Are Your Customers on the “Happy Path” or the “Unhappy Path?”

Customers are not always right…we misinterpret prices, we rarely take the time to read terms and conditions and we are fast to blast on social media when things don’t go our way.

We have high expectations and demands…we are picky…OK, I am picky.

In today’s digital age, customers are just a click away from finding your competitor…  So companies need to do everything to provide an experience and fair value that exceeds customer expectations.  MCG believes that this is more than looking at user engagements, supply chains, and page views.  It’s about ensuring that every touchpoint is exceptional– not just obvious interactions.  This can be a challenge and opportunity for businesses – looking beyond the very traditional scopes… and sometimes that’s uncomfortable to do.

Let’s go deeper into examining customer experience.  Companies typically recognize that multiple facets of the business need to be considered and addressed. Clearly, Marketing, Branding, Sales and Fulfillment are operations which most of us as consumers encounter…I call these the ‘happy path’ experiences. 🙂 Most of the time, the customer gets what they want, for the price they expect, and in the timeframe in which they need it.  These processes are the preferred, orchestrated experiences, and, are deliberate and intentional on the company’s part.  This is the happy path. 🙂  What the company promised was delivered.

What is often overlooked is the ‘unhappy path’.  🙁  No one wants problems and good companies do everything they can to avoid them.  But problems happen – shipping issues, damages, stock availability, misaligned expectations – they all unintentionally happen.  MCG recommends having a solid plan to address and delight customers when they have traveled down an unhappy path.

The unhappy path situations are defining moments.  Addressing a customer complaint, regardless of whether it’s the company’s fault or not, is an opportunity for the company to shine.  Experience matters so much more than a great product, service or price.

Nearly 90% of customers say that once they have a poor customer experience, they look to another provider the next time they need a product or service.  Yes, 90%! Contrast that with less than 20% who say they’d switch for mere dissatisfaction of a product or service.  A 70 point difference is not only impactful, but demonstrates that experience is indeed the new competitive battleground.

Retention is critical for many reasons, but let’s focus on cost for a moment.  Research reports show that the average cost is up 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer vs. retaining one.  Think about that large differential when deciding where to invest and prioritize efforts.  In other words – don’t lose customers – they’re 7 times more expensive to replace. MCG helps clients with customer retention strategies across several industries.

To keep customers, successful companies must pay attention to the “unhappy path,” just as much as they do their intentional, “happy path.”  Numerous studies consistently cite that by 2020, over 80%+ companies will compete on experience alone.  Not only price, not your merchandise selection, not digital capability alone…but the personal experience across the buyer journey.  They will judge how you handle them as customers.  Are you meeting their expectation of “a valued customer” or, did you make the checkout easy?

Most of us know that bad experiences happen from time to time (and if you’re like me, you are a magnet for it).  As a consumer, I’m not so concerned about the poor experience itself as I am about ensuring that the companies I choose to do business with are working with me the right way to resolve it.  And, I know that takes work.  As you read this, your “happy path” and “unhappy path” customers are making decisions right now.

Companies who actively address customer experiences typically start with understanding their data.  Who are my customers?  What are they experiencing?  What’s driving them to leave?  What policies, rules, procedures, channels, paths, interactions, messaging and communications are we putting them through?  Understand those (and many more data points MCG can assist in identifying for your company) to begin to lay the foundational battle plans.  We recommend that you prioritize the pain points and implement robust strategies that truly serve your customers.

How can you start?  Engage your customers and your data.  Listen to customer feedback, harness all the data available and gain valuable insights via data analysis will demonstrate an accurate, current state.  Gather your key data discoveries, assessments and analysis to develop a comprehensive customer experience plan – for both the “happy paths” and “unhappy paths.” Acknowledging both areas will help you take the necessary steps to address those poor experiences with potentially needed process improvements, budget allocations, and innovations. We recommend that you prioritize the pain points and implement robust strategies that truly serve your customers. Finally, trust that your data will show you where you excel, and fall short.

Companies who fully address poor customer experience issues and resolve them retain 10 times more customers. That is how you drive genuine loyalty.  We know customers will find themselves on the ‘unhappy path’ at some point.   I would like to help you move them to the “happy path” of engagement with your company.

MCG has done this before, and, we can do the same with your company.

Contact Craig Sobol