Whereas a decade ago customer experience appeared to be exclusive domain of sales and customer service teams, it now is commonly recognized as an imperative for any successful customer facing business.
The term customer experience covers the perception a customer has of a brand, based on any interaction between him and one’s organisation. Hence, a key focus on the customer must be intrinsically embedded throughout the entire company and all related business processes.
Gain loyal customers & operational excellence
However, why bother having an overall customer-centricity focus? What is the point of improving customer experience? After all, it is about building a better, bigger and more profitable company. Put this way, it makes sense to not only fulfil customers’ needs in an accurate way, but to consider improving customer experience as a perseverant holistic process of transformation. As such, it is about a purpose-focused transformation which services the company by serving the customer experience.
By building a customer centric company culture, loyal customers and operational excellence might very well become yours. Take a closer look at the nature of the term ‘experience’ and it instantly becomes clear how these two come alongside. For, every experience a customer has contains three elements:
- Functional; does the interaction provide what the customer requested?
- Accessible; how easy is it for customer to get what he requested?
- Emotional; how does this experience make him feel?
The second component continuously provides you with opportunities for operational and process improvements. As a customer is most likely to remember the way the experience made him feel, the latter should be the one your customer centric company culture thrives on.
Really understand & add value
Customers who feel “connected” to a brand or company become loyal, are more likely to purchase again and tell other people about it. Thus, ensure yourself of building reliable, consistent and value adding relationships as a brand. So, you’ll have to find out what needs to be done in order to create an emotional connection, based on a customer experience which is worth remembering for the right reasons.
One of the best ways to do so, is to collect and use customer feedback. Today’s fast-advancing technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), is a true enabler to do so. The more you know about your customers, the better you can predict what they might want or need in the future. Such predictive analytics are useful to improve the customer experience.
Consider how Disney uses Magic Bands at its theme parks. The bands offer visitors lots of conveniences, but also a lot of data to Disney which help them to understand visitors better. Or think of how Spotify customizes playlists that account for what customers are doing during the day.
Here we find ourselves at the point where understanding customers might enable you to add value to the relationship. As you understand your customers and their needs, you become able to create loyalty based on experienced value. Consider Nike which invested in a value-added app that helps customers track their runs. At the same time, the app provides value to the customer and information about customers to Nike. The app informs the customers when it’s time to buy a new pair of Nikes and through augmented reality, it sizes the feet and provide the opportunity to try different types of shoes. Or think of the health insurance companies, which also support their customers on a journey to better health and to achieve health goals.
Create a tangible experience
Although we live in an overwhelmingly digital world, it is in our human nature to still crave tangible experiences. Think about how vinyl records have made a comeback and their listeners want to feel the vinyl, hear the crackling of the record and watch it as it spins round. From this perspective it is also important to still provide human contact in customer interaction and mandate your employees to add value for the customer to that very specific moment. Think of the bank employee who was entitled to provide a certain amount of money to a customer who requested an immediate block of bank account, after he got robbed. With the money came a bunch of flowers.
Considering improving customer experience as a holistic process of transformation the analogy with a caterpillar turning into a butterfly comes to mind. As not only differs how we fulfil customer needs tomorrow considerably from how we did so two decades ago, also the value added to the offered experience will constantly change in time.