Ensuring optimal customer experience at each customer touch point

My recent dealings with a well known high street electrical retailer has left me convinced of the importance of consistent customer experience across each customer touch point and throughout the entire customer journey. Many customers will rate their experience or relationship with a company in its entirety and not just according to each interaction; therefore it is essential that companies ensure consistency across all of their operations.

My story starts when my wife and I bought a 50” Plasma screen TV for our new extension, a not too cheap purchase, and a one I’d been talking my wife around to for quite some time. Being a northerner, I like a good deal so insist on shopping around (from my seat at my desk with my laptop), however that is where my bargain hunting stops … I “always” end up at the same retailer! I know they are not always the cheapest, but hell when you are talking about spending this kind of money, what does £20-30 matter? But I can’t explain it … their outlets are big and roomy (as my wife will testify I hate shopping, especially in small shops); they always have a lot of relatively knowledgeable staff on hand; they have the widest range of electrical goods; a cracking website; and good delivery service – you actually get to chose when they deliver rather than them telling you!

So, hearing me talk so highly of them, you may be asking what went wrong. Well, quite simply the TV! Within its first year we have had the engineer out three times, problem with the speakers and I won’t bore you with the details.

Each time the engineer has been responsive and knowledgeable, he obviously had a number of remedial steps he needed to make before on his final visit, he concluded that the problem remained and recommended that since we were approaching the end of our 1yr warranty we return the set and request a refund. This recommendation was all written up in his report which would then be referred to head office. This is the point at which our experience of dealing with this retailer (a relationship which has spanned some 10+ years) started to turn sour.

Head office have no record of the engineer’s final report, we are outside of our 1yr warranty, and despite several visits to the store and numerous promises of call backs, we are still no further forward. It leaves me wondering whether my experiences have been positive on account of the fact that I have never had a problem with any goods before and therefore not had to return anything – kind of like when you think you have a fantastic home insurance policy UNTIL you have cause to make a claim.

So this high street retailer provides a good range of products, good physical and online environment, knowledgeable in-store staff, good delivery process, but that “feel good factor”, that “emotional bond” that has led me to purchase from them at a premium over and above other suppliers is being slowly eroded by this last experience.

In terms of the customer journey I am right the way through to stage 5 having enjoyed a long-term relationship with the company, my propensity to refer others is optimal. I have found staff in the company’s stores to be friendly, attentive and knowledgeable, but staff in the company’s contact centre to be significantly less so – there is a clear disconnect between the two operations. Whilst the company’s processes are fine-tuned and efficient in the pre-sales / sales phase, they are clearly lacking in the post sales stage.

In today’s difficult climate customer retention is paramount, companies need to be maintaining their customers’ loyalty and transforming them into true brand advocates. In order to do this it is essential that the customer purpose is embedded into each and every part of their organisation, ensuring that the customer’s experience of dealing with them is optimal and consistent regardless of touch point and stage in the customer journey.

Will I get my money back or get a replacement TV? Of course I will. I know that the situation will finally be resolved, but as a long-term, high value customer why have I had to endure this?

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