A customer's journey provides the roadmap for the experience.
-Barbara A. Scott
As a provider of a service or a supplier of a product, the journey you bring your customers on, and the stories that you tell along that journey are key to the customer experience. As you examine opportunities to improve your customer's experience, consider their journey.
1. Value - The customer's ROI
Customers only understand the unique value of your offering when you are able to articulate the value through either words or images. Your marketing and education process should cause the customer to have an expectation of the experience that is reasonable for the time factor (how long it lasts, how long it takes, etc.) and the cost of the investment. This is basically the customer's ROI. This is true whether the customer is an individual or business.
Here is an example:
At a carnival you pay 2.00 for a ticket to ride the Tilt-O-Whirl or other similar 'thrill ride' - you know from the marketing (which declare "the longest rides in the business"), your own experience or through the experience of others (word of mouth) what a great ride this is. The ride looks just like the pictures, the cost is exactly the price you expected to pay but when you are finished with the ride you feel like you got ripped off. Why? Because in this imaginary scenario the employee of the carnival was stopping the ride short of the advertised 'extended' ride time to accommodate those who were queuing up more quickly. As a result you, the customer, did not feel that you had received the value for your dollar.
This is one of those instances where one employee's deviation from process created an unsavory experience for the customer. While the employee may have thought it was a good idea to alleviate "the suffering" for the waiting customers, in this instance, because the rides were advertised as the longest in the business, making them shorter changed the experience for the customer.
The moral to the story is this: Make sure your marketing and messaging tell the story of how you are different, then deliver. Don't let deviations from process be the reason for a less than expected customer experience.
2. Quality - Consistency is key
Quality is not a one-time event. It is a continuous and ongoing process with each hour of service and each product delivered.
Consistency is key to quality. Therefore, it's important for businesses to implement methods of measuring the consistency in the quality of the services performed and the products delivered. This allows you not only to improve the experience the customer has on their service journey but also tocontrol the outcomes.
The customer who rides the ride on the early shift experiences the same ride when they return to ride again on the late shift, developing a track record of trust with the customer.
Quality and consistency breed trust, trust breeds loyalty and loyalty breeds success for your business.
3. VIP Engagement
Finally, provide superior customer service. Whether they only ride one ride or have a season pass, make every customer feel like a VIP. When customers feel valued, the value of the experience increases exponentially as does the price the customer is willing to pay for the service and products.
Case in point: Nordstrom. I have a friend who frequents Nordstrom like its her job. Why? Because she loves the service that she gets when she goes to make a purchase. Particularly shoes. The staff at the store have been trained to take care of the customers as if they truly were guests and do whatever they can do to make the experience more enjoyable.
So every week, sometimes multiple times per week, she makes the drive, braves the traffic, scours the parking lot for a space and makes a trip to her favorite store for her VIP treatment. Most of the items that she purchases could be bought online or elsewhere and perhaps for a lower price, but the experience that she has in the store, to her, is worth the added hassle and expense.
It is true that most organizations are not staffed to deliver the seemingly one-on-one service that Nordstrom gives to their customers. Still, there are other ways to make the customer realize how important they are to you and your business.
Use the customer journey.
In today's digital media and content marketing based world, the fans and followers you have on your social platforms are sometimes your best pool of candidates for market research and voice of the customer assessments. Don't always market. Educate and engage. Ask your prospects and customers what they want and what makes them feel like a VIP when engaging you and your business and do more of that!
The journey of the customer begins with a single step. Illuminate their path.
If you need an objective assessment of your customer's journey and recommendations on how to implement the changes necessary to get the results you desire, contact me.