Why Improving The Customer Experience Matters: A Love Story
We said last time that the smartest companies are now working hard to manage their customers’ experiences with their products and services in order to delight and retain them.
So how do you do it?
A successful customer experience cycle looks like this:
Connect and Attract
This is your chance to establish an effective and affective link with your customers. Your mother was right: You never get a second chance at a first impression to demonstrate your relevance to the consumers.
This is your opportunity to be crystal clear on the possible ways you can serve your customers better, requiring the least amount of effort for them to change or adapt to you. (Most companies trip over this part because employees are so knowledgeable about their product or service that they can’t empathize with consumers who are new to it.) Here you want to invite, allow and anticipate exploration, curiosity and questions on their terms.
You deliver a valuable activity in exchange for time, money, information, etc. The best exchanges are uniquely and delightfully positive, setting the bar for future encounters.
Extend and Retain
Your customers come back for more, and you again exceed their expectations in ways that do not have to only be associated with the product or service itself. This is where the love affair becomes real. You now are working on a meaningful relationship with your customers.
Your customers actively communicate their love for you with others. Give your customers permission and a suggestion of a place for where to talk about you.
Share The Journey
Too many companies rely only on their sales staff—or worse, completely on channel partners—to tell them what their customers’ experiences are like. This is like asking a pilot how a flight went. From his perspective, the plane landed safely, so things went great. He has no idea that the flight attendants ran out of drinks somewhere over Tulsa or that the guy in front of you rammed his chair back, spilling coffee on your lap and laptop. And he is clueless about the fact that the overhead bins were full after “boarding group two” entered the plane, leaving 63 people standing in the Jetway waiting for their carry-ons, and worrying if they will make their connections. The point: Empathy is critical, and it comes from you sharing every part of the journey with your customer.
Make Every Touch Point Uniquely Yours
Too often we think innovation needs to be something that has fancy buttons that you plug in. The best innovators see possibilities to improve every touch point—from point-of-sale to product to help line to billing experience.
Embrace The Hate To Innovate
Many companies make the mistake of only going to their best customers to see how they can improve. Friend, client and innovation expert Barry Calpino from Kraft encourages his teams to find the people who hate the company’s products and services the most and to try to please them. Most companies believe these people are a lost cause. Barry sees them as potential customers—and a valuable source of new ideas.
Focus On Your Core
You can’t be all things to all people. If your FAQ list (frequently asked questions) has dozens and dozens of questions, it is a pretty good indication that you need to focus more on what you can uniquely and magically deliver to your customers. Customer intimacy means you have learned what matters most to your customer and therefore can guide the conversation and create the best experience.
Fight Through It
Creating a love affair with your customer takes time, patience and empathy. Remember, this is a journey that involves new discoveries, exploration and mutual benefit; there will be ups and downs that you, your team and your customers will experience along the way, and you need to pull each other along to create relationships grounded in trust and loyalty.
Customer experience experts understand that a “love affair” with your consumers is the ultimate brand advantage because in life and business, love conquers all.