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Customers are emotional people. A bad experience can leave a sour taste in their mouths, and conversely, an excellent experience can leave them longing to come back for more. Customer journey mapping can make all the difference in this respect; brands need to realise that the art of perfecting the consumer’s interaction is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are a number of stops along the way that can prove critical to the individual’s perception of the company.

Minimising frustration

In journey mapping, these ‘stops’ are known as touchpoints – the key moments where a customer comes into contact with an organisation, and the ones that are most likely to provoke an emotional response. When companies take the time to walk in the consumer’s shoes, and journey from touchpoint to touchpoint, they gain a unique perspective, seeing things from the point of view of the individual and gaining an understanding of how certain processes affect them. This might take the form of an interaction on Twitter, or maybe a telephone conversation. The customer may find themselves being led through a myriad of different departments as the company seeks to solve their problem, and the individual may have to relay the same information numerous times, leading to understandable frustration.

In this respect, a savvy brand would recognise that the optimum approach is to deal with the customer’s issue at the point of first contact. This is what companies such as first direct have been able to do successfully. It has trained its employees to such an extent that they are knowledgeable enough to handle problems on the spot, without having to pass the person to a higher authority. Invariably, first direct workers have autonomy; they can make ‘judgement calls’ without having to seek authorisation from a line manager, or a different department. This saves time for the consumer, and leads to a more seamless and efficient customer experience. Moreover, it helps to transform the individual into a ‘promoter.’ If they have a great interaction with a company such as first direct, then they will doubtless feel more positively about the brand, and will thus ‘promote’ it amongst their peers.

As such, first direct stands as a testament to the success of this approach, achieving a number two ranking in the UK with an excellent CEE score of 8.26.

A genius idea

The in-store experience is also an important touchpoint in customer journey mapping. For Apple Store, which ranks at number 14 in the UK, the physical outlets have enabled employees to forge a much more personalised customer experience, and indeed the brand scores significantly well in this pillar, achieving a very respectable 8.20.

And in the race for customer experience excellence, this is one factor that can certainly set a brand on the path to gold. The ability to tailor the interaction to the specific needs of the individual is an enviable one, and it’s an ability that Apple Store appears to have in spades. One of the key elements to this success is its creation of the Genius Bar, which is the brand’s on-site troubleshooting service. Manned by a knowledgeable team of ‘Geniuses,’ customers are invited to meet with one of them at an Apple Store, where they collect the user’s system information, answer any questions, and discuss repair options and any applicable charges. These consultations are relatively quick, lasting around 15 minutes, and there is even the possibility of some hardware problems being mended on the spot. Indeed, one person noted how “customer-focussed” the employees seemed to be, whilst another individual praised the “brilliant service” and “friendly, knowledgeable staff.”

Initiatives such as the Genius Bar are successful because Apple Store is empathetic. The retailer understands that its customers have invested relatively large sums of money in their devices, and it appreciates how frustrating – and worrying – it can be when they go wrong. The Genius Bar is the antidote to these frustrations and worries, and is what makes Apple’s physical store such a strong touchpoint. This is the kind of strength and agility that customer journey mapping can deliver and, once implemented, it invariably propels brands into a higher class of CX runners. For any companies with plans of ‘going for gold,’ it is a very desirable place to start.

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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