics that can be measured regarding customer satisfaction through online, in-store, email, and word-of-mouth communications:
The value of planning the best possible experience provides the strategic advantage of fostering long term repeat business instead of forcing marketers to always seek quick wins.
For each experence that your audience has with your products or services, you have an opportunity to further cement customer loyalty and increase the chance of a referral or a repeat sale. A fumble like the one shown above, handled with grace, can make a major impact on the lifetime value of your customer.
And seeing that single failure in the context of the above storyline highlights how rare it is to have uninterrupted quality of service with graceful recovery -- unless you're shopping at the highest-end retail establishments.
Common Customer Service: The Unsteady Pulse
Can you remember the last time you received an apology in the mail for a company mistake? (I got one last year, but it was only because someone stole a laptop with 4 million customer names, including mine...)
Customers take note of the consistency of a company’s actions, both consciously and subconsciously -- sometimes within microseconds of each interaction. If they feel that the company is not in control of their own actions in more than one channel, they’re more likely to find another company that satisfies their needs in a more stable manner. Things end up like this:
Many companies falter in providing consistent customer experiences because their internal policies and bureaucracy inform the structure of a customer’s experience. Internal divisions built around maintaining channels, instead of fostering a blending of customer knowledge through all channels, can have a major toll on marketing quality. It takes extraordinary effort and a truly holistic attitude to mold all company behaviors and activities around customer desire.
We've all felt the instability inherent in our interactions with a company that has poor customer experience. What tools can we develop, as both creative thinkers and business strategists, to defibrillate the pulse of corporate brands?