Organisations must take a holistic approach to customer experience, otherwise they run the risk that their weakest link will undermine the investments they have made in other areas.
Although products and customer touchpoints (such as call centres, websites and high street stores) have seen substantial investments over recent years, many organisations are not addressing non-customer facing aspects of their operations that have a significant impact on the customer experience.
Following a customer activity in to the organisations systems and processes
A few times I’ve been engaged by clients to follow key customer activities through an organisations systems to look for inefficiencies and opportunities for improving the customer experience.
It is fascinating to see how following a simple customer activity, such as opening a new bank account, reveals issues such as the incompatability of back-end systems, double-handling of data, etc – all of which result in delays in a customers ability to open a new account, and an unnecessary opportunity for errors to creep in to the process.
Virgin Mobile and the iPhone
These thoughts were sparked off by a visit to my local Virgin Mobile store. I have been trying for a number of weeks to get a new iPhone. Demand appears to be heavily out-weighing supply in Sydney at the moment, and after exhausting all the stores in my vicinity, two weeks ago I ended up resigning myself to going on a waiting list.
At the time of going on the list I was told that the phones should be available within one or two weeks.
Having patiently waited two weeks without any contact from Virgin Mobile, I decided to visit my local store this morning. I was informed that not only had I not moved up the waiting list, but that they had no idea when the next delivery of iPhone would be, nor any idea as to how many would be delivered.
Who should I vent my anger at? It appears wrong and unfair to take it out on the Saturday staff who, if they are to be believed, are dealing with a severe lack of information. The issue seems to be distribution. Does that mean it is actually Apple’s fault, or is there someone in between Virgin Mobile and Apple who I should be venting my anger at?
Organisations need to take ownership of the holistic customer experience
Upon reflection my frustration is definitely vented at Virgin Mobile. An organisation needs to take ownership of the experience their customers have. Ideally Virgin Mobile should have insight into the delivery dates from their distributors – it should be part of their contract.
In turn this information should made available to local Virgin Mobile outlets so they can pass on accurate information to customers, rather than having to rely on “we usually get them in every one or two weeks”.
But my local Virgin Mobile outlet isn’t completely blameless. They should take ownership of their customer’s experience, do everything they can do to obtain accurate information on stock delivery dates. Even if they can’t get this information, they should be proactive in contacting customers that have been waiting on the list for a period of time. I should get the feeling that they are on my side.
A simple call from my local outlet to explain that they are still awaiting delivery would give them an opportunity to convey a shared sense of the frustration for all that this weak link in the customer experience causes for all.
So my wait goes on. I long for the day when more organisations will deliver end-to-end services that offer a wonderful customer experience rather than individual gems in a sea of frustration.