THE NEVER-ENDING STORY
We’re thinking about customer experience all wrong.
We often think of customer experience as a series of touchpoints: a visit to a store or a call to a helpdesk and so on.
But a new study by business consultants Mckinsey found a remarkable anomaly. In a survey across four industries, Mckinsey discovered that even if each touchpoint recorded high customer satisfaction, the entire customer journey could score a poor rating.
For example, they studied an internet provider who would “onboard” a customer over three months. “The journey involved an average of nine phone calls, a home visit from a technician, and numerous web and mail interactions. At each touchpoint, the interaction had at least a 90 percent chance of going well. But average customer satisfaction fell almost 40 percent over the course of the entire journey. The touchpoints weren’t broken— but the onboarding process as a whole was.”
The Mckinsey study reminds me of a talk by Simon Sinek, the “What, How, Why” guy from TED Talks. He says we’re talking about business all wrong. We compare it to sport with words like winning and competing. Now, sport is finite: it has agreed rules, a set number of players and a winner. But business is infinite – there’s no set rules or moves and it never ends. There is no win or lose, just an ongoing challenge for more, better, faster.
In Mckinsey’s study we see that customer touchpoints are finite. But customer journeys are infinite.
This is transformative. When we re-imagine customer experience as a never-ending journey we give ourselves permission to think holistically and break the rules (because there were none to begin with). We empower our teams to escape the confines (and excuses) of silos. And we free ourselves to aim for the long haul.
Customer experience, like the guru says, is a journey not a destination. Vincent Heeringa is executive director at Anthem, an integrated communications agency