Opinion: This is the best way to do business now

by Oluwafemi Oyefeso

 

In recent times the number of touch points which a customer can contact an organization through has geometrically increased. Apart from an organization’s physical location, there are other ways customers may contact organizations which could be through their contact centres or by social media. In a bid to ensure the ship runs smoothly each of these units or departments  are led by someone in charge of the daily operations who marshals the troops so that there is leadership, direction, coordination and to ensure little or nothing falls through the cracks, while this system of operation is good, organizations will need to take it a step further by looking at their operations through the eyes of the customer to truly understand that customers go through journeys in getting service and may contact one or more touch points to get that service, hence there should be a shift from just touch point management to customer journey management. The present day journey of a customer is more tilted in favour of the organization, with the customer having to go through hoops because the journey is the result of individual departmental efforts, which most times are siloed and not aligned together creating bad experiences for customers.

Understanding the customer journey is about learning what customers experience from the moment they begin considering a purchase, and then working to make the journey towards buying a product or service as simple, clear, and efficient as possible. The customer journey is very crucial.

What does it take for a customer to get service from your organization? There are some organizations that just the thought of visiting them, brings a shiver to the spine because one seems to have to pass through the eye of a needle, from waiting lines to filling forms, to moving from one department to the other involving the customers contacting different touch points.

According to Parature,a CRM Software company, an average customer uses an average of four channels to communicate with a brand, the most popular ones being physical visits and via the contact centre, it is therefore crucial that an organization should support as many contact options as possible and ensure a consistent experience across all.

It’s not enough to simply provide a range of contact options in the contact page of the website—a true Omni-channel customer experience is the new standard. Companies and organizations should take steps to ensure that customers and their preferences are remembered and cut across all channels. For instance, if a query starts by a physical visit and the customer chooses to continue the interaction later via phone, they should not have to explain from the beginning, which is usually the norm today, leaving the customer to narrate the issues afresh to each person or department he comes across.

For instance, an average bank has at least 6 or 7 online touch points for engagement apart from physical locations i.e Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, SnapChat, how well do these offline and online elements integrate? Can I make a complaint at a branch and finish it off online? This is why it is crucial to manage the journey and not just look narrowly at touch points.

Organizations that are unable to create seamless journeys across their touch points usually have a high number of dissatisfied customers, cranky and burnt out employees, high call rates, defections and churn, as not everyone has the patience and time to stick to an organization which cannot put its house in order, especially in a competitive market. On the other hand, the organizations that have smooth customer journeys have lower call rates, happier customers, high referral rates and of course are better at retaining their customers and getting new customers. A critical look needs to be taken at the different units in the organization to ensure that all are aligned. For instance the sales team may be meeting their targets and selling products to customers, but the sales team may not be properly educating the customer on what he is buying into, the options available and how to navigate through the product, what happens then is that a problem is created for the operation or retention team or the call center, who the customer has to contact to solve problems created and bridge the knowledge gap for the customers. The sales team looks good with their target and the operations team too has its hands full, solving customer’s queries which should not have arisen in the first place, if proper education was carried out.

To look at journeys effectively, the cap of transactional thinking has to be removed and the garb of relational thinking needs to be adorned, a trade off will have to be made, metrics will need to be adjusted such that the sales team will not just be rewarded for closing a sale but for keeping that customer for at least a period, in exchange for lesser target, this will be more profitable for the company as a better percentage of its customers will be retained, as the end users are more engaged and more educated by the sales team.

Organizations that are bold and daring can do a complete overhaul by looking at all transactions and see through the eyes of the customer, producing a “as is” document and how “it could be”, looking critically at what is possible and the advantages the “ease of doing business’ brings and also the internal sacrifices these changes will take.  The ultimate is for a company to have a good grasp of how the customer journey snakes across touch points and provide an appropriate response.

Companies that understand their customer journeys have a better edge over their contemporaries in the market place, customers gravitate more towards them as they have a better understanding of their customers and their pain points, customers reward them for doing that by staying longer, spending more with them and referring their friends, a cost which the company would have spent on sales.

It is time to deemphasize touch points and go big on customer journey management.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

The author tweets @oluwafemioyefes

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