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customer experience
Malcolm Ross
  • By Malcolm Ross
  • Jun 06 2016

Don’t Hold Back the Hallmark

Differentiation through 'hallmark' touchpoints

Last month saw the announcement that train operators will phase out the 150 year-old tradition of clipping tickets, because inspectors are suffering wrist and repetitive strain injuries. And with new technology allowing many passengers to use their smart device to present their tickets, the decision may not have been a difficult one for train companies.

“Is the decision to replace a human with a technological solution based on a thorough understanding of the customer experience? ” Malcolm Ross

Technology is rapidly changing both the customer experience and the work experience, allowing all companies to improve convenience and sometimes replace people with machines. And, as the financial downturn across many industries in the UK refuses to go away, the overwhelming temptation is for the decision to be motivated by cutting costs.

The question that I fear some business leadership teams may well forget when facing such situations is this - Are decisions to replace a human with a technological solution based on a thorough understanding of the customer experience?

The Walt Disney Company faced a similar situation in their theme parks worldwide, where the employees operating the turnstiles at the park entrance were originally called ‘Ticket Takers’ because that is exactly what they did. However, with the shift to a single ticket price for all access, and automated ticket systems that could manage the entire process, Ticket Takers were no longer needed.

Disney however, decided to leave a cast member at each turnstile and changed the job title to Park Greeter, knowing that arriving at the park represented an emotional high point for guests. They also recognised the importance of being highly intentional about creating emotional connections - especially through people - and that emotional connections lead to business performance.

I often see businesses taking decisions without a thorough understanding of the customer experience, and compounding the error by neglecting those hallmark moments where the brand can be especially distinctive, motivating and emotionally engaging. Cutting costs is essential in any business, and technology provides the opportunity to benefit customers and save money at the same time, but what’s important is that decisions are firmly customer-led.

Business leaders need to constantly question what they can do to drive service differentiation, and enhance their ‘hallmark’ touchpoints, and in my experience with leading brands, including Disney, magnifying those hallmark moments is crucial, even when on occasions it might fly in the face of short-term financial logic.