A guide on the journey

Simplicity and transparency throughout the customer journey are the key to winning the customer’s confidence. So says Hilde Johannessen, service designer at the consultancy agency BEKK, who has been studying consumer experiences for four years.

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Hilde Johannessen, service designer at BEKK in Oslo, believes that clear agreements are essential if customers are not to be hit by unpleasant surprises.

In step with the increase in consumer power, the customer experience has become more and more important. To succeed in the face of competition, you must keep your promises and make things easy for customers every step of the way.

“It’s a question of understanding the customer’s expectations,” explains Hilde Johannessen, service designer at BEKK in Oslo. 

The experience as a whole is bigger than just the conventional points of contact. 

“It’s the sum of all interactions in all channels. But it also includes the expectations customers bring with them into the relationship.” 

When you have seriously low expectations of a brand, it doesn’t take much to leave you positively surprised. But any company that has put out a strong promise in its marketing must be able to deliver – or it risks losing consumer trust. 

As an example, Hilde Johannessen mentions digital food deliveries. In this case, it is absolutely essential that every aspect functions flawlessly – from food quality to the delivery itself. This also applies when third parties such as carriers are involved. Quality must be maintained from start to finish. 

Communicating clearly about the involvement of partners is also crucial to the customer’s peace of mind. 

“If you take out a loan and thought you were dealing with one party but receive the credit notification from a different player, the experience will leave you with a lot of concerns.” 

Strive for simplicity

Customers want to feel that they have control and insight. Therefore, you have to be transparent so that everyone knows which conditions actually apply. This makes simplicity a competitive advantage. One business area where this is particularly clear is the insurance industry, where customers – for obvious reasons – are extremely sensitive to unpleasant surprises. 

“If you think you’re insured but then find out that your insurance doesn’t cover a given situation, this comes across as a major breach of trust. It must be clear to customers precisely what is covered – and what isn’t.” 

If there are situations that the insurance doesn’t cover, the company must say so at the time customers are taking out the policy, rather than writing it in the fine print of a multi-page agreement. 

“It must be simple to see and to understand how it works.” 

Companies that take an agile approach and deal with problems as they arise get more satisfied customers than those which stand on their rights at any price. 

“Customers more often share negative experiences than positive ones, and they share them with more people. Therefore, it’s important to listen to customers and find out which parts work well – and which ones need improvement.” 

Repairing confidence

A fact that attracts little attention is that negative experiences often affect more people than just the customer. If you bought an insurance policy, your partner may also be affected if it doesn’t provide the coverage you thought it would. If you have to wait around for your meal, this may also affect your family and friends. 

“You need to see customer experiences in a broader perspective.” 

If you lose trust in a relationship, it will take a long time to get it back. As a company, you have to prove that you can deliver on your promises. 

“If the customer has a negative experience, take it seriously and try to rectify it as far as possible.” 

This applies in particular to customers with whom you have few interactions. If you buy a car, you probably do so rarely, and if something goes wrong, the company has few opportunities to repair the damage. However, if you build up a closer relationship with the customer, you have more occasions to rebuild trust and confidence. 

“You need to have different strategies depending on the service and relationship in question.” 

In order to improve trust, you have to understand the customer – understand what he/she is going through and constantly improve the experience.