Customer journeys and a holistic approach to feedback
Now that the customer-centric era has reached some level of maturity, we’re seeing an increasing number of organizations taking a more holistic approach to customer feedback — and tackling it as a cross-functional initiative. This is an extremely positive development for several reasons. First, the future of feedback is surely an enterprise-wide endeavor. And, while perhaps difficult initially, the end result is a win-win for customers, employees, and businesses alike.
More of our customers are talking to us about cross-functional needs for collecting and responding to feedback (and making results visible across the company), while only a few years ago, these instances were rare. We used to provide a survey solution for a marketing group, for example, or a customer care team. Now, we see broader, non-siloed feedback projects headed by a Chief Customer Officer or similar.
This is certainly not to say that the days of “surveys in a silo” are over; that’s nowhere near true. Individual teams still run plenty of one-off surveys and massage the data for their own good. But, there is a growing movement toward true enterprise feedback management. Many are doing this by examining their various customer journeys and using surveys and other feedback channels to gauge satisfaction, and ultimately smooth out any bumps in the road. Kudos to you, if you’re already doing that.
As you build your customer journey maps to drive a holistic feedback program, here are two often-overlooked considerations:
1. The whole journey is greater than the sum of its parts.
Surveying customers after individual transactions can show that they’re satisfied at each of those particular points. Yet, those same customers will report that they’re unsatisfied with the overall experience. Go ahead and scratch your head for a moment.
Research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) reveals that the complete customer journey from start to finish is what really matters, more than the individual transactions within it.
Working with a leading pay TV provider seeking to improve customer experience, HBR discovered: “It wasn’t the [TV provider’s] touchpoints that needed to be improved—it was the process as a whole. Most service encounters were positive in a narrow sense—employees resolved the issues at hand—but the underlying problems were avoidable, the fundamental causes went unaddressed, and the cumulative effect on the customer was decidedly negative.”
It’s easy to forget the cumulative effect when building our feedback programs. As you analyze your journeys and implement individual feedback channels to measure their effectiveness, remember the holistic approach. Real success can’t be measured by the actions of one or two departments. Consider ways to capture customer input regarding the entire experience.
2. All journeys are not created equal.
Some segments of the complete customer journey have greater impact on overall customer satisfaction. For example, your customer may be irritated by a pushy salesperson, but still make the purchase. On the other hand, poor experiences with service or support could cause them to end their relationship with you because they’re unable to use your product or service successfully, easily, consistently, etc.
In other words, it may actually be OK for the business to get lower feedback scores on the sales portion of the journey, but potentially devastating to get low scores in support. The point is that weighing all feedback equally is often misguided and misleading. To really improve business outcomes, you’ll need to get real about which sub-journeys pack the biggest punch if they’re perceived as difficult or unsatisfying to customers.
One final tip on knowing what parts of the customer journey have the biggest effect on customers: Ask them.
According to a recent expert blog on mycustomer.com, “The most successful [journey] maps are those supported by internal perceptions, then validated and refined based on actual customer feedback. And, they are either used in the context of a broader effort, and/or laser-focused on solving problems for a particular segment or channel… with the ability to leverage results to expand journey mapping as well as overall customer experience improvement efforts.”
So, support your enterprise feedback program with journey maps that identify the areas most ripe for improvement. Just remember as you analyze and respond to that feedback that it’s not always as straightforward as it may seem. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and all parts are not necessarily equal.