Customer Experience – are we ‘In Synch’?

I am always astonished when I see a respectable, consistent integrated media campaign-be it with classical media (TV, print or radio) or online only to see the ‘wheels falling off the cart’ when it comes to a ‘Moment of Truth ‘. It almost seems like the left hand was not talking to the right hand in the company when it comes to the whole customer experience. In other words the customer facing departments are not In Synch or synchronized.

A moment of truth is that one magic moment where a company is evaluated – fairly or unfairly for the way its products perform, the way it interacts with the customer, the way it delivers its service or any instant that consumers come across a product/service.

I will always remember a speech given by Tom Peters (Passion for Excellence) where he was emphasizing a moment of truth by using a quote from an airline executive. The executive said ‘Tom, when passengers see a coffee stain on the tray table in front of them, they automatically assume that we have engine troubles.’
A bit extreme but if you follow the logic from the passenger’s point of view, the passenger is thinking ’ Well if they can’t at least take the time to clean the coffee stain, I hope that they are taking the time to service the engines…?’

Another example of moment of truth is when a fellow Romanian steps out his car to help you push your car out of the snow during our last snow storms. You certainly did not expect it but it gave you a renewed reminder on how hospitable Romanians can be when things are not going well.

Here’s my example. Someone very dear to me received this sms for an outstanding balance on her bank card:

Cod IDclient XX8644YY: La 06/02/2012 suma datorata este 67.41 RON. Restantele se raporteaza Biroului de Credit.

In English the translation is: Client code: XX8644YY, as of 06/02/2012 you have an outstanding amount on your bank card (owed to the bank). Unpaid sums will be reported to the credit bureau.

Context: Yearly fees were accumulating on the card which had not been used for quite some time principally because my friend has other cards and her main banking was done with other banks.
I assume that banks know that clients have multiple cards and accounts.

Assessment: First of all, total lack of politeness. No ‘Dear Mrs’…or ‘we would like to raise to you attention’…
Second no explanation – we go straight to the credit bureau.
Third: No warnings; this came ‘out of the blue’. No emails, no attempt to call and perhaps enquire as to why this was left unpaid or inactive. Perhaps there was some confusion; who knows what can happen when we call customers to get information or feedback!

I sound cynical (my Canadian heritage) but I am mostly disappointed as a marketer!
This bank which will remain nameless spends a tremendous amount of money on Above the line (ATL) advertising in TV, Print and outdoor with 3 Romanian sport figures.

I mean the visuals are nice, creative, welcoming, and frequent and judging by how long these 3 celebrities have agreed to promote the bank, I assume that the campaigns are working. In fact my friend held on to the card (albeit inactive) for that very reason…it had a celebrity on the card. Now that is powerful Marketing.

Result: My friend was upset with the message and she was not aware that the card had become inactive (I mean the last time I checked, we were all too busy to check to see how ‘active‘ we have been with some of our bank cards right!?). This whole matter was unbeknownst to her. She proceeded to call the bank and cancel the cards, rather…all cards, if this is how they treat customers. Ouch!

The solution:
All touch points and customer facing departments have to be in unison, like a classical music symphony. They need to follow the same music, the same beat and the same song book. Product Managers and Marketing communications folks busy trying to get new customers need to be attentive what the customer care staff or retention/loyalty or collections teams are sending to the customer via SMS. This is inexcusable.

Don’t spend money by swaying customers with nice ads with powerful icons unless you as marketer have complete control of all touch point messages. We don’t expect Marketing to actually make collection calls however any message, let me repeat ANY message to customers has to be consistent with the brand and what you are conveying to the market.

All customers bring value even if their revenue seemed insignificant. The value they bring is how well they will refer you or speak about how they were treated by your company even if the relationship between your company and the customer had to end. Do it gently.

Your homework
As the marketing leader emphasize upon your peers that interact in some way or another with customers such as Sales, customer care, retention/loyalty, collection, PR and operations that all messages to customers, have to be consistent. Get your team to collect all messages (‘canned’ or pre preprogrammed) that were sent to customers in the past and insist that all need to be reviewed by Marketing.

This may be a long laborious task but well worthwhile the time – you may uncover other ‘shockers’.

As the lead Marketer, make it a point to continuously communicate to all your peers that Marketing owns the messages to customers. By rallying your organization with this precious yet effective direction you will be on your way to ensuring that those moments of truth are fair ones.

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