A few weeks ago, I wrote about a particularly bad customer service experience. Since then, I feel like I’m encountering them everywhere. The importance of the customer journey cannot be underestimated in how it contributes to a brand’s value. Once a customer’s trust is violated, it can start to erode the value of the brand and dilute loyalty which leads to attrition. Whether the customer journey is online or offline, consistency matters. These situations illustrate why every brand should understand their own customers’ journey to ensure they don’t fall short when customers need them the most.
Following are a couple of situations I’ve recently encountered and thoughts on how they might have improved their customer brand experience.
My sister recently took an unexpected visit to the ER, resulting in referrals for additional tests at other facilities the hospital partnered with. Her attempt to schedule an EEG resulted in five phone calls – two to the ER and three to the neuro facility. The ER claimed their referral had been sent but neuro had no receipt of it. They even looked through the “hundred faxes” they’d received to verify. At no point, did either facility offer to help solve the problem on her behalf. She’s worked in the medical system her entire life and persevered to resolve on her own. But I’m guessing most people would have dropped out before getting an appointment.
Recommendation: Although the facilities are owned and operated independently, the patient should not be responsible for managing their inability to communicate with each other. The neuro facility could see her CT scan, but not the referral. It’s time to move into the digital age and transmit referrals electronically through a secure referral management software, rather than by fax. And the hospital’s ER team should have claimed ownership and contacted neuro on her behalf to avoid potentially serious consequences.
I visited a big box retailer to redeem a bunch of gift cards I’d been collecting throughout the year. While attempting to purchase an item in electronics, I overheard employees saying the company credit card site wasn’t working. Guess what else was affected? Their in-store gift card program. The employee checking me out could not have cared less. He tiredly tried to input the cards a couple of times then handed them back to me with a shrug and a “They’re not working. Try customer service. Maybe they’ll have better luck.”
Recommendation: I have a strong affinity to this retailer as I started my career and worked over a decade for them. And they usually live up to my high quality standards. In this case, however, the electronics employee should have realized he IS part of the customer service team. They could read the value of the cards, just not input them. If he wasn’t empowered to take off the card’s value from the purchase on his own, he should have contacted a manager who could. This break in the customer journey can be solved with better training for the employee or empowerment of the employee to do the right thing.
In both situations, the customer experience and journey was broken. The responsibility was on the customer instead of the company to ensure the continuity of a positive customer experience. My sister will continue to work for the hospital, and I’ll forgive my big box retailer. But, no matter what business you’re in, good customer service is crucial to maintaining a relationship with your customers. You might not lose a customer due to one bad encounter, but be assured, they will remember it. Maybe it’s time to map your brand’s customer journey.