In most B2B service organizations, the key performance indicators (KPI’s) are based on reducing customer’s interaction time or making money.  The thinking is that short interaction time means higher customer satisfaction and less cost; and this thinking is correct.  But, not having the interaction at all is priceless!

Think about this – if retail stores offer pleasant sales people, attractive store layout, and the ability to touch and try on alternatives then how come we all flock to Amazon, Rue La La, and all the other ecommerce sites?  Because on-line shopping eliminates the round-trip drive, the hassle of the crowds (on Saturday or holidays) and the fawning salespeople trying to sell us stuff we neither want nor need.  And we can return stuff without making the same trip a second time.

What about business travel? How many times have you said (or thought) “Why am I on this airplane?  I could have handled this with a videoconference and saved the cost and the wear and tear on my body.  I could be sleeping in my own bed instead of an airport hotel.”  Ugh!

In our efforts to increase customer satisfaction, we are focusing on removing stress, hassle, and frustration for each interaction (touchpoint) the customer has with the organization.  Here are a few examples:

  • We invest in reducing caller wait time and increasing first call resolution
  • We institute procedures to make it easy to send in a warranty repair and make sure we minimize the total time it takes for the repair and return
  • We add field technicians to reduce equipment downtime
  • We invest in remote diagnostics to reduce the pressure a software bug induces in our end-users

But, not having to do something is usually better than doing something well.  Here is how McKinsey put it:

“To maximize customer satisfaction, companies have long emphasized touchpoints.  But doing so can make customers seem happier than they actually are and divert attention from the bigger, more important issue: the customer’s end-to-end journey.”

And the goal is not to make the journey easy, it is to make the journey unnecessary.

Here are some examples:

You send your customer some consumable parts and she calls and complains that they are not what she ordered.  Your agent tells her to keep them and she will send out the correct part for next day delivery and she will not be invoiced for the incorrect shipment.  Sure, not sending the wrong item was the objective but the “simple” solution at least minimizes the hassle of repacking the wrong items, shipping them back, exchanging invoices and credit notes, and hoping the correct items will arrive it time to not impact her operation.

A customer calls your help desk with a problem.  It is resolved in about 15 minutes.  The agent then says, “If you have a few more minutes, I would like to make sure the software is the latest revision and your settings have not changed since it was last upgraded.”  The customer agrees and the agent finds that a setting had changed and would no doubt cause a problem down the road. With the customer’s permission, the setting was changed and the next call was avoided!

For years, the process of installing your products was “painful.” The company studied each step in the process and determined that a pre-delivery inspection of the install location could reduce both time and expenses.  The company added a step in the selling process and, as a result, was not only able to head-off problems before the occurred, but was able to sell additional options which helped the end user achieve the value he purchased long before he expected.  Major win!!

As you go through your customer journey mapping exercise, keep your eyes and ears opened for the opportunity to totally eliminate steps (and interactions).  Everyone wins!!