A few weeks ago I took a train journey from London to Manchester with an operator which prides itself on its fun brand and excellent customer experience. I had a number of interactions – or touch points – with the brand as I went through this customer journey, all holding the potential to either enforce the brand promise or to ‘de-rail’ my burgeoning positive experience.

The company’s mobile app was efficient, informative and a pleasure to use, staff were friendly, the brand livery was engaging and even the menus had a sense of fun to them. However, things weren’t so positive when it came to the paid-for wi-fi. The service promised to be ‘fast and efficient’ but the reality was anything but. My frustration with this touch point sullied the overall experience I had with the brand on that occasion. While it didn’t totally erase the positive feelings engendered by the other interactions I had, it definitely took the sheen off the experience, and had a negative impact on my overall feeling towards this particular journey.

This sort of experience is one that is common across many companies and brands. Businesses often excel in certain touch points on the customer journey, but let the experience slip with just one or two poorly executed interactions. After all, if most of the interactions with a company are excellent, surely they could get away with one or two under-par experiences? Not if the company wants to truly excel at delivering the best customer experience.

This above point highlights the importance of consistency across a customer journey. One rogue interaction that dissatisfies, or doesn’t meet an organisation’s brand promise, can tarnish an otherwise excellent experience. McKinsey&Co highlight the importance of consistency in customer experience when they discuss the ‘three C’s’ of customer satisfaction:

  • Consistency of experience – each touch point feels a part of the same experience
  • Consistency of emotion – each customer ‘feels’ the same across the journey
  • Consistency of communication – the tone that is used to communicate is consistent

With this in mind, any company looking to excel on these points has to marry two key things:

  • The right customer experience strategy – what it wants to achieve and how it wants its customer to feel
  • The most effective execution – how it delivers the strategy, implements and acts on customer feedback and ensures desired impact is being felt

More and more businesses are using customer satisfaction research combined with reporting and management tools to ensure that their customer strategy is effective. However, the companies that excel are going one step further and ensuring that the experience is absolutely consistent across all touch points.

We always recommend our clients begin a customer experience programme with a journey mapping exercise to identify the most important touch points – ‘the moments of truth’.

It is then important to not just focus on these moments of truth, but to focus on the ecosphere that they are situated in. What are the other touch points that may be involved in this moment of truth’s journey? Each of these touch points are as crucial to get right as the moment of truth itself, as they will each colour the customer’s experience.

Once these crucial journeys have been established it’s important to track performance to ensure that the customer experience strategy is being effectively executed, and in a consistent manner.

Many of our clients at B2B international have online reporting systems to track performance of customer satisfaction across the customer journey. This allows companies to employ swift action if particular touch points are under-performing, as well as indicating any problems or issues which may require further exploration. These online reporting systems are also complemented by online ‘detractor management systems’ (DMS). The DMS aims to turn detractors into satisfied customers by allowing companies to monitor dissatisfied customers as soon as they are identified and rectify the problems swiftly. This also enables close ‘case management’, so that companies can track the resolution process, ensuring that any dissatisfied customers have their problems addressed. This approach allows companies to identify live problems with any interactions along the customer journey, and to ensure consistency.

If the train provider I travelled with had learnt of my dissatisfaction with the wi-fi experience, it could have used this information to deliver an apology, thus alleviating my exasperation somewhat. However, the company would only truly excel if it took the knowledge on board, and made appropriate adjustments to ensure its other customers received a truly consistent positive customer experience in the future.

Matthew Powell, research manager at global business-to-business market research agency B2B International

B2B International was launched as a family business in 1998 and has grown to employ a team of 120 people across its global network. Headquartered in Manchester UK, the firm provides comprehensive business-to-business research services to a wide range of sectors, from traditional heavy industry through to financial and business services. It counts 600 of the world’s largest 1,500 companies among its client base. For more information please contact B2B International on +44 (0)161 440 6000 or email info@b2binternational.com

Matt PowellMatthew Powell
Matthew started his career as a researcher at B2B International ten years ago. He works on a number of customer experience programmes for a range of clients. Many of these projects are experience programmes which encompassing a number of elements, such as customer journey mapping, customer promise development, satisfaction tracking, segmentation, and integrated satisfaction management tools. Matthew’s customer experience clients come from a number of sectors, from education, to technology, to food & drinks, to FMCG. Matthew has also written the white paper “Putting the customer at the heart of the business” for B2B’s sister company Deep See. He is a member of the MRS, ESOMAR and AQR.

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