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Large road sign at Hyde Park Corner, London

The next step

Have you had an experience of driving to a destination in an unfamiliar town or city where you are confidently following road signs, and are almost there, but you suddenly find yourself at a junction with no sign and it’s not clear which way to go? Do you go left or right? There’s another car impatiently hovering behind you so you have to make a snap choice. You know that if you choose wrong you’ll probably end up in the wrong part of town navigating a one-way system.

Don’t you hate it when road signs dry up?!

You’ve probably had a similar experience too when engaging with a brand or service. You think you are waiting for the washing machine repair company to call you back, or was it that you needed to call them? Did the GP say they’d call you with your blood test results, or are you meant to follow up? When did they say they’d have them? It’s possible you were told what would happen next as you were leaving your last appointment, but you don’t remember.

You’ve signed up to attend an event, but did you get the ticket yet? Was it coming by post? By email? Did you see the small print that said you must bring it with you? Did you come to the wrong counter or department? Are you sitting in the wrong reception area? The wrong departure gate?

At each step of your customer journey do you explicitly tell customers what the next step is, who will take it, when it will be done by and what to expect? Do you explain exactly where to go, which entrance to use, how to pay, who to ask for, what day or time to be there and what to bring?

If customers are waiting a long time for the next step, do you do anything to reassure them that all is still fine? Perhaps they are waiting several months for a knee operation, for a legal process to complete, for their child to get a place in their local gymnastics club or for a rare item they ordered from abroad to be imported. They could be waiting a while without hearing anything and mistakenly believe something has gone wrong. You may find you and your team are spending more time than you would want fielding enquiries from anxious customers checking that they haven’t missed anything and asking for updates.

Check your customer service inbox and talk to those who talk directly to customers. Look for clues to see if there is anywhere that customers are unsure of what the next step is.

Can you make it easier for them by being extra clear at every stage about what happens next? Can you enable them to track progress online or have notifications and reminders sent to them via multiple channels? Can you give them more detailed and specific instructions, or make it possible for them to always deal with the same person?

Be clear about what happens next.

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