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Improving the Customer Experience: Examining Touch Points

Improving the Customer Experience: Examining Touch Points

April 6, 2004
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" A strong membership retention plan focused on customer touch points, followed by consistent execution, will improve your offerings dramatically and ultimately result in a higher quality membership base and increased revenues. "

Today’s marketplace inundates the customer with advertising messages geared towards every conceivable sensory experience. Browse a few websites in the adult arena, and you will quickly be exposed to intrusive pop-ups, sneaky pop-under windows, and obnoxious voices blaring through your speakers. This environment creates intense competition for the resource in scarcest supply: the end consumer.

With a barrage of messages from your competitors constantly showing up on your member’s doorsteps combined with the rising cost of new customer acquisition, the smart webmaster strives to ensure his or her website retains as many current subscribers as possible.

Exceeding customer expectations is a necessity if one seeks to maximize this critical metric. If you are unable or unwilling to provide more than the customer bargains for, your competitors will certainly be more than happy to step in. The process begins with an “outside-in” approach to managing customer interactions, examining touch points from the member’s perspective rather than any long standing conceptions (or, worse, misconceptions) you might have held about their daily viewing habits. By understanding your visitor’s needs and goals, you open yourself to identifying the key areas where significant value can be injected.

Seems like an easy concept, right? Unfortunately, it’s one of the most widely misunderstood. Even webmasters with a serious long-term commitment to the customer experience can end up wasting resources and opportunities by implementing the wrong programs.

“Visibility” is the key word, and is an important concept to master before even conceptualizing a membership retention program. In broad terms, visibility refers to those changes which directly impact a surfer’s daily interaction with your membership offerings. To better understand the concept, consider the example of a webmaster who invests in live support chat functionality. On the surface, this seems to be a wonderful addition to customer service: a live person available 24 hours per day to answer any questions members might come up with. In practice, however, less than 1% of members are likely to need live assistance, and over half of those who do are asking to be walked through canceling their membership. Money well spent? As an alternative, the same webmaster could have easily devoted the capital to an extra video feed, or to a member’s only chat room. The same funds would now have a “visible” impact on the customer, giving them a tangible reason to stick around.

A focus on the customer is easy to implement and does not require an immediate overhaul of your membership areas. Commitment is the key to long-term success and meaningful results. Rather than introducing a sweeping change of your membership areas, which tends to confuse surfers and have the unintended effect of driving them away, work towards a modular roll-out of increasingly valuable services and offerings. By leveraging the additional capital that results from member retention, you will be able to offer an increasingly valuable set of services and create a positive effect on your membership retention statistics.

Be careful to evaluate your results in realistic terms. Specifically, analyzing statistically insignificant figures will not yield meaningful results. As an example, a website with 50 members should not expect to gauge member retention until approximately 500 members. A good barometer of your success may be the increasing consistency (rather than speed) with which members are added to your ranks. If early on your site struggled to break the 50 member mark due to constant loss of your existing customer base, the march to 500 members should be paved with fewer drop offs in your overall ranks. These types of metrics, rather than the inevitable increase in membership size, will allow you to more accurately gauge your results. Pay careful attention to meaningful impacts certain programs and offerings have had on member retention. If adding an additional video feed kept members in place, consider adding more from the same company or in the same niche. If your audience stayed tuned in after adding a certain model, make sure you provide additional content featuring him or her.

Don’t be afraid to solicit customer feedback, either. Getting involved with your customers in a non-intrusive fashion can mean the difference between a rebill and a cancellation. Consider voluntary surveys or personal emails to long-time members. Never assume a member will be willing to participate in a feedback session, and certainly avoid soliciting their participation through the use of intrusive marketing (pop-ups, form-type emails, and mandatory survey pages).

A strong membership retention plan focused on customer touch points, followed by consistent execution, will improve your offerings dramatically and ultimately result in a higher quality membership base and increased revenues.


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