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An Insider’s Guide to Mastering the Customer Experience

By: Les Barker, 7/11/17

I previously worked for an organization that generated $14 million a year in revenue. My department was responsible for a wide variety of print and omni-channel content creation.

However, the biggest complaint our customer service team received was in regards to the way we ordered and delivered business cards.

Can you believe that?

In an organization of over 10,000 multi-cultural staff members situated around the globe, that business card was the first impression clients received. So, everyone had to have one. Our in-plant department printed over 1 million cards a year, with hundreds of orders coming in every month…

In management meetings, the data on business cards was always the topic of discussion. We compared our talks to stories about the customer experience and how we used our online ordering system.

My favorite (or least favorite) story focused on the customer spending time building their non-standard card in the system, waiting 5 minutes for the proof to display, then selecting the ‘add to cart’ button, only to have the whole system fail and force the computer to restart.

When we realized this was a big issue, we were given a mandate to reduce the complaints to zero and provide the customers with a more enhanced and efficient online experience.

Here’s what our customer experience should have looked like:

  • Global, 24/7 access to a trusted, easy-to-use web portal that supports custom requests
  • Rigid corporate brand identity is enforced, with flexibility to address custom needs
  • 3 day or less production turnaround time from “In-plant” service provider

Now, what was the actual customer experience?

  • Lack of trust in online service since the software was inefficient and unreliable due to technical limitations
  • Limited custom automation to help reduce transaction time
  • Extensive transaction times (15+ minutes) due to blocks in production and payment methods

The initial customer experience is where you can make or break a lasting relationship. It takes just one pleasant or unpleasant customer experience to gain or lose a valued connection. Data even shows that once a customer has lost confidence in your goods and services, it will take at least 7 efforts to win them back.

One we understood what could happen to our customers, we developed a plan to correct our problem.

The outcome:

  • Consistent customer experience through an omni-channel approach:
    • Our web portal, email campaigns, promotions, print, video, and events all carried same message
  • Improved user interface reduced transaction times from 15 minutes to less than 2 minutes through secure integration with corporate enterprise technology applications.
    • This allowed additional time for customers to search for other products, too!
  • Reduced touch points and increased automation which led to lower productions costs and faster delivery.
    • The use of templates and rules as well as some software intelligence allowed for minimal time on the customer side and the maximum efficiency on the service provider side. A win for both parties.
  • Oh, and did I mention BRAND PROTECTION

The bottom line:

Know your customer, use great technology, and leverage savvy marketing knowledge to reach your customers. You should have a virtual hand on their shoulder to assist and guide them to an experience that they will want to come back for again and again.

About the Author:

“Les Barker provides strategic and tactical technology solutions related to the management of rich media content. Les spent over 30 years at World Bank Group, helping to reduce global poverty through technical education, sustainability efforts, and research and development. His current work involves creation of rich media assets for projects that include Augmented and Virtual reality content.”