• Michael Brandt

Is the result all that counts or does the journey to get there matter also?

Updated: Mar 21

Some years ago, I was responsible for a service sales operation for large equipment used on diesel engines. Routine service on larger products was generally planned well in advance, however for smaller products the demand for service was often more immediate, i.e. a phone call from the customer saying "When can I bring my equipment in for a service?". We had a very successful operation and we were expanding rapidly. We were hiring more engineers and they were working at capacity immediately they joined. But, despite our success, there were grumblings in the marketplace from dissatisfied customers and we were unable to pin down the reason. Our product was good, our service quality was excellent and the availability of spares was second to none. Generally, we were able to give customers service dates with little lead time. So what were our customers unhappy about?


We had a workshop bringing all involved staff together. We dissected the whole process inside-out and back-to-front. We discovered that our service sales staff, when responding to service requests for smaller equipment, were playing it safe, looking on the scheduling board, and sometimes giving customers dates 3 weeks or more away. Naturally customers were unhappy about having to wait so long. After the salesperson had hung up, they would have a word with the workshop manager who, more often than not, would tell them that they could get the smaller job done much sooner as they would have downtime between larger jobs that wasn't necessarily on the scheduling board. The salesperson would then call the customer back with the improved date. Naturally, the customer was delighted, but the aggravation of having initially been given such a long wait tended to linger. 


As a result, we instructed sales staff to take note of the service request and to inform the customer that they would get back to them shortly with a date. After consulting with the service manager they would then give the better date immediately, avoiding the customer being initially frustrated with a long delay. Happily, the grumbling in the market ceased immediately. 


On a personal level, some time ago, I had to return a product to a well-known Swedish retailer of flat-pack products. The product quite clearly had a manufacturing defect. I was told to go and eat a hot-dog or have a coffee while the customer service representative spoke to the supervisor. When I returned the CSR gave me a 15 minutes lecture, telling me all the reasons why I was probably to blame for the defect. I was getting exceedingly angry. Then, out of the blue, the CSR told me that I was getting a refund! I was still exceedingly angry, very surprised, and actually not quite sure how I was expected to react (other than take the money and leave before the CSR found more reasons to blame me!). Looking back, the fact that I got a full refund is not what caused me to remember the incident. I remember that incident because the CSR made me extremely angry, and the incident comes to mind every time I consider buying something from that particular company.


Both these anecdotes demonstrate clearly that the result is one thing, but the journey to get there is far more important. Even a good result is not effective if the journey to achieve it is bumpy. Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is intended to remove these bumps in the road. Analyzing the customer in some depth and the customers' journeys allows a company to ascertain the customer pain points, find solutions and prioritize improvements. Customer journey maps are dynamic, just as the market is. They need to be reviewed and updated regularly.


By carrying out a Customer Journey Mapping exercise, you can ensure that not only will your customer get the result they want, but they will achieve it with the least possible pain and effort! And, more importantly, they will come back for more.


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