The Importance of Following Through

November 10, 2020By Carrie Huckeby

How important is follow-through? It’s pretty darn important if you’re the customer. As a matter of fact, in his book The Effortless Experience, Matthew Dixon cites a survey of 97,000 respondents in which follow-through was selected as one of the top expectations when sticking with a business.

For me, I’m ready to write a five-star review when a company does what it said it would do. It should be the norm, though, not a surprise.

When the issue goes unresolved, I — like many consumers — consider a rant on social media. No business wants that.

Why is follow-through so crucial to individuals and businesses?

  • Acknowledgment. Follow-through says you are essential. You are valued. Remember third grade when the coach didn’t pick you for the playground team sport? According to The McKinley Group, 70% of the buying decision is based on how the company makes us feel. No one likes that third grade wallflower feeling of rejection. Being ignored is not something customers want.

  • Customer effort. Writer Dixon says companies should stop worrying about exceeding expectations and make doing business easy. Your employees should focus on maximizing the investment of each customer’s time — and then repeat that effort, over and over again. After all, no one enjoys calling a service provider multiple times for the same problem. FaceTime with friends or family is a better use of the customer’s time than listening to your company’s on-hold message.

  • Disappointment. The lack of follow-through leads to disappointment. There’s disappointment in the company as a whole, the employees and the management. Disappointment is an emotion, and such emotion can be dangerous — it can prompt a bad review, venting on social media and telling friends all about the disaster. Remember the 70% statistic and feelings?

  • Revenue. The sales team has a long list of leads. No follow-through means no sale and no new acquisition. The competitor won that one. What about existing customers? Sadly, the customer gave low marks on the satisfaction survey. Did anyone assign the task to follow-through and ask why the scores are less than perfect? The competitor got that one too. Those churn percentages continue to rise. Revenue is taking a dip.

As crucial as follow-through is to the customer experience, companies often fail to put safeguards in place. The customer can easily fall through a crack along the buyer’s journey. Maybe it’s the step between awareness and evaluation. Perhaps it’s the leap between purchase and advocacy. The only way to know for sure is to map the buyer’s journey. Walk in the customer’s shoes. Are there spots along the journey that are more susceptible to follow-through mishaps? 

Here are some common examples:

  • Website contact form. The individual or business fills out a form for more information. A black hole opens and swallows the record, never to be answered or found. Between awareness and evaluation, you lost the customer.

  • Voicemail. The mailbox is full, alerting the caller no one checks voicemail. The interested party cannot reach anyone after calling the number on the brochure. Maybe they leave a very detailed message and still no return call. It’s not a good sign of how the company does business.

  • Online shopping cart. About 63% of consumers abandon their shopping carts. They do it for multiple reasons. Something isn’t working, and it takes too long to complete an order. Or the costs are unclear. Or they struggle with the payment section. Is anyone checking uncompleted purchase orders to follow-through?

  • Negative social media chatter. Your company receives a bad review, or a customer isn’t happy. According to writer Jay Baer, 70% of companies ignore complaints on Twitter. For a customer, the silence of an unresponsive company can say a lot. Remember the wallflower and being ignored? Consumers do not like it.

  • Positive social media chatter. A consumer who loves your company and is ecstatic about the service might go to social media and shout about your company brand to thousands of friends and family. Here is the advocacy stop on the customer journey. What do you do? Will you send a thank you? Will you add comments to her billing record, so you know the customer is a strong supporter? Will you follow-through and take action? Or, will you fail to recognize the importance of a personal shout-out?

No one likes to feel ignored, undervalued, disappointed or forced to do all the legwork to do business with a service provider. Follow-through is imperative for a smooth customer journey and, ultimately, a good customer experience.

After reading this blog, I hope you will examine your customer’s journey and plug up those cracks your consumers might fall between.

You know, follow-through.

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