Align Your Customer Experience Channels and Avoid Being a Two-Faced Business


Happy Face Pancakes

A friend of mine recently took her children to IHOP for dinner and shared a story this story with me.

It all started when my children ordered the famous IHOP “Happy Face” pancake dinner. When it arrived at the table her 2 year old son became very upset and proceeded to say, “Mommy, not it!” over and over again. I attempted to explain to him that what he received was what he had ordered. Apparently it was not working. After several attempts to calm him down my oldest son (7) said, “Mommy, that pancake doesn’t look anything like the picture in the menu!” Of course, how could I have missed that!

Have you ever wondered how many of your customers might be having the same thoughts? When we move our brick and mortar business into the online world we open the potential “error” gap. How well we bridge this gap will determine the quality of the customer experience and ultimately impact customer loyalty.

Continue the Offline Conversation when it Moves Online

When a customer transitions from the offline world to the online world they simply want to continue the conversation. All of the rapport that was built offline should transfer online and all of your branding efforts should transfer over too. They should see one face, not two. If they don’t, you can bet you will hear about it or see your business name plugged in a negative customer review.

Do you know that delivering an excellent customer experience has a positive impact on conversion rates and revenue?

According to a recent customer experience report released by Econsultancy, as much as 73% of consumers would buy again from a business if they had a superior customer experience, while 89% would shun a business if they had a bad experience.

There have never been more channels through which our customers can potentially experience us and our product—there are now more mobile phones in the world than toothbrushes. Yes, online is now the place to share. Share what? The offline experience, of course!

The face-to-face conversation is moving online at the speed of light—or at least it feels that way.

Build Online Ambassadors through Offline Experiences

What can an automobile manufacturer teach us about “filling the gap” and the power of the offline customer experience? More than you think. Sometimes it’s the things that don’t cost very much—the emotional connection that threads the two together!

“Like Father, Like Son” is one of my favorite commercials for the Chevy truck. When the commercial ends with, “Built for work and everything you work for,” I know exactly what they mean. That message resonates with me.

Chevy is known for their community involvement especially when it comes to Little League Baseball. It is a grassroots initiative that establishes a positive relationship between local dealers and the communities they serve. Sometimes they pass out t-shirts, sponsor car washes and even bring a camera crew to video tape a game. Yes! They have been known to make a short video of kids playing baseball and give a private link to their parents. It is a gift and they can choose to do whatever they like with it. Can you imagine the Facebook post and tweet that would result from such a gift? It is one way of moving the offline face-to-face meetings into their online world.

Chevy is teaching us a lesson on how to build online ambassadors through their offline experiences. While Chevy does not expect that these parents will go out tomorrow and buy a Chevy, they are hoping that they will tell their family and friends—online and offline.

Pay Attention to What Your Customers are Saying

If you really want to know what happens as a customer moves from one interaction to another and from one face of your business to another, take a look into the magical and mysterious world of apartment ratings and reviews. Apartment ratings and review sites are becoming a natural avenue for customers to share their online and offline thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and come in many forms: online resident surveys, in-person conversations, apartment ratings and review sites, Facebook posts, and Tweets.

A 2007 survey conducted by of more than 2,000 U.S. Internet users, revealed that consumes were willing to pay at least 20 percent more for services receiving an “Excellent,” or 5-star, rating than for the same service receiving a “Good,” or 4-star, rating.

Additionally, more than three-quarters of review users in nearly every category reported that the review had a significant influence on their purchase, with hotels ranking the highest (87 percent). Review users also noted that reviews generated by fellow consumers had a greater influence than those generated by professionals.

That was in 2007. Can you imagine what these numbers are now?

Align your Customer Experience Channels and Be Authentic

Interacting with customers whether digitally or in person is a lot like our personal lives. We expect our online friends to behave and look the same way as they do in person. They expect the same from us—their service provider. It’s about being authentic.

Few business leaders see what actually happens as a customer moves from one interaction to another or from one face of a business to another. Failure to align customer experience channels such as phone, chat, online, and in person can result in a two-faced business.

Do you know how your customers feel about your business and the people serving them? How do you know if you own or manage a two-faced business?

If you’re not paying attention to this, your customers are bound to notice that your Happy Face pancake dinner in the “real” world doesn’t smile as authentically as it does in the online world.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.



President and Owner, Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping

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Joanna Ellis is CEO and Owner of Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS) and Co-owner of Renter’s Voice. Under her direction, Ellis has established itself as the premier apartment mystery shopping company in the nation, as well as a respected provider of multi-touch point resident surveys, as part of their retention-focused customer experience program. Current clients include most major apartment developers, management companies, and REITs. Through Renter’s Voice, Ellis helps clients promote and respond to authentic and objective apartment reviews. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Texas A&M, Ms. Ellis has spent more than 25 years in the multifamily industry, and she now holds both the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS). She is also a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent. In honor of EPMS’ reputation for integrity, the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals awarded Joanna, on behalf of the company, the 2008 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award for mid-size companies.

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