On Customer Experience
There’s certainly nothing new about focusing on the customer experience to differentiate a business. Over the past decades, brands have rocketed to iconic status by doing just that. Think Apple, Virgin, Starbucks, and Disney. The difference today is that empowered consumers (B2C) and buyers (B2B) are demanding more. Not just in lower price, but in better service as well. According to a 2010 American Express study, Americans are willing to spend 9% more with companies that provide excellent service. The same study showed that 91% of customers believe that customer service is important, but only 24% actually feel they get the service they deserve. It’s no wonder that brands with better customer experiences are outperforming their competitors.
Companies that wholeheartedly focus on the customer experience usually enjoy these benefits:
- Reduced churn among customers and employees
- More predictable revenues
- Less advertising expense
- Lower new customer acquisition costs
- Noticeably better internal alignment
- More unsolicited referrals
- Greater brand awareness
For all these reasons, companies that deliver better experiences operate more profitably than others in their category. Great experiences don’t just happen and PowerPoint presentations alone can’t make them a reality! They occur when all functions of the operation align with one another to achieve the outcomes your customers seek.Good customer experience design starts with understanding what your customers care about most. Understanding which promises are most important to your customers, then aligning your organization to make and keep them, is the leader’s most important role. When what the customers want most is what the business does best, the ‘rising tide effect’ kicks in and everyone benefits.
Which Industries Benefit Most?
Service brands with branded locations, high transaction volumes, multiple channels, and/or many interactions between customers and employees are the biggest users of customer experience design. Retailers (any business with a cash register, really), healthcare facilities, entertainment companies, hospitality providers (including hotels, restaurants, and travel providers), and professional services firms are the fast-adopting users. Customer Experience is also practiced by B2B and industrial firms, especially for inbound sales, design centers, sales processes, and mobile apps.
Is Customer Experience Design For You?
Your company could probably benefit from Customer Experience Design if you answer YES to three or more of these questions:
- Is my industry being commoditized? Do I fear having to compete on price?
- Does my business involve a large degree of customer service in any or all the channels (in-store, phone, web, mobile, face-to-face)?
- Have competitors introduced positive changes that my customers are noticing?
- Am I in a highly competitive space?
- Are new product or service introductions quickly matched by the competition?
- Has finding best-fit employees and suppliers become more difficult?
- Am I spending too much time winning back customers?
- Are your customers, prospects, or employees confused about how your brand’s promises are different from any of your competitors?
- Does getting everyone on the same page feel more difficult now?
- Are my processes dictating my customer’s experience?
- Do different departments and functional areas within my business often seem unsynchronized resulting in disappointed customers?
Working on just the customer-facing parts of the experience without working on the business processes that make the experience happen consistently better and more profitably isn’t sustainable. That’s why experience design should be used twice. Once to design the experience, then again to get the experience to ‘fit’ within the constraints of the company. These guidelines can help lead to the best approach.
The best customer experience designs find the right promises to make and the practical and profitable ways to keep them. Customer experience design achieves results that other methodologies can’t because it:
- Successfully ties the brand to the business
- Shows how front line staff, supported by operations, can profitably deliver a superior experience
- Details what’s important in experience delivery without removing the magic of surprise and great service
Good Experience Design Begins And Ends With Story.
The organizations that win at word of mouth, owe thanks to their customers. They translate great experiences into stories which, in turn, create the desire for others to have the same experience. This simple formula works well because it uses design as a bridge building tool to connect the emotions of people with the rational delivery abilities of a business. מערכת אומניצנל
First, Listen To Customers.
The focus needs to be on customers. Listen intently to learn what points of differentiation will be most meaningful from their point of view. A great variety of research tools from traditional interviews to modern techniques like anthropology-inspired observation and facial profiling help identify just which experience encounters have the potential to create raving fans. Often this step also involves examining the behavior and ‘hot buttons’ of competitors’ customers.
Then, Listen To Employees.
Dig deeply into the attitudes and behaviors of employees, particularly those in customer-facing positions. The objective is to understand how clearly they recognize and respond to the little touches and clues that can truly differentiate the brand. Insights gained from this step help assure that the final experience design will be readily adopted.