Controlling the End-to-End Customer Experience

    Almost all leading companies now understand that they are in the customer experience business.

    Customer expectations are at an all-time high. Traditional differentiators like product and price are just one piece of the puzzle. Technology has given customers unparalleled power to dictate the terms of their relationship with you. They want a personalised, consistent and high-quality service, all of the time - without fail.

    How you deliver is just as important as what you deliver and the sooner your organisation starts to live by this mantra, the better chance you have of competing in this era of phenomenally high expectations.

    Customer experience vs. customer service

    After decades of outsourcing customer service to the cheapest bidder, businesses have finally realised that they sacrificed one of their biggest USPs. You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but if you haven’t got the people to support it, you don’t have a business. In recent years, organisations have refocused their customer service efforts and many are now reaping the benefits.

    But customer expectations are evolving much faster than businesses are able to keep up with. These days, good service only forms one part of their multi-faceted demands.

    Many businesses still struggle to understand the difference between customer service and customer experience.

    You can define customer experience as the sum of all interactions a customer has with your company. Everything from the customer’s discovery of your brand and the purchase of your product, to the after sales support and their everyday use of your product ten years down the line. All of these critical moments, or touchpoints, add up to provide an overall customer experience.

    Think about it like this…

    If you walked into a travel agent and they sold you a great looking holiday at a reasonable price, and did it with a smile on their face, you might say they provided you with excellent service. But if your flights were upgraded at no extra charge, the hotel manager found you a room overlooking the ocean, the food was world-class, the sun shined all week and your forged memories to last a lifetime – you’d probably say they provided you with an excellent experience.

    That’s the difference.

    We can’t control the weather

    If you read the example above and thought: ‘Hang on a minute – the travel agent has absolutely no control of the weather’… well you’ve just tapped into the inherent complexity of managing and measuring customer experience.

    In fact, the average travel agent has little or no control over many of these factors. It is therefore not possible for them to have full control of the customer experience.

    Why do you think Thomas Cook has its own website, its own shops, its own airline and its own hotels? Because it can fully optimise its supply chain and manage the end-to-end experience.

    It’s the same reason that Apple software only works with Apple hardware. And it doesn’t matter where you buy your Apple product from; you can take it into any Apple store in the world and receive support.

    The reality is, the more control you have over these interactions – or touchpoints - the more influence you have over customer experience.

    Of course, not every organisation has the luxury of taking control of their supply chain or opening a store in every city. Even so, many companies are surprised when they realise just how much influence they do have. Without first gaining an understanding of all the ways you influence your customers, it is impossible to create a robust customer experience strategy.

    Learn more about enhancing the customer experience by watching this video.