Getting the customer journey right

With the retail market set to open in 2017, customers are, naturally, getting anxious. The Consumer Council for Water recently published phase two of its research called ‘Unchartered Waters’, and this was consistent with phase one findings.

What are customers’ principle concerns?

These are the key findings about what UK-based business customers of various sizes told the Consumer Council for Water:

  • All were aware of the forthcoming market reform, but their information had come from peers/colleagues rather than the government or water industry;
  • Lessons must be learnt from the energy and telecoms sectors, where small companies struggle to negotiate the best deals and larger businesses require specialist procurement teams;
  •  There is opposition of automatic rollovers of contracts and hidden charges. Customers do not want to see either of these, but they do want clear exit clauses, notice periods and transparent costs;
  • Contracts for smaller companies should be simple to understand, and easy to compare;
  • There is scepticism that businesses will actually want to switch water suppliers.

How will companies be pressured to enhance their service offering?

Changes being put in place, through retail separation, aim to deliver improved levels of service for customers – therefore, easing pressures resulting from the growing population and effect of climate change.

By opening up the market, allowing new players to obtain licenses, customer journeys will be at the forefront of their mind as they look to compete for customers. The new players have a key advantage of starting from scratch, developing innovative and radical new approaches to servicing customers which are not so easily available to current suppliers.

This customer journey will be a key decision factor in how suppliers win trust and loyalty by delivering a reliable, high quality and efficient service which offers excellent value for money.

Steps for companies to take and safeguard reputation

The customer journey is all about knowing what happens to customers when they engage with you. It is about how they react and how it makes them feel at every touch point.

Customer journeys are all about continuous improvement and, as a supplier, you should:

  • Understand the journeys your customers go on;
  • Know what your customers expect;
  • Be aware of the gaps and the pain points;
  • Track the moments of truth….and learn from them!

There are clear benefits from customer journey mapping, for both the business and its customers.

  • Identifies data and hand-off points to better understand the role that each department plays in the overall customer-focused strategy;
  • Reveals opportunities to create customer satisfaction and improve the end-to-end experience;
  • Understands which touch points are most important and critical to your business success;
  • Provides insights into where your company should be investing, to improve the customer experience;
  • Helps determine which touch points require less, or more, focus;
  • To really have meaningful impact on customer experience, customer journey maps have to be firmly integrated into the decision-making processes.