A great customer experience!An area of marketing that I’m very passionate about is pro-active management and creation of the customer experience.

In my previous life(!) when I worked at the European HQ for Avis car rental, I was customer and brand champion for the business and one of the projects I headed up, was reviewing and improving the customer experience at every touch.

I worked closely with the IT and Operational areas of the business to provide customer insight and marketing feedback to assist in re-designing and improving the rental agreements given to customers, introducing a new kerbside car return service and improving the existing speed of service programme, Avis Preferred. These changes were based on real-life customer insight using research and by identifying the ‘pain’ points that our customers were experiencing.

The diagram below is a simplified summary of the Avis Customer Journey, identifying the key customer touch points:

A positive customer experience!

Customer touch points are critical and these ‘moments of truth’ either help to build or undermine your business brand.

Map your customer journey…

You can develop a similar map of the major touch points you have with your customers.

Once you have plotted these stages in the customer journey, you can identify the ‘pain’ points for your customers e.g. when they call your office/shop/helpline do they always get through straight away?, or does your website checkout and payment system use minimal steps and work smoothly?, and how quickly do you despatch a product or follow-up with a service call?

Look at your customer communications – review your emails and see if you provide all the information and help the customer would expect. Can you add content to help assist with queries, common problems or head-off potential calls to your business?

Try and think like a customer, putting aside your set business processes and operational constraints. It helps to focus on the touch points that have greatest customer impact, sometimes these aren’t sexy areas of your offering. Too many companies focus on the fancy stuff when they don’t even get the basics right!

Learn from the big boys…Tescos are great at this. They identified that queuing for the checkout was a major customer pain point (not rocket science agreed!) however they then launched their ‘one-in-front queue’ promise to customers. This was advertised heavily and staff trained accordingly to deliver the desired customer experience, and in turn strengthening their brand promise of ‘Every Little Helps’. Sometime the little things do really help!

These so called ‘hygiene factors’, like queuing for the supermarket checkout or the rental agreements in the case of Avis, are not big sexy marketing initiatives or advertising campaigns in themselves – they are simple ones but they mean a lot to customers and actually have a large impact on how these brands are perceived, positively or negatively.

When did you last think about how good the experience is for your customers, at the touch points they have with your business?