CEO & Sr. Consultant/Analyst, Patricia Seybold Group
This week, I met with a large potential client with 20 million end-consumer customers and tens of thousands of channel partners. Their quandary is a classic one: how do we improve the customer experience we offer to our end-customers and our channel partners across product lines, customer touchpoints (automated phone systems, Web, contact center, face-to-face) and distribution channels. Among the various approaches we discussed, I found myself recommending a program to both design and test cross-channel customer experiences.
I was reminded of a great experience I had several years ago as a Comcast cable customer. It was so easy, it surprised, and, yes, delighted me! In fact, it made such an impression on me that I’m telling it now, several years later. My cable TV and Internet were down. I suspected that it was a technical glitch, perhaps caused by someone messing with the cable connections in our condo building. But I was worried that maybe I hadn’t paid the bill for a couple of months since I had been travelling a lot and hadn’t gotten to bill paying for a while. Not wanting to take the time to research when I last paid, I decided to brave the 1-800 line to see if I could get the problem fixed.
I was not optimistic. Like all of you, I hate wrestling with automated voice systems and long holds waiting for someone to help, and explaining myself over and over again to different people. But I dialed the 800 number and selected the option on the IVR menu that related to technical difficulty/system outage. After entering some small bit of info on the phone, I was informed that there was an outage and that it had been reported and would be fixed within 30 minutes, but then I was asked, did I have any more questions? Well I did. I wanted to know if my bill had been paid, and if not, how much I owed, so again, I selected that option, was able to quickly hear a) that I was not in arrears, and b) what the amount due was for my next payment.
Satisfied, I was prepared to hang up the phone, when I was asked another question (still an automated system): Would you like to set up automatic payments? Yes!! Actually, I would! At that point, I was transferred to a person who miraculously had all my info in front of her and only needed me to supply my checking account number and routing number from a check. I was a happy camper.
What I noticed about this experience was that the routing on the automated system seemed to read my mind. It seemed to know that someone calling about a technical problem might also have a business-related question, e.g., have I paid my bill, or am I getting the best rate you have available, and make it easy to get information, again, without talking to a person. Then, when I got the information I needed, the system “knew” that I wasn’t signed up for automatic debiting out of my account and that I might want that option, so it offered it. And, finally, when it was time to transact securely, the system passed me on to a helpful person who had all the information at her fingertips to help me quickly and to reassure me that everything would be taken care of.
How do you know how well customers experience your self-service channels (your Web site, your automated phone system)? How do you know what kind of experience they have when they call on the phone or visit a store or office? Monitoring the customer experience you offer on a single channel is hard but doable. Monitoring the customer experience you offer as customers cross interaction channels or touchpoints is much harder.
We think a lot about designing and monitoring cross-channel experiences. When we lead customers through co-design sessions, they always design cross-channel/multi-channel experiences because they’re human beings and they select a channel to start with based on their context and their mood, then they want to switch, again based on context or need.
If you don’t have a good way to monitor the cross-channel experience
you provide for the most common customer scenarios your customers want
to do, there’s a good way to get started. Try “mystery shopping.” Set
up a program to test the customer experience you provide across
channels for the most common scenarios. You’ll be able to spot and
eliminate many dead ends. Here’s how:
Identifying the Problems in Your Cross-Channel Customer Experience
Borrowing the “Mystery Shopper” Model from Retail
By Ronni T. Marshak, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, December 10, 2009