Think about the last memorable customer experience you had; maybe at a restaurant, while shopping, or during a travel experience. What made it stand out for you? Were you treated with great respect? Made to feel special? Given more than you expected? Made to feel good? Or did you go home emotionally connected with the person who served you?
We tend to tell others about these memorable customer experiences and as a result they are often tempted to seek out the product or service for themselves. Good publicity increases the pool of customers!
What kind of experiences are your customers having? Do they become your advocates or detractors? Do they bring you more customers, or warn them away?
What are the critical elements to consider in developing excellent customer experiences?
Build empathy for your clients. If you were in their shoes, would you buy your product or service? Do you understand the needs of your clients? Do you feel their pain? Do you know what would make them happy? Once you feel empathy for your client, you can start developing a solution that fits their exact needs.
Shift your focus from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty. Customer satisfaction is critical for survival; however, in these days of rapidly changing client expectations and product turnover, satisfaction is not sufficient for continuous growth. Consider the example of the smart phone market. As soon as one company puts a great device on the market, a competitor unveils an even better one. Shopping for these devices has become a dizzying experience!
Most phones exceed customer expectations and that leads to satisfaction; however, few win customer loyalty. To gain customer loyalty and keep them coming back to your product or service, you need to provide a unique experience that connects the customer to you emotionally. You want an experience that is difficult for the competition to imitate. In the case of smart phones, all companies have access to the same technology and can quickly replicate the technology of others. What they can’t imitate easily is the way you bring the customers into “the family” and keep them there.
Determine the kind of experience you want to deliver. What differentiates the customer experience you provide? What would make customers stay with you through thick and thin? How do you embed yourself in their hearts and minds? Steve Jobs argued, in 1997, that “we have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology… What incredible benefits can we give to the customer?” It worked. When Apple won the title of "most admired customer experience” in 2011, Steven Walden, senior head of research and consulting at Beyond Philosophy, commented, “Apple has married all the elements of its experience and connected with its customers in a deeply emotional, irrational way,"
Consult the customer on the design of the experience. Social media allows companies to connect directly with their customers. You can get them involved in designing the type of experience they would like to have. The number of people commenting on their experiences in social media is increasing daily. A recent American study found that 85 % of people believe that companies should interact with their customers. They found that 58% of those surveyed said if they had tweeted about a bad experience, they would like the company to respond to their comments, but only 22% actually got a response. If you are not being part of the social media discussion and striving to understand the customer’s needs, your competitor may be there taking advantage of it.
Mobilize all employees to deliver a memorable experience. Your frontline employees, those who are facing the customer, will deliver the customer experience you choose. These employees need to live the experience before they can deliver it. To do this well, they need the backing of the entire organization, including its leaders.
You and your leadership team must set the example. Steve Jobs made it his personal business to design products that he wanted his customers to enjoy. Unfortunately, many CEOs leave it to the marketing or sales departments to design and deliver the customer experience. Without commitment from leaders at the top, those down the chain may not be able to envision the bigger picture and see how it will evolve over time.
At The Achievement Centre everyone helps design the customer experience we want our clients to have. We always start with the question: Would I be happy with the service if I were my own customer?
The promise we make is this:
Our clients willingly become long term partners because our success is intertwined with theirs. When you partner with us and fulfill your part of the deal, we promise both an excellent experience and a great return on investment. You will be pleased or we will refund your investment. That's our promise.