Will your customer experience be competitive by 2015?

12th Aug 2010

Organisations are losing control over their customer experiences, altering the landscape of customer experience forever — yet those that understand and embrace this today will be closer to their customers than any competitor will in the years to come.

Not that long ago, you advertised, customers bought. Correspondence came by mail. Replies in a week were considered swift. But today, the rise of always-on Internet has changed the pace and velocity of interactions between companies and their customers forever.
From instant ordering and social media to your competitors, control of customer relationships has shifted into the hands of anyone with a connection. Negative word of mouth is only a mouse click away – and it can cost a business dearly.
Consider a recent Google search for a $10 billion bank - which yielded only three mentions of the bank on the first page of search results, including a consumer Yelp! review denigrating the bank as ".... Not even worthy of one star. [They] have obscene fees." A competitor’s ad appeared above this banks lone search result (a regional competitor had purchased their brand name as a keyword), making these damaging online references available to anyone - including prospects, customers investors and the media.
Unfortunately, the bank is representative of many businesses today that have not yet recognised that no matter what product or service you provide, customers are more savvy and demanding than ever. Armed with an increasing ability to control what they see and hear, consumers are more informed and connected than ever.
Today, complexly interconnected touchpoints occur at every single point of interaction between you and your customers, driving customer experience. Over the next five years, a lack of customer touchpoint awareness can leave the door wide open to brand erosion and smarter competition. And the velocity of this change is staggering.
The costs of ignoring customer experience are immense. In 2009, 86% of consumers said they’d stop doing business with an organisation after a single bad customer experience, up 27% in just four years. Yet the cost of acquiring - and the danger of losing - customers is extremely high; acquiring a new customer can cost up to six to seven times more than retaining a current one. The price of poor experiences can be high enough to shutter your doors.
Taking charge of customer experience
Fortunately, recognition of the critical nature of customer experience has been building. Recent research shows that 90% of executives in the US feel that customer experience is "very important" or "critical" to their firm's strategy in the coming years. Those organisations that track customer experience seriously enjoy 40% better marketing performance than those that don’t – and see 35 times MORE leads in their sales pipeline that result in closed business.
What can companies do to deliver a differentiated customer experience in a world where customer expectations are changing as fast as touchpoints are multiplying? It starts by accepting that customer experience is no longer within your complete control, but is now defined by how your organization is perceived by your customers.
Most companies don’t have a complete picture of their existing interactions or touchpoints - even the ones they control. Your organisation must evaluate how your brand touches, influences and serves customers by identifying, measuring, and understanding the critical touchpoints that drive desired customer experiences and business results.
So where do you start?
First, identify all your touchpoints – every single interaction between you, your prospects, and your customers – to create a map of exactly where you are today. This will help you leverage new insights to chart a path to where you need to go tomorrow. I call this exercise Touchpoint Mapping.
Your Touchpoint Map should highlight:
  • The 'moments of truth' where you interact with customers.
  • All touchpoints at each interaction, including categorisation by type (human, interactive or static).
  • How touchpoints work individually, or in sequence ('touchpoint paths') to move customers through the relationship lifecycle and closer to your company.
  • The most important touchpoints with regards to: acquisition and retention; calue to your business and value to customers; ability to generate revenue (or cost to create and maintain); efficacy at meeting both business and customer needs.
  • Gaps where touchpoints should exist but don’t.
  • Redundancies where touchpoints exist but shouldn’t.
With this data in hand, you’ll have a roadmap for constructing a specific plan to move forward. A plan that helps set priorities, maps out costs and benefits, and provides specific metrics for measuring results.
Perhaps most importantly, this map is an opportunity for organizations to measure and quantify the effectiveness of each touchpoint and its ability to positively (or negatively) influence customer experience.
Ask yourself this: "In 2015, will we be in closer touch with our customers than our competitors?" The best way to answer that question is by knowing the answer to this one: "What is our customer experience – and how can we improve it?"
By moving to control the touchpoints you can - and influencing those you cannot control - you will build better experiences, stronger relationships, and drive customer loyalty over the next five years - and beyond.

Michael Hinshaw is managing director of MCorp Consulting, a San Francisco Bay Area-based research, brand and customer experience consultancy that maps and improves the touchpoints between organizations and their customers

Replies (0)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.