A survey conducted in 2015 by Forrester of business leaders ranked “improving customer experience” a higher priority than “growing revenue”. This ranking does not surprise me. It is amazing what you can learn when you get out of your own head and space and view the world from your customers perspective. I have worked with companies that have experienced and attitudinal shift from quite literally from walking in their customers shoes. The customer gained a new-found respect and the organisation realised they could design and test with the customer not despite their customers.
So many organisations I meet do not have the voice or the psychographic profile of their customers, they only speak to their customer to sell, this is crazy! Micah Solomon, named the “new guru of customer service excellence” by the Financial Post said “A great customer experience is one where customers feel good, even look good, during their time spent doing business. So, it’s important that a business invest in whatever will improve a customer’s feelings and self-esteem.”
Customer service kicks-in when the experience has failed, or to keep the service on track, these are all good things, however, many organisations that have a focus on customer service, it is like bolting the door after the customer has left your business – is reactive. Rather focus on creating a proactive experience that will makes your customers feel valued, happy and look good. If you get the customers experience right, you have less of a need for customer service to pick up the pieces!
Understanding the customers journey is about learning what the customer experiences from the moment they become aware of your brand, product or service and begin to consider a purchase. You must create the best experience to make the customers journey to buying a product or service as simple, clear, efficient and enjoyable as possible. The journey does not end with a purchase, this is the beginning of your relationship building that must be continuous to create a lifetime valued relationship.
Think of some of your own shopping experience whether offline or online, not always seamless or pleasant I guess! Is your customer experience easy to use, self-explanatory, streamlined, relaxing? Or do you just assume that since your insiders (employees) understand the process that it’s clear enough and easy enough for your customers to use as well? Feeling lost and frustrated by a counterintuitive customer experience doesn’t make anyone feel good about themselves, I know we have all experience this feeling. You must assume you have blockages in your processes and then go looking for them. Continually testing the robustness and easiness of use for your customers and even recruiting a sample test customer.
You may have heard of the word Friction, this is when the process moves slow or sluggish, something is stopping the easy flow of the process. A easy sign or this is a queue that not moving. I talk about flow and creating frictionless processes in your business in my book Business Evolution. Your aim is to remove all your process blocks and create a frictionless process and organisation.
Today it is too easy to be replicated and copied, for companies not to continue to evolve their customer experience, improve their flow of processes and continually build relationships and to create transformative growth, is a slow painful death.
5 Reasons to Create Great Experiences with Your Customers:
- It cost less to keep than to acquire customers
- It is more effective to cross-sell your current customers than to gain more sales prospects.
- It provides experiences that customers value, builds loyalty and strong relationships and so diminishes churn.
- It improves share of wallet, and generates higher margins.
- It creates the greatest breadth and depth of word of mouth recommendations to like-minded customers by elevating levels of satisfaction and exceeding customer needs.
I worked for a customer experience consultancy and in one project with AOL Europe we got their designers and technicians to visit their users and watch a customer make a journey (the customer journey was to find something and buy something online) in the user environment. If the environment was on their bed in a dark room, so Beit! The technicians and designers learnt so many things such as the many shortcuts the customers used that had not been designed in to the programme or anticipated as possible.
It is a no brainer – so why aren’t more companies focusing on creating great customer experiences!
Because they do not know how to create maintain and innovate customer experience!
First you must understand your customer preferences and then look at their journeys and priorities and then tread the priority ones to transform them.
4 Steps to Innovate Your Customers Experience
- Break each journey down into touchpoints (a point of contact or interaction, especially between a business and its customers)
- Identify the friction, blockage or problem and ask the (who, what, why, when, how …) questions to identify the issues.
- Start with the end in mind creating your ideal customer experience and interactions then rework the processes.
- Test and refine the process until the touchpoints flow with ease creating the required level of customer satisfaction.
When a customer identifies a problem, thank them and reward them, you have probably lost custom from tens of other customers that did not speak up. Be transparent about your mistakes and commit openly to putting it right quickly and report back.
Empower your frontline employees putting in place a feedback-loop system that asks the people closest to an event and the customers for their valued input and feedback. You must ask the customer to survey their level of satisfaction then measure and rate your performance feeding it back into the organisational improvements perhaps in a traffic light system. Negative surveys are actually very powerful because then you know what you have done right, done wrong, and how you can improve on the touchpoints.
Any product or service is a commodity and where customer value speed of interaction then you can increase automation and self-service utilisation. MacDonald has moved much of its order service to automated touch screen for a fast experience. It is important to know your customers preferences to design the experience that works for your customer rather than what works for your company.
The easier you make your customers journey, the more enjoyable their experience the loyal your customer becomes and the more word of mouth recommendation you receive. Amazon is constantly innovating the customer experience and disrupting with try before you buy. Whether you are B2C or B2B, how can you get your potential customer to try before they buy?
Why not contact me to discuss improving your customers experience?