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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ridgewell

A Taste Of Two Cities – When The Customer Journey Goes From Theory To Practice

My friend & I went to one of his favourite restaurants in a town near where he works. When we arrived, the owner and staff obviously knew him well. We got a great table, even though we just wanted appetizers and drinks, despite it being a very busy Friday night.

The owner made a real-time relationship call – the lifetime value of my friend as a guest outweighed the lower average order of another transaction. He even made the effort to come over and chat a few times – he cared, and it showed. Will we return? Yes! Will we return with friends? Absolutely.

Closer to home, we often visit a restaurant that barely acknowledges us, despite many visits across many years. Going through the specials is a chore. Checking in on the table seems an annoying distraction. The food is great, but the experience is missing that joy and enthusiasm that makes a good night out great. Will we return? Yes – they have a good product. Could we be enticed elsewhere? Definitely.

While I’m sure the second business owner did not have a line in their business plan that says: “let’s deliver mediocrity and rely on a constant influx of new suckers to sustain my business”, our recent dining out experience is what springs to mind when I see increased attention on The Customer Journey.

I love the focus on the customer journey – a well-planned start to finish experience is really important. It’s the best way to be truly consumer centric.

But what elements of the journey need consideration?

It’s no secret that successful CRM initiatives need senior level buyoff. Without the belief, support and air cover from above, long-term investments in consumer-centricity are hard to get off the ground and sustain momentum, especially if they challenge the status quo.

There is another key area of support – the team that interacts with your consumer. No matter how good your journey plan / product / loyalty program / promotion (delete where applicable) is, the team that delivers the experience needs to have the same belief, passion and commitment as the journey’s designer.

So what’s the reality of your customer journey? What kind of experience do you really provide, and when was the last time you had a “relationships audit”?

Do you eat at your own restaurant, shop in your own store, search for your site, tap on your email links, be a secret shopper, call your customer service line, email your care team, order your own product and see how long it takes and what condition the package arrives in – and more?

Regularly compare the building blocks of the ACTUAL consumer experience with the perfect journey of your plans. Ask yourself:

Do stakeholders at all levels support you and believe wholeheartedly in what you do? Is any course correction needed?

Does your team fully understand your vision, and what is expected of them? How do you sustain interest? Do you get the feedback you need to hear? Are you testing to make sure you listen to your data vs. opinions?

Do you have strong relationships with your clients / agencies / staff? What’s great, what needs work? Are you innovating or resting on laurels?

Do your customers have the same view of you as the carefully thought out strategies? Does this expectation vary by segment from VIP to casual fan? Are you personalizing accordingly?

I may just ask those restaurant owners to do the same. What do you think?

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