In this week’s issues of Promotional Consultant Today, we’ve been focusing on one key topic: consistency. We’ve talked about consistency in business growth, in sales and in branding. Today, we wrap up our series on consistency with a focus on customer satisfaction.

In a recent blog post, McKinsey & Company principals Alfonso Pulido, Dorian Stone and John Strevel described consistency as the secret ingredient to making customers happy. However, it’s difficult to achieve consistency and it requires top-leadership attention. In this issue, we’ll explain the role of consistency in the customer’s journey.

In a recent McKinsey survey on customer experience across 27,000 consumers and 14 industries, results showed that measuring satisfaction on the entire customer journey is 30 percent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction along the way. In addition, maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 percent but also to lift revenue by up to 15 percent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 percent.

These results highlight three important elements of consistency:

1. Customer-journey consistency. Consumers interact with business across multiple points of contact. Each of these areas should have processes in place for delivering a consistent customer experience. However, few companies can deliver consistently across customer journeys, even in meeting basic needs.

The survey report uses the example of a pay-TV company to illustrate its importance. Assume a customer interacts six times with a pay-TV company, starting when he or she undertakes online research into providers and ending when the first bill is received 30 days after service is installed. Assuming a 95 percent satisfaction rate for each individual interaction—whether measuring responsiveness, the accuracy of information, or other factors—even this level of performance means that up to one in four customers will have a poor experience during the on-boarding journey.

The report also uses an example of the banking industry that experienced a strong correlation between consistency on key customer journeys and overall performance in customer experience. For lower-performing banks, the variability in experience was high among the bank’s branches, so this affected the overall customer experience.

2. Emotional consistency. The McKinsey study also showed that positive customer-experience emotions—such as the feeling of trust—were the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty, and consistency plays an important role in creating that sense of trust. This emotional connection to the brand through trust is what leads to customer loyalty. For example, in the bank study, “a brand I feel close to” and “a brand that I can trust” were the top drivers for bank differentiation on customer experience.

3. Communication consistency. A company’s brand is driven by more than the combination of promises made and promises kept. What’s also critical is ensuring customers recognize the delivery of those promises, which requires proactively shaping communications and key messages that consistently highlight delivery as well as themes. Southwest Airlines, for example, has built customer trust over a long period by consistently delivering on its promise as a no-frills, low-cost airline. Similarly, Progressive Insurance created an impression among customers that it offered lower rates than its competitors in the period from 1995 to 2005 and made sure to highlight the fact when it delivered on that promise. Progressive also shaped how customers interpreted cost-reduction actions such as on-site resolution of auto claims by positioning and reinforcing these actions as part of a consistent brand promise that it was a responsive, technology-savvy company. In both cases, customer perceptions of the brands reinforced operational realities.

So, what can you do to drive consistency? First, map out your customer journey by defining all the points of interaction with your customer. Next, fix areas where negative experiences are common and, finally, don’t wait—take action now.

This wraps up this week’s PCT series on consistency. Make it a great weekend.

Source: Alfonso Pulido is an associate principal in McKinsey’s San Francisco office, where Dorian Stone is a principal; John Strevelis an associate principal in the Toronto office.