Isabelle Perreault: I just registered my twins for their first day of school which also meant their first ride on a school bus. I vividly remember the experience with my eldest and the helpless feeling of leaving her in the hands of a complete stranger. The first contact I had with the bus line was online when I registered our pickup location. It was a clunky process at best. My anxiety grew when I spoke with an impatient administrator on the phone who was less than enthusiastic about my rapid fire questions. However, I was impressed to learn I could register for text message alerts about bus cancellations. And finally, on that first day of school, I met the bus driver, who with a warm smile and a wave encouraged me to release the death grip I had on my daughter’s hand, so on the bus she went.
In thinking back to that experience, I realize how every interaction with the bus line (whether in person, online or mobile) either added to my comfort level or made me less trusting. In almost all situations now, the first of these touch points tends to be through a digital channel. For any business competing with thousands of competitors only a click away, each interaction becomes important because together these experiences define their brand.
A recent study with US and UK consumers, conducted by Altimeter and Genesys, found that 99% would switch brands after a negative experience. 84% would share a negative customer service experience with others – 74% of them on social media or other online community where they become public, searchable and permanent. The task of planning and managing customer experience across multiple channels may be tough but the risk of not doing it is significant.
Creating a better experience begins with a thorough understanding of your customers and how they currently interact with your organization and the channels they prefer. A useful exercise is to map out existing touchpoints against the typical customer lifecycle:
For example, social media often plays a big role when consumers are exploring a new need and looking for advice from peers and again, post-sale, when they engage with your brand. Your website will be the go-to place when they’ve narrowed down their search and are actively exploring your organization. These days this will likely be combined with mobile as they search for options, compare prices and finally purchase.
The objective is to manage this journey cohesively so customers see a single brand. Organizations that take proactive steps to manage and shape the customer journey, rather than react to it, build loyalty and trust, create brand advocates and increase conversion rates.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with an NHL team for a number of years. In the sports world you are reminded every day that your brand is co-created with your fans. Whether you are a business selling products or services, or an association building membership and collecting dues, it’s essential to be clear on how each touch point in the customer lifecycle contributes to turning customers into raving fans. Otherwise, there’s always another bus for them to catch that’s just a click away!