THE PRESSURE THAT COMES WITH PLEASING YOUR CUSTOMERS
It’s 11:30 pm, you are just settling down to sleep after a long day of running your business. You take one last look at your phone to make sure nothing is on fire and you can sleep peacefully. That is when you see it, the email alert ‘New Review on Yelp’ or ‘Michael left a review for My Company on Google My Business’ and the thoughts start creeping through your mind and keep you up for another hour.
Chances are if you are a business owner, you don’t have to imagine, you have experienced this first hand. First of all, turn off those notifications, they are not healthy and not doing you any good! 2nd, after you have your cup of coffee in the morning, read the review and see if there isn’t something actually broken at your business.
If there was a failure at your business that let the customer down, more than likely, it was a breakdown in their customer experience. Customer experience is the process your customer follows from the time they first try to interact with that business to the time they complete their purchase or transaction. A call center agent or customer experience agent can play either a large role or the entire role for your company.
Customer experience is one of those industry buzzwords that gets thrown around often, but rarely does it get the attention it deserves, especially in well established businesses.
MAPPING THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
You can find a big whiteboard, or a large sheet of paper. But write out all the different ways, from beginning to end the customer interacts with your business.
How do customers find you and find out how to spend money with you? Do they look up your hours on Google Maps? Do they get directions though Yelp? Do they visit your website, create an account and order a product? Do they call in to schedule an appointment? Do they chat with someone at the website? Sign up for an email at an event? Message you on Facebook? All of these are different ways customers might interact with your business the first time. That is step one of mapping the customer journey.
THE NEXT STEP
Once you identified all the ways a customer can start interacting with you, follow their journey and see what they see. Realize there might be multiple journeys and you might need more paper. If they ordered something online on their first visit, what emails do they get, how do they get notified of when their service starts, or when they should expect to receive their item. Is there an on boarding call with an account manager? Do they get notified of what to expect?
Maybe you ordered a cab and the next step is the cab ride that needs to be mapped out. Don’t forget about all the details to document, every action a customer has to take to work with your business needs to be included.
This may be tedious, but all of these steps are areas of your company you can change, improve, speed up, eliminate, simplify, add technology where needed, or even add additional human support.
THE FINAL STEP IN THE JOURNEY
You’ve made it, you have documented every interaction your customer has made with your staff and company. The last few steps might be some of the easiest to change so pay attention to how you can improve this last step. If you deliver food, perhaps it’s a cheeky message you have at the bottom of the takeout box to sign up for your text alerts. If you are a retail store, maybe it’s how your cashier thanks the customer for their business (and maybe encourages an email or text subscription). If you are a transportation company, it’s how the customers pays and what the driver does to make sure they didn’t leave anything and how to ride with them next time.
Don’t forget about any post sale surveys that you might be doing. Likewise, this could be a good time to consider adding one to the end of your customer journey if you are not doing one yet.
To truly experience the customer journey, you should go though it yourself. Buy something from your online store (from a different email ideally). Book a cab ride for your own company and go somewhere. Or send someone in who can give a detailed report to add to your customer experience map. This is where you can find potential breakdowns or discover that what you thought the experience was, didn’t match up to what really happens.
Once you have all the details complete, see where parts of your company can be improved. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you identify a lot of areas to improve, your business wasn’t built in a day and improving your business won’t happen in a month. Be reasonable and make a 6 month, 12 month and 18 month plan on how you will make the changes necessary to stay competitive.