These days, you need more than a strong product to produce happy customers. It takes an equally strong customer experience.
Think about the brands you come back to again and again—and again. Whether it was a customer service agent who solved your problem in record time, or a salesperson who followed up with you after your purchase just to check in, our last best experiences tend to stick out in our memory. And they tend to become a powerful driver of brand loyalty and customer retention.
So, what does a loyalty-building “last best experience” actually look like? For Brian Lannan, Vice President of Retail Experience at Avtex, his last best experience was with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association.
What Happened During Brian’s Experience with the Timberwolves?
When the NBA and the Minnesota Timberwolves finally announced they were ready to welcome back fans to the arena after months of strict COVID-19 protocols, Brian and his family couldn’t wait to buy tickets to an upcoming game. Weeks before the in-person games were scheduled to take place, Brian’s last best experience began with a special invitation to buy presale tickets. Offered to him as a former ticket purchaser, the presale allowed Brian to avoid the long wait times and limited ticket availability that often become an early source of user friction.
On gameday, Brian and his family arrived at the arena and were immediately surrounded by frictionless customer experiences at every turn. Digital tickets helped to limit contact and sped up the ticket scanning process at the gates to keep lines moving. Once they were in their seats, Brian ordered concessions—and even team merchandise—with just a few taps on the Timberwolves app. Each time he left his seat to go pick up a drink, a hotdog, or a new Timberwolves hat, the simple preorder process allowed him to collect his items and return to his seat quickly without missing the game.
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What Made This Experience Stand Out?
From buying tickets, to entering the arena, buying concessions, and placing a merchandise order—Brian was able to manage every aspect of his experience with the Timberwolves from the ease and convenience of his smartphone. With COVID-19 continuing to pose challenges in large-group settings, any of these high-contact touchpoints could have created an uncomfortable experience for some fans in attendance. The self-service nature of the Timberwolves app allowed Brian to streamline his person-to-person interactions throughout the game.
Beyond its safety benefits, the enhanced app-based experience demonstrated a deep understanding of Brian’s motivation for attending the game—to actually watch the game. By reducing lines at the gate, at the concessions stand, and in the team store, the Timberwolves gave Brian an experience that put the game first.
Brands can use digital experiences to reduce friction across the journey.Brian Lannan, VP of Retail Experience at Avtex
How Digital Tools Can Augment the Customer Experience
Potential customer friction is everywhere. In Brian’s case, spending extra time buying concessions or team merchandise would have kept him from watching some great basketball.
In the digital era, new digital transformation opportunities are emerging every day that can help ease these points of friction by introducing greater fluidity and flexibility to traditionally analog processes. In retail, advance ordering can save time spent in the store shopping. In healthcare, telehealth can shrink time spent in waiting rooms and commuting to clinic locations. Meeting and exceeding your customers’ expectations with these digital capabilities, however, requires a comprehensive omnichannel strategy that delivers a fully integrated experience across the full range of channels—from physical to digital and everywhere in between.
To achieve this goal, organizations must first gain a core understanding of the customer and keep their needs front of mind. How do they prefer to interact with your brand? And what challenges can you help them solve at every touchpoint in their customer journey? When you know what your customers expect, it becomes much easier to create seamless handoffs that transition them from a digital touchpoint, to a face-to-face interaction, and back again.