In our research and consulting on customer journeys, we’ve found that organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction. They also discover more-efective ways to collaborate across functions and levels, a process that delivers gains throughout the company.
Consider a leading pay TV provider we worked with. Although it was among the best in the industry at managing churn, it faced a maturing market, heightened competition, and escalating costs to keep its best customers. Churn was a familiar problem, of course, and the typical reasons for it were well understood: Pricing spurred some customers to leave, while competitors’ technology or product bundles lured others away. The common ways to keep customers were also well known, but they were expensive, including such things as upgrade ofers, discounted rate plans, and “save desks” to intercept defectors. So the executives looked to another lever— customer experience—to see if improvements there could reduce churn and build competitive advantage.
As they dug in, they discovered that the firm’s emphasis on perfecting touchpoints wasn’t enough.
The company had long been disciplined about measuring customers’ satisfaction with each transaction involving the call centers, field services, and the website, and scores were consistently high. But focus groups revealed that many customers were unhappy with their overall interaction. Looking solely at individual transactions made it hard for the frm to identify where to direct improvement eforts, and the high levels of satisfaction on specific metrics made it hard to motivate employees to change.
As company leaders dug further, they uncovered the root of the problem. Most customers weren’t fed up with any one phone call, feld visit, or other interaction— in fact, they didn’t much care about those singular touchpoints. What reduced satisfaction was something few companies manage—cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time.
Take new-customer onboarding, a journey that typically spans about three months and involves six or so phone calls, a home visit from a technician, and numerous web and mail exchanges. Each interaction with this provider had a high likelihood of going well. But in key customer segments, average satisfaction fell almost 40% over the course of the journey. It wasn’t the touchpoints that needed to be improved—it was the onboarding 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 efect on the customer was decidedly negative.
Remedying matters would add signifcant value, but it wouldn’t be easy: The company needed a whole new way of managing its service operations in order to reinvent the customer journeys that mattered most.