There is a great deal of conversation currently on the customer journey. We read and hear a great deal about friction-less, fast and easy journeys for the customer. There is absolutely no doubt if you look at current research that these are very important elements to consider in designing the customer journey. However, there are other elements that are even more important.
Your mama told you: “A first impression is a lasting impression…and, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” For today’s wired and dangerous customers, that is especially true. Here is what is also true: “A last impression is a first memory…and, you may not get a second chance to make a good first memory.” Our role with customers is in fact to be memory makers! Yet, too few service providers think much about their last touch with customers.
Call center agents use a closed question—“Is there anything else I can help you with”—to signal to customers that the agent’s call handle time is far more important than the customer’s first contact resolution. Even service providers who decorate their in-store or online experience with lots of joyful TLC and attention to details, then make online check-out, paper invoicing, or the cash register encounter seem like it was concocted and managed by an IRS agent eager to do an audit.
How many service providers put Happy on the sales floors and Grumpy at the register? High-end customers even get to deal with Sleepy in valet parking…creating a negative memory with their last touch! How many organizations make customer bills – an important touch point with their customers—a boring, bureaucratic, and mind-numbing experience? How many companies play games with customers by making the “past due” amount a much larger font than the “pay now” amount potentially seducing “paying on time” customers into paying more than they should?
The last encounter with customers is sometimes their attempt to return merchandise. My wife and I recently visited three retailers to return merchandise which we “over bought” for an important social gathering. Two of the retailers made the return process a dream and one made it entirely negative. I am certain you know who will get our business next time and who we are telling folks to stay away from. The manner you handle customers’ unwanted items could determine if they ever return!
Sometimes, the last encounter is a departing customer seeking to close their account or sever their relationship. Many organizations have decided to make departing a tedious and painful experience for a customer already disappointed enough to depart! This is the point when customers are most ready to trash you on social media. And today, the great majority of customers review online comments before deciding to do business with you. Think about that! You lose before you even begin. Take special care of all disappointed or departing customers. They hold your brand reputation in their hands!
Let your next empathy walk with customers focus on the customer’s last encounter, not their first. Look at all the moments of truth toward the end of the service cycle that could turn a great service experience into an indifferent or disappointed memory. Get customers involved in teaching you about their “last touch” expectations—and, then find ways to exceed them. Keep your focus on ramping up the “sweet” on the “sweet sorrow” of your customers’ partings.
What kind of lasting impressions are you making today in your last touchpoint of your customers’ journey?
Be sure to check out Chip’s recent post here; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-ways-killer-meetings-chip-bell/