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The Who, What, Where, and How of Customer Experience

I was a journalism major in college, and early on it gets drilled into your head that you have to answer the 5 Ws when you write an article. That stuck with me and I hear my Ball State University professors whispering to me from the past every time I help organizations up their customer experience game.

Customer experience is about commitment and attention to detail. It is about taking the time to approach service in a considered and deliberate way.

This is where you can set yourself apart.

Remember that many organizations haven't taken the time to codify their customer experience strategy and journey in a way that translates into front line results.

That is why you must combine your organizational strategy with a boots-on-the-ground approach that will help you move from intention to action.

When you think about the type of experience your customers desire and you want to provide, it becomes important to manage the touchpoints that impact your clients, customers, consumers, and guests. That means that you must approach service from the customer point of view and be sure that you are engaging and listening to what they have to say.

The Touchpoint Experience Formula will highlight where you should be focusing your time, attention, and budget. Let's break down the four components of people, place, product, and process.

People (who):

Your front line associates and team are the face of your organization to customers. You should be clear with your team when it comes to the behaviors and steps that are expected when serving guests and customers. Take the time to define standards and expectations through training - and explain the importance behind each - to codify those success measures.

People are the key difference maker, so you must insure they have an engaging work experience and understand how their actions directly impact customers, the organization, and their colleagues. Remember that people could be your phone/chat agents, cashiers, support staff, and leadership.

When your team feels valued, they are more likely to give that little bit extra that often makes the difference between service and hospitality.

People will define your service.

Product (what):

You are providing something to your customers. This could be a product or a service, but it is all about the quality, consistency, and value you provide. This is what will solve the problem your customer is experiencing or will help them complete the job at hand.

It doesn't matter whether you are offering a service, such as accounting or a tangible item like a pizza, you have to deliver consistently great quality. And that quality can't just be once or twice - it must be solid every time.

You also have to determine your place on the value scale and own it. You don't have to be the cheapest or most expensive (although either are fine), but you must be worth the price. As you pull the levers of customization, cost, and price, you have to deliver upon your customer's expectations.

Product will define your quality.

Place (where):

This represents where you meet your customers and where you serve them. This could take on many forms - online, in a physical storefront, on the phone, or via video chat.

Be mindful of the details when it comes to "place." You have to stand back and look at things from the customer's point of view and determine if the website is user friendly and the waiting room is clean.

Be mindful that there are many facets to location - parking, cleanliness, safety, hours of operation, ease in creating an online account, and number of button pushes to navigate the call menu. This will take a focus on inspection and validation to stay on track.

Place will define your customer perception.

Process (how):

You must have a repeatable way of delivering value for customers, while still allowing for flexibility and innovation. Process could be training, policies, procedures, and quality assurance.

Process often happens behind the scenes, but will define how your business functions and how your team comes to understand what is expected. Training and policies most often support safety and financial results - but they also play a role in consistency and productivity.

Process is about empowerment, so it must also allow for service nuances and flexibility. One thing that frustrates customers is having the rule book thrown at them. So policies and procedures should not only set the guardrails but also keep things simple and uncomplicated.

Process will define your consistency.

Now that we have defined the Touchpoint Experience Formula - and there are many micro moments within each area - you can start to identify friction and inconveniences.

This is the start of empathy and journey mapping, which will help you understand what it means to be a customer within your business.

The next steps are to engage your team and your customers to learn what they think and feel about each of these channels. Do any provide particular wins or friction points that must be dealt with?

That is ultimately the goal of identifying touchpoints - to discover and eliminate hassles before they impact customer loyalty.

This is at the very heart of keeping customers at the center of everything you do.



  1. Are there any updates that need to be made to your policies to drive simplicity and flexibility?

  2. Are your locations clean and free of safety hazards?

  3. Does your training teach the skills and behaviors your team will need to serve your customers well?

Tony Johnson, CCXP Customer Experience Speaker | Author |Trainer | Consultant 606.356.7447 FREE RESOURCES AND TRAINING TOOLS WEB - TWITTER - FACEBOOK - YOUTUBE - INSTAGRAM Improve Your Customer Service with my Book: TOGETHER WE SERVE: Four Proven Strategies to Create Winning Experiences for Your Guests and Your Team Click to Purchase on


Tony Johnson is an award winning speaker and author on the topics of sales growth, customer experience, and leadership. Tony speaks to thousands annually and has been featured on ABC News and Fox News. He is available for business planning, motivational keynotes, leadership workshops, and employee service skills training.


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