Customer Touchpoints Unknown

I just started watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown…I know, it’s on like season 20 or something…I’m not exactly an early adopter when it comes to television programming.

As I am pouring through the re-runs, I stumbled upon an episode where he is in Italy… and in the spirit of his show, I was looking forward to an authentic view into life in Sicily. Somewhere around the midpoint, he is on a three hour excursion to go diving for octopus. The trip starts off innocently enough, with video of the host swimming in pristine waters a combing over beautiful rock formations. Then things start to break down…

After what appears to be just a few short moments in the water with his “guide”…the boat next to them starts a poorly choreographed process of chucking frozen dead octopus into the water in what appears to be an attempt to create some type of magical experience for Mr. Bourdain. An experience where majestic sea creatures are at the ready for the show’s host to pluck right out of the ocean and hauled up to the local restaurant to be prepared…an Italian culinary experience for the ages.

But alas, our television host is left disappointed…maybe even disgusted by the enormous gap that has formed between expectations of an authentic experience and reality of the three hour tour. And unfortunately, customer experiences similar to Mr. Bourdain’s play out by the thousands each and every day.

Everyone seems to claim that they offer an exceptional customer experience. They attempt to at some level construct a customer journey, an outline of a funnel as described in text books that is going to create an experience to be hailed above all others.

They show you smiling faces of imaginary tele-sales team members standing by to take your call. Or maybe even “authentic” tour guides and their boats ready to take you on a fishing trip like you’ve never experienced before.

But how does an accounting person really feel when they receive your invoice. How does a line of business contact respond when the get an unsolicited phone call from your team? How does the cable television host feel when a frozen dead octopus caucus rains down on him from a boat floating above?

The customer rarely follows the fancy funnel you learned about in your MBA.

So what really drives customer experience?

The foundation of any great customer experience is user touch points. Most organizations think they have their touch points covered. Most companies are wrong…here’s a quick list of things to check to see how covered you are:

Personas: Start with your customer. Who are all of the different types of people that engage with your team on a regular basis (hint…we’re not just talking about the buyer). What are they trying to accomplish? We like to put a “face” on the people we engage with through the use of Empathy Map and Persona templates.

Inventory: Listing out all the ways that people interact with you. See, hear, and engage with you at all levels in the organization. Do you have the right numbers and types of touches and are the spread across the full breadth of the customer journey? Things you control and those you don’t. Online or in person. A good template to start with isHubspot’s Content Audit Worksheet…a few modifications should provide you exactly the form you need to get a grip on your current touch points.

Brand: What do you want your customer or potential customer’s to feel when they engage with your team? And maybe equally importantly, what don’t you want them to feel. We’ve used the Zag 17 Step Branding template in the past to help identify ideal brand positioning.

Audit: The fun part! Does your inventory match what your aspirations are for your brand? Both in type of content as well as quality? Put everything out on a table and put post-it notes on what passes the test and what fails. We like using a big glass wall in one of our meeting rooms as a working wall where we put all the content up aligned with different points in the customer journey…the gaps jump out as huge swaths of unpopulated glass or red post-it notes consolidated in a point in the journey.

Hone in on the gaps from the audit. These are the sum of the touchpoints that are poor or completely absent that can make the difference between a fantastic experience for your users and one that is a sum of random announces and missed opportunities. These gaps are what ultimately made Mr. Bourdain a very unhappy customer…when he really didn’t have to be.

Don’t make your customers unhappy when they really don’t have to be…stop throwing frozen octopus…

Jeff Salanco leads the marketing organization for Tech Data Cloud where he works with teams focused on designing and executing innovative partner engagement strategies across a variety of technology segments. These initiatives enable companies of all sizes to grow by leveraging the IT channel to amplify their brand and enhance their ability to deliver technology solutions to the market.