Have you ever felt like you have lost control of the customer relationship, and despite your best efforts, at any point you can lose the love of your clients. For example you have a great client for 3 years for your accounting service and you have delivered value at every transaction. But at your last invoice the client got upset by what they thought were “surprise” charges, and you have not lost the client yet, but based on the last bristly interaction between the client and your office staff they are looking for a new firm and you will lose them soon. How can 3 years of great service go down the tubes so fast, and for unforeseen reasons?
To find out the answer, and build a more proactive model for customer loyalty in your business we need to do some journey mapping. Your customers have many interactions with your business, some are measured and controlled and some are not. By crafting deliberate experiences at each point of the journey you have a much better chance of delivering the customer experience that you hope.
I love how Nicholas Webb describes the client touch points in his book “What Customers Crave”. Webb describes five major areas of “touch points” with your customers. Each having its own importance in the customer journey, and a chance to either add to or detract from the customer experience. Take a peek at each one, and outline the experience you would like your customer to have with each point. Once you have made your outline, then you can implement processes to ensure the experiences are delivered and measured.
- The Pre-Touch – This is the moment when the prospect does not have any experience with your company at all, and is learning about your company. What impression, or promises do you make? Can your niche customers understand that they are a perfect match? What experience do they have with your reputation? Here is the first point where I want you to think differently about a customer experience. It’s vital for you to know who your company is, and who it is not, and deliver that message at every point. For example if you own a service business and your online reputation is poor because people complain they have to wait for an appointment. If you know more clearly who your company is and you won’t grow at a pace that can’t ensure quality employees it actually not a negative that you are sold out. Instead it means you are an exclusive company, who insists on quality people and satisfying your premier clientele. So let’s ask again, who is your company, and who are your target customers, and what experience do you want them to have in the pre-touch?
- The First-Touch – This touch is one where we all are most familiar. This is the “first impression”. This touch is when first contact you, walk into your store, or make some kind of initial inquiry. At this stage customers may be still highly sensitive to every level of the experience, and how well it matches with their expectations. How do things look, sound, feel, smell, taste and feel. Let’s say you have an technical company and you offer over the phone support, and you have a bad sound quality on your phone system. What first impression does this make? It’s more than a daily annoyance that we all live with these days of technical inconsistency, but because it’s the first impression of a technology company customers may lose faith in your company’s technical abilities.
- The Core-Touch – The core touch point occurs when customers engage your product or service. Customers have completed the research phase and are now buyers. Many business primarily focus on this touch point, though all are important. This touch point is about pricing, policies, trust building, people interaction, promises and everything that takes place as the client selects and decides to buy your product or service.
- The Last-Touch – The way you wrap up a transaction, take payment and thank customers. It’s the moment your airline crew announces on the intercom “Thank you for choosing us, and if you are from San Francisco, welcome home”. It’s making sure you are not waiting for the valet in the rain after your dinner. If done right your last touch won’t really be your last touch because the customer will be back for more. So what are your last touch processes?
- The In-Touch Moment – So if we just had the “last touch” how is there more? The in-touch moments are about marketing to existing customers. Keep giving to customers and banking that good will. Client want to know that the relationship that they have built with your company is genuine and they are not just a number. In practical terms when stay in touch with clients after transaction do you still offer value, or are they only as good as their last purchase? For example do you pepper them with mass advertisements, or do you understand and track their needs and market relevant offers and information. The latter is the relationship building way to market to clients.
So start your brainstorm and map out your customer’s journey through the five touch points. There may be different journey maps for different types of customers your have. I hope you generate some great ideas and gain some clarity about how to build solid, life-long customers.