Kodwo Manuel’s thoughts …Can managing customer experience significantly transform your business (3)

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Does it really matter?

Imagine a situation where you have spent a fortune manufacturing a product, does it not make sense to invest in an experience that complements the investment? It only takes a fraction of that investment to transform the way customers perceive your brand. An additional process in the mix is your journey map.

Journey Mapping

The customer journey map is a structured way to understand and capture your customer’s wants, needs and expectations at each stage of their experience with your company. Then to capture the individual interactions from the customer viewpoint from initial awareness to leave and perhaps return (Pennington:2015)’. The customer journey map (CJM) is important because it enables the company to visualize how customers interact with an organisation across multiple channels and touch points at each stage of the customer lifecycle (or part of it). It   provides a factual basis for change, a map of the interactions that take place during the customer journey and the emotions created at each touch point.

A simple journey will be the visit to a restaurant where a backbone lifecycle depicts 4 stages namely, plan the meal, arrive at the restaurant, dine, pay and leave. Each of the 4 stages will involve several points of interaction in a typical customer journey map (CJM). To plan dinner you may search the internet or talk to friends or call the restaurant either optionally or inclusively. Following that you arrive at the restaurant, park your car and enter the restaurant or you may ride in by an Uber or public transport. You then order your food and dine, then ask for the bill, pay and leave. By creating a basic CJM you can walk through the whole journey by asking a member of your team to walk through the actual experience of this journey.

Using this method you can model individual experiences and knowledge and complement this with other customer data including complaints and service level customer feedback. By doing this you create opportunities for your employees to engage with customers more constructively, having the awareness of the business value of customer empathy within your team. Your goal is to alter the culture of the company by aligning your thinking with that of the customer. The outcome of this process is the development of an Employee Journey Map (EJM), to help create and influence a culture where every one-on-one meeting in the company has a customer component. This underscores the ‘outside-in’ planning of your customer journey in practical steps!

Emotions

There are significant numbers behind the unhappy customer, therefore,  we must pay a great deal of attention to actions that will minimise the certainty of this happening. According to research, an upset customer will tell 10-20 other people. These will tell others, thus the total number of people affected by one poor experience is equal to numbers in the region of 50 to 100, just think of the impact when you scale this up. There are immense opportunities you can gain from staying close to your customers.

First, positive word of mouth will get and keep customers. Second, it will save you the cost of prospecting for new customers. What better way to increase your sales than benefitting from a horde of referrals! Third, through friendly recommendations most people will come to you because they trust the judgment of the associate or friend who introduced you to the product or service, plus their search for a preferred brand is made a lot easier, a strategy used frequently by Network marketers. Fourth, you can keep your customers close by sending them regular emails, informative blogs or employ other electronic communication methods including social media platforms to engage emotionally.

My bank sends me the occasional email and even take the trouble to congratulate me on my birthday not forgetting other seasons such as Christmas, Easter and others. The name of the game is Service Intimacy, develop a strong awareness – and alignment with – your customers’ needs and values; let them see that you care. It’s about a two-way (symbiotic) connection with them, their perception is of immense value to your business and ultimately translates into tangible results. Note that your customers encounter two personalities. The person who serves them and the organisation. The personality of the organisation is called its culture. That encounter with the customer can be seen as ‘the moment of truth’ the interaction between the seller and the buyer can potentially make or unmake the deal. Crucially, the way managers and leaders interact with their subordinates and associates (internal customers) will impact on the way employees behave toward (external) customers. Peter Drucker says it all, ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’! Manage your culture well and it will enhance your business performance, the opposite will undermine your efforts at value creation. Your number one task regardless of your job title, will always be to attract, satisfy and preserve loyal customers.

 

Customer Experience Management (CEM).

There is tangible business value in managing the customer experience effectively. When Richard Branson started his airline business, Virgin, he was seen travelling on board his flights sitting with passengers and having regular conversations with them to understand their perception of a great airline in-cabin service. He even joined the cabin crew to serve meals on-board. This gesture enabled him to quickly understand what would make his airline a preferred choice, his customers were blown away by his openness and willingness to learn from their experiences. An excellent customer experience strategy will boost revenue with incremental sales from existing customers and new sales from word of mouth, improve customer loyalty (and create advocates) through valued and memorable customer interactions, lower costs by reducing ‘customer churn’. My local mechanic, Diggy understands this principle, over the years we have built a special relationship thus my preference is always to go to him anytime I need preventive servicing or repairs to be done on my vehicle. We generally develop these relationships because of the emotional attachment to the service level and the attention we receive. Your aim therefore is to transform from being ‘customer-centric’ to becoming ‘customer intelligent’.

 

The Writer is the Managing Consultant at Capability Trust Limited a People and Learning Organisation. He can be reached on 059 175 7205[email protected]

 

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