One of the key principles in customer experience management is consistency. Without consistency, some customers may get a great experience and others will get something mediocre. I consider customer experience and consistency to be “BFF” or best friends forever. They are joined, never to part.
Here’s a personal experience to illustrate. I called AT&T to get help with some additional features / services I needed while I was traveling recently. They explained it all, I selected the right options and they even set the expiry date for these temporary features. Nice. At another time, I needed to call AT&T to check my phone warranty (my cellphone battery wasn’t holding its charge). They took care of the issue quickly and sent out a replacement battery. Wow, I actually felt like they appreciated my many years of patronage (since I was just past warranty expire date). I even said to one of the reps, “I can’t believe I can get such great treatment at AT&T.”
The third time was not so good.
I called AT&T with a billing question (I’d rather do this all online, but sometimes you have to call) and the rep said she couldn’t help me very well. She told me I should wait 2 more days (for my bill to appear online) and then someone from AT&T would call on that day. I waited; no one called. Then, 3 days later, they called at 6:30am when my phone was off. They called again the following morning when I was on the phone and so I missed their call. (I was going to write a blog about how consistent AT&T was until that last hiccup. You see my point on consistency!)
Your organization needs to be trained on how to deliver the same experience over and over again with reliability. This may sound daunting if you think of every touchpoint you have with your customers. Take heart. Yes, you want consistency as much as possible, but start with a focus on providing consistency around the most important customer touchpoints.
How do you know which touchpoints are most important? Your customers should tell you. They may really need reliability in billing, ease in customer service renewals or no hassle returns. You can start to learn what these touchpoints may be by calling a few key customers. Let them tell you the most crucial areas of their experience (with a company like yours). Then test out if other customers report the same focus areas. (Of course, there are formal ways to approach this with customer experience mapping. I highly recommend that, but this is a good proxy to quickly test out where to focus. If you need resources for CX mapping, let me know, that is a great approach.) If you can find a few touchpoints that are key to customers, see what you can do to consistently deliver the best experience at those intersections. Working to create greater consistency is a great internal exercise that builds this competency (you’ll need that talent regardless of the touchpoint).
Consider these diverse ways consistency is needed:
- Channel consistency – how consistently can you deliver a positive experience online (any page or section, with any online tool or function)? In your call center? Via your store personnel?
- Cross-channel consistency – does your in-store or customer service experience feel as positive as your website experience, or vice versa?
- Policy consistency – are your employee’s hands tied in one area or one channel that creates inconsistencies? For example, can phone customer service reps offer refunds even though the web self-service options show that refunds aren’t possible? I’m sure you’ve run into issues like this as a customer, and you likely know where this happens in your company.
What does consistency earn you?
When you are consistent, you have a platform that allows customers to tell their friends what they can expect. Just think of a restaurant that offers great food and service on one visit, but fails to deliver during the next visit. The restaurant won’t gain anything (like word of mouth) and may likely lose something (like repeat customers and positive WOM).
In the last round of customer experience mapping sessions I participated in, multiple customers explicitly said that they put their personal reputation on the line when they recommend a company. And they take it personally if the friend doesn’t get the same level of service.
Create a consistency mantra in your company and you’ll create a solid foundation for growth.