If I asked you to guess which company had the third most popular app and was fast implementing new technologies that their customers are lining up for, enhancing their customer experience, who would you guess?
Nope. Scroll down……..
Over the next year, customers will be able to go to any McDonald’s around the country and order directly from one of their new in store kiosks, after which they can then pick up their food at a counter or wait on an employee to bring the meal directly to the table.
It makes sense since when you really think about it, McDonalds is in the convenience business. People eat there because they don’t have time (or desire) to cook, and they want a meal that won’t break the bank. We live in a world where we are used to using a computer, pad or phone to streamline most of our daily chores, so a self-serve kiosk (or mobile app) is comfortable to us. McDonalds understands their customer and how to use this insight to enhance the customer experience.
But McDonald’s knows that it’s not about the kiosk. As Justin Bariso points out in Forbes: “The new tech is only the surface. It’s about reaching people emotionally.” It’s about the experience, the journey.
“But I’m not McDonalds!” You don’t need McDonald’s vast resources to understand your customers experience. Map your customer’s journey from their viewpoint; it might lead to unexpected treasures.
IT’S ALL ABOUT CREATING A CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE ROADMAP
You, your team and your site interacts with your customers in varying times during their experience, their journey. Lay out what that journey looks like, mark each interaction, the accompanying response and next steps. A retailer might map out the physical steps a customer takes from entering the store to checkout, how changing the steps taken, adding technologies or bringing the online experience to the physical store can increase sales or reduce walkouts. A service provider could map out the path from initial online interaction to follow up after service was completed, checking where customers drop off and why.
To understand the customer experience, be your customer.
I consulted with a professional firm that was experiencing an decrease in customer satisfaction. The work product was excellent but something about the way the firm was operating was not working. We mapped out the client experience, from initial call through resolution, tracked each customer/staff interaction and by what method. It became clear that the way the firm handled their calls was creating frustration for the staff and from the clients. With the staff,s input, we made changes to the flow of calls, set rules and ran call response training. After just a couple of weeks, the clients complaints were back down to normal.
A local service business had an opportunity to expand in two remote locations. They had built an operation that worked smoothly for their local customers but they knew it would collapse if scaled.
How to provide the customer experience when you don’t know the customer?
Like McDonalds, the owners had to re-think the customer experience to create one for the customer they will be serving. We laid out a roadmap of the new customer experience on a white board, step by step. From the initial click online until the service was completed, we laid out every step, plotted every customer interaction, which action and reaction was needed, what were the potential issues and objections and on until we were satisfied. From there we mapped out an operational plan that would provide a seamless and personalized customer experience.
Great on paper but would it work? To gauge the customer experience, why not ask a customer? I reached out to a few online parent groups (the target audience) and invited them to take a short survey which outlined our process (not the service, just the process). We received sufficient responses that helped us understand what would work and what we had missed.
The company opened in their 1st location and the customer feedback (which we actively solicit after every experience) demonstrates why this service is growing faster than we had projected.
BEWARE: THAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE ROAD MAP IS ALIVE!
The only constant in life is change and that is true in business. Your road map should remain on the white board, ready to be modified to meet the expectations of the ever changing customer.
The white board, the surveys, the feedback became this company’s VOC voice of the customer.
Whether you are in the business planning stage or have been operating for years the most important voice is the voice of the customer. Listen to it or your competitors will.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —(probably not) Maya Angelou
PS: I found this excellent article from Forbes that reiterates the importance of the customer experience from 2010. But, customer satisfaction is not enough, as Barnes & Noble sadly learned. You need to understand what your customer experience will be, not just is. McDonald’s understands this, but sadly Barnes & Nobles was so focused on the in store experience and didn’t see the new experience being born online.