I love to hear my parents tell stories from their younger days. One of my favorites is about an incident that happened to my mom, Karen, at camp as a little girl. She giggles as she recalls the story of a shortcut to get from one part of her campground to another. For meals or lights-out, kids would run from around the sprawling hills to return to their cabins and luckily enough, she and her friends had a sneaky way of crossing a shallow stream that separated their cabin from the common areas. Rock by rock, jump by jump, they could hop their way through the creek and always be first to arrive at their cabin.
However, one dark night running through the trees, they approached their shortcut and ran across the familiar path in the stream. One by one they fell into the chilly water and were completely soaked and the smell of watermelon filled the air. Unbeknownst to the campers, the cooks had run out of room in their refrigerators and placed all of the watermelon for that nights’ dessert in the cool shallow waters beside the cabin. In the dark, the tops of the stones and the tops of the watermelon were hardly distinguishable. The wet campers, shamefully walking up to the cabin smelling of watermelon, made for quite the story when they hit their bunks that night.
As customers we often know the hops, steps and jumps to get the best service from our airline, our bank or even a retail store. Furthermore, comparing all of the ways we receive customer experience to the stepping stones of a customer journey sounds really practical until someone moves the stones, changes the stones or alters their approach. These stepping stones (often called touchpoints or channels) are strategically placed and securely planted to give safe passage, yet the stepping stones of a customer journey are often not strategic at all. In fact, without proper orchestration, documents, emails, advertisements, websites, call centers and self-service, are competing for attention and more tumultuous than you might anticipate.
Here are a few:
- “Did you know more information is available online?”
- “Please download our mobile app!”
- “…or, simply press 9 for all other options.” (my favorite)
- “Only someone in the store can give you credit, sir.”
- “Please send us a DM with details and we’ll call you.”
- “I can’t see exactly what you see on your statement from my end.”
Advancements in AI are changing the game here. AI should reduce the amount of additional customer touches generated by their efforts, eliminate confusion, avoid broken processes, prevent high-cost channels and fuel customer obsession. Dr. Howard Lax with Directions Research mentioned in CustomerThink that, “Companies need to step beyond the type of inside-out thinking that wears blinders and sees the touchpoint experience as an end in-and-of-itself and recognize that customer interactions have meaning only in the context of the Journey to complete a Mission.”
So perhaps the better analogy for our future is to create a smooth bridge to connect our customer experiences and not the jump around approach that has caused this hamstringing. It is time for organizations to shift from the scattered stones placed awry in the chilly water to a well-connected, seamless experience that can serve customer preferences AND insure safe passage.
At OpenText™, we believe that AI, powered by OpenText™ Magellan™, AI-augmented analytics that combines open source machine learning with advanced analytics, enterprise-grade BI, and capabilities can be used to connect the customer journeys for today’s connected customer.
To learn more, download our latest eBook, “Delivering the continuous, connected customer journey” today. This eBook explains how customers are increasingly in control, with multiple channels with which to be heard, they are dictating how business should be communicating. As a result, customer experience is becoming the battlefield for digital business transformation. It is now an essential objective and a competitive differentiator.
Like Dr. Lax’s analysis, I’m tired of the distance between stones, their shape, and the uncertainty of their footing. The harder it is to do business with your organization means I’m not one step closer to loyalty; I’m one step closer to falling into the chilly water and walking away upset.