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Building A Platform
When designing a new customer experience, you need first to build a successful platform. Building a platform starts with developing a meaningful marketing message. Not a lengthy vision statement that establishes a common goal for the organization, but a message that simply and cleanly tells your customers about your service.
Great platforms also elicit an emotional response from your customers. To understand what would create an emotional reaction from your customers, you have to understand the customer’s world and how they use services within their business processes. What is meaningful to your customers when they call in for support? What is it that creates a meaningful experience? Fast service, rapid restoration, communication, accountability, or all of the above?
Check Out the Competition
Take a moment to visit the websites of the leading IT firms in the industry. What is the very first message that is conveyed to you as a customer? Does it elicit an emotional response? What is the first emotion you have? Is the website clean or cluttered? What is the very first thing your eye sees when you hit the homepage?
Here are the sites I tested and what I found the message and elicited an emotional response:
Apple: www.apple.com (Promoting the New Apple Watch)
- Message: Experience
- Emotion: Serene
Google: www.google.com (Simple search box)
- Message: Feel lucky?
- Emotion: Spacial
Microsoft: www.microsoft.com (Promoting Surface Pro)
- Message: Surface
- Emotion: Work
I wouldn’t say that any message I found on any of the sites was prominent on the page. On Apple’s site, they are now focused on promoting the experience of using Apple products. The number one thing I noticed on Google’s front page was the lack of clutter – begging me to type in what I want to find and search. Microsoft’s front page was the most cluttered and featured two Surface tablets. My eyes kept jumping from one to the other not able to focus on one single object.
The message of the company is important because what the company does and how it distinguishes itself from competitors drives the way that customers view and interact with the company and the support organization. Now let’s evaluate the support message from each of the same companies. Apply the same methods. What is the message? What is the first emotion you feel?
Apple: http://www.apple.com/support/ (Features two people who look like Apple geniuses)
- Message: Welcome
- Emotion: Friendly
Google: http://https://support.google.com (Couldn’t locate an option for support from the main page from any of the menus, then I thought, “hmmm type in Google Support” and it took me to search results where the support site was the third option)
- Message: Help
- Emotion: Playful
Microsoft: http://support.microsoft.com/ (Features a simple search box, looks a lot like Google but with slightly more clutter)
- Message: What can we help you with?
- Emotion: Caution
First, let’s look at the ease of finding the support page. From Apple’s main webpage, there is a menu item for support, and with one click I found the support page. On Microsoft’s website, I had two options immediately visible. From the main menu at the top of the page, I had to choose a product first in a pull-down menu then it would take me to a support site for that product. From the secondary menu about mid page on the home page, there was a button for support that took me to the generic page with the search box. I much more preferred the simple one-click redirect to the support page on the Apple page. From Microsoft, I immediately have to choose a product, and I found this experience less intuitive. Clicking on the single-click option led me to a page that was so different than other pages on the Microsoft site I thought that the page had stalled on loading and the graphics didn’t appear. Both organizations have great support; I have no doubt. But I preferred the one-click simplicity and landing page for Apple’s support.
As for finding Google’s support page, because there was no menu at the top of the page which we are accustomed to seeing on every webpage, I have to admit that at first, I was pretty lost. I searched all the menus and kept thinking it has to be easier than this. When I started over again on the home page, and then it dawned on me “If I can’t find it, maybe Google can.” I honestly felt a little silly on how simple it was once I thought to search for the support site, but then I wondered if everyone makes that intuitive leap when they are having issues with Google and need to get to the support site. Once there, the branded Google message was very clear and clean, simple icons for the various types of support. The use of the icons makes it playful.
Easy to Navigate, Easy to Find
It should not be complicated or non-intuitive for your customers to find your support site. Once there, organizations need a clean and simple interface that speaks “We are here for you.” In recent workshops that I have taught, I had two companies who attended who had simple, clean messages that not only elicited an emotional response but also had that “stick” -ability, meaning that you can use it and brand it across all customer touchpoints and it is both memorable and identifiable.
The first was almost ten years ago. I was teaching a workshop on auditing the support organization. One woman volunteered her organization’s message, and it immediately elicited an emotional response:
Fix it and have fun!
I think the reason why I liked that message was that it not only had a focus on the customer but also on the support analyst. The organization was striving to provide the best possible service but also have fun in the process. Since the job of the analyst is often repetitive and challenging the focus externally and internally is a good thing. To provide good service, the analysts need to enjoy their work. As for “stick”-ability, I still remember it ten years later.
The second message came just this month in a customer experience workshop I was facilitating. We had an exercise to develop a simple message, and while there were many “good” responses, there was one that elicited an emotional response and was more memorable.
It’s a new world.
I liked this especially as a re-branded message, conveying to customers that we are new and different and we will be better than we were in the past. But it even conveys the ever-changing world of technology and how we are embracing technology in new ways at work and our personal lives. Again, I could immediately envision marketing materials, a website, every touchpoint branded with this simple, yet meaningful message.
Your support site and touchpoints with your customers are your first opportunity to create an impression that will linger in your customer’s minds. A simple, yet meaningful message is important – one that can be branded and used to integrate across all customer touchpoints and within the incident management and request fulfillment processes.
Make a Great First Impression
What impression do you make on your customers? Try this simple exercise on your website. What message and emotion do you elicit? If you were the customer would you find it easy to find the site? Would you like the message? If you were experiencing an issue and frustrated, would the site and message begin to create ownership and convey confidence to your customers?
If not, remember this, “It’s a new world.” Our customers have options. We need to encourage our customers to come to us for support instead of the many options available to them via the Internet. We need to create a meaningful and intentional customer experience.
About the Author:
Julie is a dynamic, engaging change agent who brings authenticity, integrity, and passion to practitioners worldwide. Through her books, articles, speaking, consulting, and teaching — her purpose is to spark change in the world with thought-provoking dialog and interaction. Julie has a B.S. degree in computer science from The Ohio State University, a MaED from the University of Phoenix, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Management and Organizational Leadership in Information Systems & Technology from the University of Phoenix. She is an ITIL Expert, Certified Help Desk Director, and Certified Governance IT Professional.
Julie captivates audiences at conferences worldwide on topics of authentic leadership, business strategy, knowledge management, organizational culture, and innovation.
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