It’s unlikely to feature in a list of the sexiest topics for executives, but consistency in the customer journey is becoming increasingly important to companies seeking to outperform their rivals.
Recent research by McKinsey found correlations between top performing companies and high quality customer service. In the banking sector for example, customers trusted banks that were in the top quartile of delivering consistent customer journeys 30 percent more than banks in the bottom quartile.
That trust can be monetised too. McKinsey found that maximising satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent.
However, it’s not down to the customer service team or a team leader responsible for customer service, consistency in the customer journey requires strong backing from the senior team.
Logically, customers are interacting with a brand on many more separate occasions than they used to. Starting with pre-sale marketing and lead generation activity, there are now more ways to pay for a good or service, a wide range of customer service channels (think social media) and employees are more social – regardless of whether you think that is positive or negative. When a brand has many touchpoints, it’s vital to have a joined up approach.
It also means they view all these many interactions as a cumulative customer journey, rather than purely a set of individual interactions. Performing well in each interaction, but performing with an inconsistent approach can confuse satisfied customers.
According to McKinsey, positive customer experience emotions – principally trust – were the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty in the industries surveyed. We’ve previously talked about a lack of loyalty in many industries which caused a race to the bottom for price and a series of ‘loyalty’ programmes, so knowing that providing a good service drives loyalty makes the business case for investing in the customer experience easier.
Customers view brands in the same way they do any other presence in their life. Trust and investment in time and energy in a relationship is driven by a combination of promises made and promises kept.
Communication to customers therefore needs to highlight delivery as well as features and achievements. This reinforces operational plus-points and consolidates customers’ opinion of the brand as a strong performer.
Three steps to customer journey excellence
- Take a journey-based approach. Realigning the company to focus on the overall journey is more likely to embed consistency. This might require the creation of a team specifically to consider and refine the customer journey among many different individual touchpoints, but it’s imperative for a business that’s looking to increase revenue and reduce costs.
- Fix things where negative experiences are common. Playing a percentages game, businesses should look at the areas that come into contact with customers the most and fix these. Negative experiences can cause significant long-term damage and require many positive experiences to repair the damage, so companies should focus on fixing what’s broken ahead of making something good into something excellent.
- Do it now, because patience is getting thinner with customers in 2014 and they have less time for variability in delivery. Making additional investments to improve the customer experience without tightening the consistency of experience is just throwing good money after bad.