We often refer to the importance of an “outside-in” perspective in customer experience. In simple terms, it means that the interaction with a company is viewed from a customer’s perspective. Looking at the company through customers’ eyes and what it feels like to do business with that company. It creates the opportunity to address glaring problems or create and offer new solutions. Trying to win and hold customers with an “inside-out” view only, is roadmap of CX laggards – seen in misaligned experiences, high cost to serve, churn and low repeat business. In a time where experience is THE differentiator, companies can simply not afford to offer their services based purely on internal capabilities, or legacy process and systems. Customers’ needs and behaviour have changed. They easily choose another brand in favour of a better experience, for the exact same (or slightly different) functional features.
This brief case study highlights the importance of constantly reviewing the customer journey from the customer’s perspective, to secure sales and grow your business.
We all make mistakes, right? But as a customer experience professional, I am always curious to see the service recovery action. Full disclosure: I have low expectations on this front. I am usually very disappointed in how companies deal with service issues and generally find having to address problems with time-consuming effort. But I’m happy to share a good news story and some lessons to share.
The story: I recently bought two rugs online. The process of selecting, ordering, paying and receipt of the delivery, was super-easy. However, upon opening the parcel, I discovered that the size of the one rug was incorrect. I immediately called the company, and it was only then that they realised the size was incorrectly listed on the website. As with any good service recovery, the offer to rectify the problem was immediately actioned. I needed to choose an alternative design for the size I required and send it through the online web query for the swap. I started doubting if they were going to honour their undertaking after a few days passed, so I decided to call again, only for them to realise then, that the web query could not be tracked on their end. To their credit, I experienced a willingness to support and the intention to remove all effort on my part, throughout my contact with them. I am also happy to share that I did not only receive the replaced rug, but also, I was not charged for the variance in price! I honestly did not expect that, as I was happy to pay for what I purchased!
The takeout: Be proactive by reviewing all channels to your business. Regularly check the website (especially for online sales) to ensure the user experience contributes to your sales. My experience could easily have resulted in a cancelled order.
Prevention costs less (and is better than cure)!
Three ways to do this…
#1 As in this case, use the feedback from customers to address user experience challenges they raise. Not only could the listed prices be reviewed and updated, but also potential breaks on their web query forms! All provided by the feedback of only one customer! It is important to note that potential buyers may abandon their purchases with the slightest effort or uncertainty. Unsolicited customer feedback holds rich insights for business. It is important to ensure that these sources of feedback – emails, web reviews, call centre calls, web queries, posts on social media, present unique opportunities to identify compromised customer experience – meaning the feedback is tracked, analysed and used for improvement. Companies using customer feedback to their advantage will quickly be able to see if a system, process, or people challenge lies at the root of a problem and address it. [Equally useful feedback can be obtained through outbound surveys]
#2 Be a customer of your own business Buy items from your own website to identify any user challenges. Go through the entire process (end-to-end). Although testing the site ‘as a potential buyer’ is a low cost and easy way to keep a finger on the pulse, be mindful of your own ‘blind spots’. Knowing what to expect may blind you to the other ways browsers may navigate through your website to find and buy your products or services.
# 3 A good way to overcome these blinds spots and really understand how browsers experience the website and what triggers the purchase or not, is to consider independent channel reviews.
There are various ways to do that … some are very easy, simple and low-cost methods, and others more sophisticated, scientific, involved and costly.
Using a low-cost option, we would simply request a researcher to perform a task in a given time box, ask them to share the outcome of the task and report on their experience during the task – in other words: document what they were thinking, how they approached the task and their rationale, their emotional response at certain trigger points, and what solution they think would work for the problem/task they were faced with. Then compare this with the other researchers’ feedback.
Using this approach for a client recently, where the website is one of the most channels to find out about their services or products, revealed the complexity of the navigation process, the difficult and unfamiliar terminology for browsers, and the inconsistent end result by the researchers (browsers). The purpose of what the website must do or achieve, may be uncertain and browsers may abandon their efforts to solve their problem with your company. These reviews will reveal what the experience is and point out the gaps for the desired results.
More complex methodologies, such as used in neuroscience, can be roped in to uncover subconscious behaviour of browsers. Through eye-tracking technology for instance, heat maps can show what attracts and holds browsers’ attention. Even facial expressions can be analysed to uncover the subconscious emotional reactions to content!
More often than not, customers experience a complete disconnect using different channels for the same company. In some cases, one could be left thinking once a product is delivered, that a completely different company deals with the support, where the person on the other side of a call may seem to be from a different planet…definitely compared to the experience on the website! One of the other challenges of the diversity of channels customers use to talk to companies, is email communication. For example: In our recent channel review for a client, no less than 4 different “people” [URL/email addresses] were dealing with one customer. From an email address reflecting “customer service” in the address, to the next response reflecting a generic reference to one separate business unit, to a reference to the global brand and to a local branch… everyone with a different email signature too! These practices confuse customers and leave them feeling uncertain.
In closing – using channel reviews to see and experience the interaction with a company, from a customer’s perspective, will provide the insight for being far more proactive…. Spending less on serve recovery and winning and holding to your customers.
Talk to us for independent outside-in channel reviews. We can help you to see critical moments and touch points from your customers’ perspective. These insights will get you ahead of the laggards!! Contact us at [email protected] www.consumerlab.co.za