My wife and I went with two of her colleagues to a fundraiser last night for a candidate running for Governor. In a torrential downpour I dropped my wife and two business colleagues at the Center City hotel where the fundraiser was being held. After parking the car I arrived soaking wet but eager for an interesting event hosted by a candidate we support.
Touchpoint #1: Registration
As I walked upstairs to the registration area, the first table I come across had an array of nametags mostly arranged alphabetically. I assumed one of the nametags was mine and began looking closely, of course, still dripping wet from the rain and anxious to get into the ballroom to meet with my wife and her colleagues. After a few fruitless moments looking for my badge, I spotted a note on the side of the table stating, “Elected Officials Only.” Feeling frustrated, and a bit embarrassed by my mistake, I made my way further down the corridor.
Observation: The emotional reaction we create in people experiencing our brand informs how they will behave towards us in the future. Had someone considered the impact on a regular citizen of placing “Elected Officials Only” name tags at the most visible table they might not have made this choice.
After a few more minutes of perusing tables down the hallway, more casually this time so as not to embarrass myself again, I struck out once more. Finally I found an aid (among a dozen) located at the far end of the hallway. She had the one copy of the list of registered attendees.
Observation: Forrester analysts state that great customer experiences are easy. Thus, it stands to reason that designing easy into every touch point should be a consideration for any experience or event planner.
The aide found my wife’s name on her list but not mine, even though my wife paid for and registered both of us online. Thankfully, my wife arrived at this moment to sort out the situation. Together we learned that the campaign had no record of my wife registering me or paying the rate for two attendees. The list showed a record of my wife paying, but for only one attendee. Which was unlikely considering that we were always planning to attend the event together.
After more discussions with the unmoved campaign aide my wife, clearly frustrated at this point, decided to write a check for the missing amount so we could join the event before it was over.
Observation: Mistakes happen and we’ve been to many events like this in the past where things have not gone smoothly. The difference is in how they are handled. What a difference it would have made to us if the aide had shown empathy and concern for our situation – given us benefit of the doubt and trusted that we were there on good faith.
Touchpoint #2: The Candidate
After a warm up speaker the candidate came out to make her pitch. Her energy was good but the passion seemed to be missing. She half-read her speech. I also got the distinct feeling this was just another event for her—one of many in a long campaign.
Observation: I don’t know if we approached the candidate’s speech in a less than charitable mood because of the less than enjoyable experience up to that point. The confusion I felt finding my nametag, the message I received by being directed away from the VIP table, the lack of care we experienced from the aide who couldn’t help us may all have contributed to our criticism of the candidate.
The main point of the speech involved some easy shots at the incumbent, much to the delight of the partisan crowd. But, this too, left a bad impression.
Observation: Everything communicates and taking pot shots at the incumbent only served to cheapen the candidate’s brand in our eyes.
After leaving the event we felt lukewarm about the candidate and her chances of winning this competitive race.
The point of this story is to illustrate how important it is to be mindful of all touchpoints when creating meaningful, memorable and engaging experiences for customers. Every customer experience reinforces or refutes your brand promise, whether in retail banking or among politicians running for public office. If the registration touchpoint at last night’s fundraiser had been managed better, my wife and I probably would have had a more positive impression of the candidate. Instead, the few poor experiences early on created a domino effect that knocked down our perception of a candidate we were there to support.
In reflecting on last night’s event, it’s clear that no one from the campaign had thought about creating an engaging experience for its donors. No one had planned the event to ensure each touchpoint was well managed, enjoyable and/or efficient. In the same way, businesses driving bottom line results need to consider the impact of key touchpoints on their brand.
It’s easy to be swayed by those who love your company and tune out those who don’t, but winning your “on the fence” voters and customers can make the difference in both election and business success.