Business Columns & Blogs

Jerry Osteryoung: Customer experience is a journey worth taking

Jerry Osteryoung
Jerry Osteryoung

I have written many columns about customer service because it is such a critical element that every business must master. However, too often I have seen businesses fail in this aspect because they are not looking at the entire customer experience.

Consider a restaurant. As a manager, maybe you think the food is what’s most important to customers, so all you have to do is ask if they enjoyed their meal, right?

Well, no.

What about the service, the ambiance, the noise level? Don’t miss the big picture, because patrons are influenced by the experience in its entirety.

It is vital to look at the customer experience as a journey your patrons take to acquire a product or service. To be successful in your delivery, you must understand what your customer experiences from beginning to end – not just at one moment.

For example, one company I was working with was convinced its customer service was a competitive advantage. However, management discovered it was failing when evaluating the total customer experience.

Customers had to wait an average of five minutes to speak with someone in the service area, so while the interaction was great, many patrons were upset with the wait time. In terms of the total customer experience, this portion was very poor.

One easy way to get a good understanding of the experience you are creating for customers is to map out the entire interaction – clearly identify each touchpoint – from when they place an order to when they receive the product.

The next step is to find out which touchpoints are not working and correct them. I am always surprised to see how often these are overlooked by management since all it takes is a simple exercise.

In one case, an appliance company had great sales and top-rate products, but the quality of their delivery personnel was much lower. They did not realize this was an issue until they walked through all the touchpoints and saw how ineffective the company was performing in that step of the process. Once the problem was identified, it was easy to fix.

To ensure you get buy-in from all staff members at the top, it is important to make this exercise a team activity. This process is one that large businesses have been doing for a long time. Small companies also can benefit by adopting this process of mapping the entire customer experience and evaluating how successful they are at every touchpoint.

Jerry Osteryoung, a business consultant and Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University, can be reached at