There is a great deal of conversation currently on the customer journey. We read and hear a great deal about friction-less and easy journeys for the customer. There is absolutely no doubt if you look at current research that these are two very important elements to consider in designing the customer journey.
However, there is another element that is even more important.
Your mama probably 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 operators use a closed question—“Is there anything else I can help you with”—to signal to customers that the operator’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 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 check-out register? High end customers even get to deal with Sleepy in valet parking… creating a negative memory with their last touch!
How many utilities make customer bills—sometimes their only touch point with their customers—a boring, bureaucratic, and mind numbing experience? Is it any wonder that fewer than half of utility customers indicate they read their bill inserts? Most assume the reading on the “bland-meter” for the insert likely matches the reading they put on their bill. 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. The manner in which you handle their unwanted item could determine if they ever return! Sometimes the last encounter is even 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! tweet this
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?
For more on making great customer impressions, be sure to catch John’s recent post on First Class Service!