What do my worn-out running shoes, marathon training and a visit to Stockholm have to do with a positive omnichannel customer experience? Let me tell you. They all got me thinking about the value of a positive omnichannel customer experience.
A few months ago, I travelled to Stockholm to give a presentation at a large Nordic company. I used to live in the city for several years a while back when I was helping to establish Ennova's Stockholm office. So it still feels a bit like coming home when I land at Arlanda Airport. I'd packed my running gear to give myself a little break after work. And to get a chance to see how the city had changed since I'd lived there.
The worn treads on my running shoes revealed that they aren't just used when I'm on business trips. I'm currently training for a marathon, so the number of miles I run increases week by week. As I ran through my old "hometown", I therefore decided I could use a new pair of running shoes. So when I got back to my hotel, I went straight to my laptop and found the manufacturer's website. I clicked my way to the desired shoes and added them to my cart. At that moment, my phone rang - it was my five-year-old daughter calling to say goodnight. By the time I hung up, I'd forgotten that I was in the middle of placing an order. Instead, I realized how hungry I was, so I grabbed a quick shower and ran down to the restaurant.
The positive customer experience
The following day, I was scheduled to continue on to Helsinki. Before boarding the plane, I checked my email on my cell phone. There was a message from the manufacturer - they just wanted to remind me that I had items in my shopping cart and that my purchase hadn't been completed. They kindly asked whether I had any questions regarding the products and informed me that I could receive my new shoes by the end of the week if I placed my order by the following day.
Since I'd left my worn-out shoes in the hotel room in Stockholm, I found this to be a fantastic service. On top of that, I had a date with my running partner that weekend, and I couldn't go running without shoes. So I completed my order and boarded the plane.
That evening, I checked my iPad and found another message from the manufacturer: My order is on its way, and I can expect to receive it on Friday. And it did arrive on Friday, just as promised. Influenced by my profession, my first thought was: a seamless, personal and consistent customer experience - exactly how it should be!
So what's my point with this little story? Besides marking myself as an easy marketing target (which seems a pretty fair label in this particular category), there is a deeper meaning. The story illustrates an area that ranks high on the strategic agendas of a great many companies. Namely, their ability to provide professional and consistent customer experiences across channels and touchpoints.
In my work with customer experience management, it's clear that companies are focusing more on their cross- or omnichannel strategies. There are many different definitions, but from the customer's point of view, it's primarily about how personal, seamless and consistent the customer experience is across channels and/or touchpoints. In other words: Are you "simply" available across channels? Or do you actually let the customer's behavior and experiences follow the customer journey through the company's touchpoints and shape the customer's experience?
Not only do companies today need to be accessible through different channels, they need to provide a consistent customer experience across the company's channels - with a personal touch. As technology allows us to gather relevant data and behavior, it's becoming increasingly important to know your customer experience performance in the individual touchpoints, channels and overall.
This is especially true, because many sectors are developing more and more professional self-service solutions, where the customer can choose for themselves what and when. There can be no doubt that the competition for customers today is to a great extent a matter of designing the best customer journeys and living up to your customer promise at every touchpoint.
This ultimately breeds loyalty
In a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, I read about "Competing on Customer Journeys", where one of the focus areas was "The rise of the journey product manager" - that is, how companies are increasingly gearing their organizations to deliver excellent customer journeys and experiences. This is an extremely interesting trend, and by virtue of my job, I can only confirm the fact that this area has gained much more focus in recent years.
Now, a few months after my trip to Stockholm, I'm still running in my (no longer quite so) new shoes, and I'm extremely satisfied with the experience I had with the manufacturer. Because of my work, I've reflected on how a positive customer experience influences my loyalty and, especially, my own buying behavior.
The other day, my wife asked me, with a twinkle in her eye, whether it was about time I clear out some of my old running clothes? She had noticed that new packages kept arriving with the same manufacturer's logo as my running shoes. I smiled, a bit embarrassed, and refrained from telling her that there was yet another package on the way. I think that says it all.