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Where I learned about the importance of customer journeys

DannyEighteen years ago, my son Danny taught me everything I needed to know about customer journeys.

At just three years old, Danny wasn’t a verbose child.  So when he talked, we paid special attention.  One night when we put him to bed, he put his hands over his crotch and simply said, “Hurts.”

If you’ve ever had a 3-year-old, you can understand how we felt. We called the nurse line, who instructed us to take him to the emergency room right away. Panicked, we grabbed the diaper bag and headed to the nearest hospital that took our insurance.

A Regrettable Journey

As we got there, they instructed us to fill out the paperwork, then rushed us back to another waiting room. But this one was dark and abandoned – just one light in the corner. The staff person asked us to wait there until they could find a doctor. So we sat down, and I held Danny in my arms, whimpering. And we proceeded to wait.

After a half-hour, I was frustrated beyond belief. Anxious, scared. So I went to find some help. Eventually, I was told to go back, as they were still looking for a doctor. So I went back, and we continued to wait. Read more

End Your Customer’s Experience on a High Note

HEX imageIn his terrific book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Brian Solis argues persuasively for ending your customer’s journey on a high note. Excellent advice, but not often followed. The importance of starting strong is well-known—websites begin with a striking visual, stores focus on greeting customers as they come in. But what about the ending?

Daniel Kahneman’s work (published in Thinking, Fast and Slow) reinforces the importance of ending on a high note. He explains that the experiencing mind is different from the remembering mind. Two parts of an experience have a disproportionate impact on how we remember it. First, the peak high (or low!) is remembered clearly. But second, the way the experience ends sticks with us with the same clarity. Both the high and ending points of the experience have a disproportionate impact on our memory – and thus, our loyalty. Read more

“If you need a video to explain the process, fix the process!” – Lessons from a journey mapping workshop

I had the opportunity to conduct journey mapping with a state agency working to transform the employer’s unemployment experience. The group followed our first rule of journey mapping – always make sure the customer is included in the process – by conducting multiple levels of research, including in-depth interviews with employers who were new to the process and usability interviews.

Streamlining Your Process

Next they engaged us to map out the existing employer’s journeys. I knew they were the right type of people for this work when I overheard one say, “If you need a video to explain the process, fix the process!”

Unfortunately, that’s not always the approach.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve run across a broken process, and the response is, “We need to train our customers.”

The reality is, our customers are already trained.  They’re trained by Amazon to have a streamlined process.  They’re trained by Apple to expect simplicity. And, if we’re not careful, they can be trained by your competition to expect something better.

The irony is, this came from a state agency with no competition. But they understand that while loyalty may seem irrelevant, it really isn’t. Being loyal in this context doesn’t mean using their services more – nobody wants to use unemployment insurance any more than they need to. No, in this context, loyalty means being less costly to serve. It means less calls, and less irritation when those calls happen.

That’s what journey mapping is all about – making customer-focused change to improve the process for everybody. And, if the state gets that, then there’s hope for the rest of us, too!

How To Build Stronger Customer Relationships & Why It Matters

3M1WKORDOL-1Guest post by Brooke Cade.

The way we communicate with each other has changed. Digital marketing and social media has transformed our world, the way we gather information and how we engage with each other. Because of this, businesses have had to reevaluate the way they communicate and market to their customers.

Millennials are a huge driving force behind this shift. Unlike the generation before them, millennials are more engaged with brands and are more likely to post product reviews, share links about products, and follow brands on Twitter (and other social platforms). Compared to the generation before them, this is a 150% to 250% increase in brand engagement.

Because of the changes we’re seeing in how brands do business, now is the time—if you’re not doing it already—to stand out from your competitors and find ways to connect and build strong relationships with your customers. Millennials are looking for brands that deliver authentic and high quality experiences to them each time they engage.

So, where do brands even begin? Read more

Journey Mapping: Not Just a Research Project

6 v2As more and more people are learning about journey mapping, it’s becoming clear to them just how useful it can be. And that’s great! But sometimes journey mapping can be misunderstood—or rather, only used at a fraction of its potential. While many people conceive of journey mapping as a research activity, in truth it can be so much more than that, if you do it right.

The true usefulness of journey mapping lies in instigating organizational change. Doing it right obviously involves lots of time researching with your customers. In fact, a key reason that some see journey mapping as only a research tool is that it is a research tool—but only in part. Viewing customer journey maps as a research project leaves out the most important recipient of the journey mapping process, and the one that makes it a truly unique tool—those parts of the business that most need to understand your existing customer experience. Read more

Exemplary Customer Service: It’s All About the Journey

journey_11868817_m-2015-1“The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer” – Peter Drucker

Sometimes, it seems that companies focus exclusively on the first half of this equation. Sales to new customers are exciting, and resources are appropriately targeted to land new customers. Look at the continual offers coming from TV service and internet providers.

But the second half is just as critical.  In fact, for organic growth, it’s even more so.  In The Economics of E-Loyalty, Bain & Company reports that a 5% improvement in customer loyalty leads to a growth in profitability of 25-90%.

Clearly, customer loyalty is critical, and service is central to building it. However, Forrester Research, Inc. reports that only 48% of companies say they have any kind of customer service strategy (The State of Customer Experience, 2015). If over half of companies have no strategy for serving their customers, what does this mean for the customers themselves? Read more

Don’t Let Scripts Ruin a Great Customer Experience

script_customer-experience-Depositphotos_14056910_sLast week I had a computer problem that required me to contact technical support. I was sure I would have to send my computer in, but they were able to quickly solve my problem.

So why was I so annoyed? And why does this matter to you?

I started with phone support, but after hearing there would be a 13-minute wait, I fired up chat. After greeting me, the technician said, “I will give my best effort to resolve your issue.” “Great!” I responded, and gave the details.

I then waited for two minutes while she was obviously working with another customer. Eventually she responded, “I’m sorry for the wait. I will give my best effort to resolve your issue.” She then proceeded to apply an update to my computer, telling me a third time that she will give her best effort to resolve my issue.

While the computer was rebooting I received a call from phone support, so I switched to this mode.

That’s when this new tech said it: “I will give my best effort to resolve your issue.” My customer service alarm immediately went off. Read more

Guest Post: What does your retail pricing say about you?

Shawnby Shawn Phillips

As a self-professed retail geek, I’m always noticing prices and deals that retailers offer. More than that, though, I notice what these prices really mean. What are you saying to a customer when you set the price of a product? It’s a good question, because you end up saying a lot.

Price is, of course, one of the central touchpoints of retail. But it’s a lot more complex than it seems. The customer wants to feel good about the amount they paid for their purchase, and while this can mean that they feel like they got a great deal, it can also mean that they feel like they paid a fair price for a premium product. If your customer feels like a high-quality product is priced too low, they might start to doubt the quality. Read more

Reduce effort > Giving refunds

customer-compliantsWhat do you do with an unhappy customer? Refunds are the easy way out. They don’t fix the problem. They just put a band-aid on the situation, without addressing the underlying problem that led your busy customer to take time to call you.

But don’t take my word for it. A report from Beyond Philosophy entitled The Customer Complaints X-Ray uses a survey of 1015 respondents in Europe and the USA to study which made more of a difference in loyalty – the outcome of the complaint, or the way it was handled. (The full report isn’t available without joining, but you can get a summary on their website.) What did they find?

The first question is: what drives a customer’s likelihood to continue doing business with you? Is it the outcome (getting a refund, resolving the problem, etc.) or the way the complaint is handled? Read more

Dan Arielly nails customer empathy

RadarI’m a big fan of Prof. Arielly’s work, such as the book Predictably Irrational, and subscribe to his weekly Q&A.  His response to a question this week offers great advice to us in CX who are trying to create customer empathy.

Dear Dan,

I’m an air-traffic controller at a large airport. I don’t work in the tower but in a remote radar facility about 30 miles away, handling traffic within 50 miles of the airport. As a radar controller, everything is completely abstract. Would being able to actually see the planes I am guiding take off and land generate greater job satisfaction than just seeing targets on a screen?

—Zack

Probably. In many different domains (including moral judgment and empathy), when we present information in increasingly abstract ways, emotions get suppressed, and we care less. So if you plan to stay in this type of job for a while, moving to a tower might well boost your motivation.

But even if you stay put, other changes might increase the perceived meaning of your labor. What if your screen showed how many passengers were on each plane? What if, at landing time, you were told that they were all healthy? What if you were shown some pictures of the people waiting for them at the airport? With such changes, the information you have about the passengers in your care would be more than just a dot, and both your caring and your motivation should increase.

Takeaway

One of the biggest problems we face in customer experience is when employees become disconnected from customers.  I’ve worked in a division before where nobody in product management or marketing had ever met a client, and we had demonstrably the worst customer experience in the marketplace, leading the industry in cancellation rates.

Take his advice to heart – how can you continually share the impact with your employees, turning your customers into human beings, rather than dots on a screen?