Friday, March 20, 2015

Guest Post: Do you know where your Customers are coming from? Understanding your Customer's Journey

By: Jessica Noble

Rarely are we a customer's first interaction with our company.  Whether we're in field sales or customer support, customers have oftentimes already had opportunities to form impressions, sometime very strong ones about our companies, our products, and our brands.  The interaction could have been as brief as a billboard, as informal as a friend's social media post, a transaction on a corporate website, or a human experience with another team member in the company.  Each of these observations, interactions, and transactions can be very impactful Moments that Matter.

Moments that Matter are the experiences that form strong impressions.  Some observations, interactions and transactions leave us feeling net neutral.  A minimal impression was made.  If we completed a transaction, our need was met in an unremarkable way.   Other observations, interactions and transactions leave an impression.  It could be a brief impression that makes us smile or roll our eyes or, a lasting impression that makes us want to send out a message across all forms of social media sharing delight or outrage!

I've had a few of these Moments that Matter lately but one in particular was the result of a hotel stay.

A hotel I stayed at in February accidentally over-billed me, but it was their poor follow-through that left the impression.
  • During the following month when I didn't get the credit, I called seven times. 
  • Three times I didn't get a call back.  
  • Three times they told me the credit would be applied with a few days.  Each time they committed to calling within 24 hours to confirm the credit when they saw it processed.
  • Once they told me the credit had been applied on their side and the issue was with my credit card.
Ultimately it ended up being an issue with their card processor.  On my eighth call, I spoke with someone outside the accounting department, a lady with highly developed customer service skills.  She listened to where I was coming from, made a commitment to follow-up with her manager, and to call me back with resolution within the hour.  She did call me back and they cut a check that was mailed overnight on that day.  That became the Moment that Mattered - the lasting impression.  She listened, understood the journey I had been on, and took steps that made sense in that context.

Understanding where our customer is coming from provides great insight into how they may be feeling and what they may need from us during this next interaction. 
  • Are they coming to us after trying to do something (complete a transaction/purchase/return) on the corporate website unsuccessfully.  
  • Did a competitor's product arrive and not meet their expectations (poor quality), and now they’re looking for a better product? 
  • Did their company engage with another business partner for services that didn't help them realize the business value they expected? 
We need to use what we know about a customer's experience with our company and all of the possible interaction points to better listen and understand where they are coming from and where they have already been to provide exceptional Moments that Matter.

Jessica is the Customer Experience Practice Leader at Tribridge. With a background in Sales, Product Management, CRM and CX consulting.  Jessica is passionate about working alongside customers to transform their organizations and realize their unique CX goals.

Follow her on LinkedIn: JessicaJNoble or Twitter: @JessicaJNoble.

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