Customer Experiences Need Work Across Channels

Earlier this year, we published a report called Best And Worst Of Cross-Channel Design, 2009 that examined results from our expert review of 16 companies across four industries: Online travel agencies, auto insurers, footwear manufacturers, and discount retailers. We examined scenarios that included interactions online, with call centers, via email, and through IVR systems. The evaluations also looked at transitions across channels.

Here are the overall results from that analysis.

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As you can see, none of the 16 firms ended up with a passing score. Here were the highest scoring firm in each area:

  • Web site: Expedia
  • IVR: Nike
  • Phone agents: Orbitz and priceline.com
  • Email: Nike
  • Channel transitions: Expedia, Geico, and New Balance 

The cross-channel reviews graded experience across 57 criteria. More than 12 of the 16 companies failed these nine criteria:

  • Is text legible? (Web Site)
  • Is the task flow efficient (Web Site)
  • Is essential content available where needed? (Web Site)
  • Can the user complete her goals in all required channels? (Channel Transitions)
  • Are keyword-based searches comprehensive and precise? (Web Site)
  • Does the system provide essential content? (IVR)
  • Does the site help users avoid and recover from errors? (Web Site)
  • Does the site present privacy and security policies in context? (Web Site)
  • Do menu categories immediately expose or describe their subcategories? (Web Site)

The bottom line: There’s a lot of room for improvement

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

7 thoughts on “Customer Experiences Need Work Across Channels”

  1. This is really hard to get right, especially what you call Channel Transitions. For instance, JetBlue normally does a great job with their web site, but recently, trying to use my frequent-flier miles for one person on a trip for 3 people, I had to go back and forth between the web site and the phone center, calling 3 times. The phone center reps wouldn’t take care of the issue because they would have had to charge me $45 ($15 fee per person) despite the fact that you couldn’t complete the transaction on the web site without calling the phone center. Creating different capabilities for different channels, when coupled with different fees, provides a complex customer experience.

  2. Anecdotally I would concur with these findings. In my experience it is the siloed mentality of organsiations that cause this. Each silo have their own target to achieve and in some cases there is internal competition to be better than the other departments. Very little work is done to pull the Customer Experience together in most organsiations and even if there is some nominal appoint for cross functional teams, they do not have the teeth to get things changed.

  3. Why is it we are not surprised by your findings? Multi-channel leaders all groan when this is discussed, because they KNOW the integrated experience is, well, not very integrated. I see two underlying contributors:

    1) Too often there is no single, clear, shared-across-the-organization view of the ideal, or target experience. Smart, well-intended leaders work on lists of initiatives driven by their own view of “better” customer experience. And as Colin notes, we have plenty of focus on function or channel performance but not enough on the effectiveness of the experience.
    2) Customer experience is often considered only the domain of customer facing functions – an even in your research here it is the most accessible to evaluate. Yet the choices Nike or Orbitz or Geico make in product design and employee talent strategy and capital investment all had a hand in the experience you observed.

    When companies make all operating decisions to achieve a defined target experience they reap the best performance. In the meantime, we’ll deal with the clunky channel transitions you found.

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