Preventing marketing attacks from ambushing the customer experience
The concept of guiding patronage behavior can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece and in the print media back to the 1600s. I’m sure you’ve felt the impact of an effective marketing campaign and can personally attest to the success of such efforts on shaping behavior. You might also have had feelings of discomfort from marketing attacks. Did you pre-order the new iPhone 5s? Did you put a Furby or a Slanket under the Christmas tree? Have you agreed to try the DirecTV NFL Ticket? Have you gone to movies on opening night? Our behavior has been influenced to feel a need for many things, some things that may appear crazy to others, even to ourselves in retrospect.
A Blockbuster Flop
This is all well and good (and necessary) that Marketing is out there developing new customers, but the reality is that the customer experience must be positive in order for
the organization to be successful by keeping all of those newly attracted and referred customers. Think about this summer’s expected blockbuster movie, Will Smith’s Beyond Earth, that cost $130 million to make and brought in only $27 million on its opening weekend (third place). The behavior-influencing media hype was all in place but the product delivery fell short compared to expectations. People that went early in the weekend did not have a positive experience and told others to stay away. Who gets the blame for this flop? Considering the role that Will Smith played in every aspect of the movie, he’s out there on the limb for this gap between expectations and reality. Does this set Will up for another flop with his next move? We shall see.
Expectation versus delivery
Who is out there on the limb in your organization for the expectation versus delivery gap? Is it the Marketing and Advertising group that is creating demand for your product/service or are those responsible for the customer experience dangling by one arm from the limb? Since we live in a media-crazed world, ultimately those responsible for the customer experience (aka, the customers’ reality) are out there on that limb, and, usually without the good company of the product development folks.
An effective customer experience program is the only way to protect your organization from the proverbial flopped blockbuster. And the contact center can play a vital role. The investment of tens of millions into product development and then marketing activities is substantially at risk without the ability to effectively interact with the customers. Unfortunately, too many organizations are unable to identify the influencers of customer perception because of faulty customer experience programs. The contact center has an opportunity to help others in the organization be more successful with the insights available to be unlocked.
Is it merely a Fad
Unless you can be content to be a Christmas tree fad, like a Pet Rock, an ongoing relationship with your customers is required. Therefore, the quantification of the customers’ perception of an interaction with your organization is the foundation upon which you are able to influence the customer experience. On the surface, it sounds negative to say that the intent is to exploit the ability to influence the customer perception, but that does in fact largely define the ability to generate and to maximize a positive return. Don’t be in the large majority which is only able to summarize data points and manage service recovery. Masters of the customer experience in contact centers have the power to be the most important and valuable influencers in the organization.
For most organizations, the ability to define influences and to be influencers resides in the contact center. Here is the primary interaction point of the customer experience and the place where it becomes clear that customer expectations may not be met. The contact center personnel are the ones that need to recover for the organization when customers perceive an over-promise and an under-deliver situation has occurred. They are the ones that have the potential to convert that $40 plastic piece of junk into a customer referral. They can take that flop and convert it into future blockbusters. Marketing and contacts centers need to be in lock step.
But none of that is possible unless the customer insights in the contact center are fully exploited. For you to do this you must change your mindset from feedback and VoC to EVALUATION. Stop and think about the times when you complete a survey. What are you really doing? Are you not evaluating? Of course you are. You are saying I liked this or I didn’t like that. Your customers are doing this too so here is your chance to optimize your customer experiences by analyzing the evaluations customers are completing – and converting the analysis into influencers. Doing so will increase the chances that your next marketing investment will be a blockbuster hit.
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