In order to deliver the optimal outcome for both business and customer, each channel needs to be cognisant of the current position in the customer journey and flexible enough to accommodate any previously bypassed stages

To set the scene, last week at 1am I was locked out of my flat – a faulty mechanism in the front door. This has never happened to me before but I quickly learnt in the following half hour that 24-hour locksmiths are like unicorns; they don’t exist. Anyway, two kicks later (worryingly) I was in the flat and asleep. The next morning I was reminded that booting down my door was not a dream and that I would have to commence my search for a suitable joiner.

I didn’t need to search online for long until I was on the website of a reputable vendor who would supply and fit. I wanted to find out the price so I used the door designing tool on their website to choose and configure it. Colour of handles? Chrome. Hinges left, or right? Spyhole? Definitely. Having designed my door and clicking next I didn’t get a price, rather, a web contact form to catch my personal details; very cunning. But I handed them over regardless. Within the hour, a sales gentleman was on the other end of the line (let’s call him Salesman A) and couldn’t be faulted for his skills: an inviting tone, positive and emotive language as well as being naturally keen to get to know his prospect before talking about doors and revealing the price (which was a lot but I knew I had chosen an expensive door with all the bells and whistles which I could later remove). He asked if I would like anyone to pop round at 5:15pm that evening to talk me through the rest of the process: I didn’t even surprise myself by saying yes. Having been wooed by Salesman A, a couple of hours later Salesman B was sat on my sofa with a big briefcase, and paper spilling onto the floor.

“I understand you’ve been speaking with my boss” Salesman B began. I said yes and that I was interested in the process and wondered if the doors met fire regulations. It was at this point that the customer experience moved off camber. Clearly excited by his “warm” lead, Salesman B got out his calendar and informed me that to secure (my rather dear) quote I had to select one of only three days available over the following six weeks for them to fit my door. Alarm (or door) bells began to ring in my head. I became acutely aware that I hadn’t even seen a door let alone felt the weight of it, heard the click of its locking mechanism or tested its soundproofing, yet here I was with a stranger in my home telling me the dates I had to get it fitted, whilst running me through all of their finance options. It was an uncomfortable hard sell so I shooed him out by saying I’d visit the showroom in a week or so.

I’ve played the above over in my head many times, and it’s got me thinking about sales funnels, customer journeys and omni-channel interactions. The above journey went through Google search > website > phone > face-to-face. This is a clear example of a journey with an increasing level of personalisation but still never led to a sale. Why? Well, apart from the obvious reason that the product (the actual door) was an insignificant and infrequent topic of discussion, the main reason is that I had been accelerated down the sales funnel far too quickly and the crucial step of being able to open, close and lock a showroom door was completely missed. Yes, the above story is a good example of multiple touchpoints being used while descending the sales funnel, but is conversely a very weak use of customer journeys.

In order to deliver the optimal outcome for both business and customer, each channel needs to be cognisant of the current position in the customer journey and flexible enough to accommodate any previously bypassed stages. What if Salesman B brought the showroom to my front room with a scaled model door? It’s cutting a corner, but it would have at least allowed me to get back in tune with the product by rewinding a step in the customer journey – it might have even prevented a lost sale.  

For large organisations, with many products and services served across multiple channels, this is a complex task. Break it down by starting with the customer journey, overlay the communication strategy (throughout the journey) before configuring the channels to dynamically deliver. If you have a customer journey that is proving challenging to translate into dynamic technical solutions, or you’re a door salesman interested in mapping out your customer journey, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Andrew Pritchard

Project Manager at Merkle|Comet

Andrew is a Consultant within the Strategy and Insights practice at Comet. Inspired by an ambition to make operational activities slick by working smarter, he has been delivering new touchpoint capabilities at pace. Andrew arrived at Comet with a First Class Honours Degree in Logistics and a further 3 years of experience within Oil and Gas where he proactively managed global suppliers; driving streamlined internal and external operations through the promotion of intelligent use of Material Resource Planning systems. Now he’s taking on both consultative and project management roles within clients to compliment their marketing objectives.