The Age of Customer Experience

We live in an age of instant gratification, which poses little room for error when it comes to receiving the very best customer experience.  Rapid disruption in the business world is making the investment and focus on customer journey more crucial than ever before.

With competition to become the best in customer experience management on a steep rise, it is also becoming the deciding factor for whether or not a company makes it or … does not.   And there is no sign of the uptick in competition coming to a halt any time soon Gartner found.  In 2010, only 36% of companies competed based on customer experience.  In 2016, that number jumped to 89% and is only expected to continually increase.

A good experience does not just mean a messy situation being cleaned up efficiently or sharing information in a nice manner.  A good experience means a blissful customer journey from beginning to end, which any company would hope is infinite.

What makes customer-obsessed companies stand out from the rest?

There are companies that offer good customer service, and then there are companies that utterly obsess over their customers.  The obsessive companies provide personalized experiences, amazing perks, and quality products or services.  Listening to customers is their number one priority.  Taking advantage of data and technology, they create a seamless journey and are able to provide unbeatable service and support regardless of each unique situation that could occur.

Here are some companies that know what’s up when it comes to taking care of business:

Apple

The big kahuna of the tech retail world has nailed the challenge of creating a seamless customer journey.  Take the iPhone for example.  Starting from the research phase to the purchasing phase, each step of the journey is flawless.  It begins with a clean and slick website, making it intuitive for all-aged consumers to navigate.  Once a purchasing decision is made, communication is made easy with the ability to receive updates via text message or email.  Right down to the moment the product is in the customer’s hand, sliding the high-quality cardboard lid of the iPhone box off is a gratifying experience.  An often-overlooked step, great packaging is the cherry on top of any good buying experience.  Approximately 95% of companies fail every year due to one simple thing: package design.  When customers don’t have the time or energy to do enough research into a product prior to purchase, they do the easy thing: check out the packaging.

Disney

It’s no surprise this company consistently ranks as one of the top when it comes to customer experience.  They have gauged what it means to be able to be successful in a world of multi channel technology while being seamless at the same time.  Responsiveness through all channels is impeccable, drawing in great interest from the start.  Disney has furthermore created a compact and cool “magic band” for their visitors.  This band not only acts as a hotel room key, but also as a ride server, method of payment, and even access to all photos taken throughout the parks.  With an increase in customer experience comes the ROI for Disney which is an increase in revenue resulting from the extreme ease at which one can spend money with the band.

Zappos

Temkin Group recently reported that loyal customers are 5X more likely to repurchase and forgive a company, 7X as likely to try a new suggested offering, and 4X as likely to refer other people.  Zappos is king of the castle when it comes to building a loyal customer base. When they are out of stock of a product, instead of turning you away to fend for yourself, they provide you with a link to a competitor website who has the product available for purchase.  As more incentive, return customers may even receive surprise-shipping upgrades upon returning to shop.  Don’t second guess them yet, they also have their company phone number visibly placed on the top corner of their website.  Can you remember the last time you didn’t have to spend at least 5 minutes searching for something that should be so obvious?

How to Improve the Customer Experience

There was a time in which a customer could communicate with a company in no more than three ways – a phone call, a handwritten letter, or a personal visit to the brick and mortar location.  Shortly after came the capability to send a fax or email.  Fast-forward to today and there are more than a handful of channels we prefer to utilize when it comes to getting our message across.  These channels include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and many more.  Not to mention, there is an expectation to receive a nearly immediate response.

What happens when we don’t receive a response we are pleased within the time we expect to?  We complain.  We don’t always complain to the company directly, but we are more likely to share our bad experience than good experience.  All the same, we also share our good experiences.  That only means one thing for business: it has a greater chance of going downhill.  At the end of the day, no excuse is valid in our eyes when we do not receive the service we believe we should.

There should be one commonplace for all interactions and data to live.

The first time a customer reaches out may be by phone to speak to a representative.  The second time may be via live chat online.  The third could be a direct Tweet regarding an inquiry.  Regardless of the channel they choose to communicate through, the customer views each conversation as one large one, expecting that every time they interact with the company, they will not have to provide background information from previous communication.  They will go through the easiest and most convenient channel for them, always.

There is no “I” in “TEAM”.

Customers don’t care about who they’re talking to and in what department when they need help.  The reason they are coming to you in the first place is to resolve a problem.  Shutting a person down because you work in a department that is different than the appropriate one to give them the help they need is unacceptable.  That’s why keeping all interactions and data in one place is crucial.  It allows all players on all teams to work as just that, a team.

Consistency in an organization creates consistency for the customer.

There is nothing more frustrating than being pushed around to a million different people when you are simply looking for guidance with a product or service.  As companies grow, the number of teams and processes grow too.  If you are looking to build a loyal customer base, consistency is key.  Nobody wants to have to play games and receive conflicting information and explanations.  That only leads to confusion and eventually a loss of confidence in the company from the customer’s perspective.

What role does the representative play in providing a positive customer service experience?

Just like anything else in life, actions speak louder than words.  The role a company representative plays in customer experience is crucial to the company’s reputation and creation of loyal customers.  Nobody wants to be helped by someone who is useless.  What does that say about the company?  Nothing good, that’s for sure.

Marketing and actions should focus on building relationships and metrics that expand well beyond the Return On Investment (ROI) to include Return On Relationship (ROR).  Let’s take a look back at Apple, for example.  On top of their exemplary customer journey, their employees know how to treat customers like gold.  You walk into an Apple store and are surround by not just one, but at least 15 Apple “Geniuses” there to help you.  It’s about making the customer feel welcomed, important, and special.

What can you do to improve customer experience?

The answer is simple.  Treat them as important as they are.  After all, they are what is keeping your company afloat.  It’s not always about them having to show their appreciation for your product/service.  Set yourself away from the crowd and show them how much you appreciate their business.  Sending a little something to say Thnks is always a good idea.

Written by: Ariella Sharf, Editor and Founder of Heart and Vogue