The world of customer experience is changing. Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, helps put this change into perspective:
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 people. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 people”
Customers have access to numerous online and offline channels and they are not afraid to let the world know if an experience hasn’t lived up to their expectations. According to a study by Walker, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in 2020. There has never been a more important time to take control of your customer experience.
Given the lack of time and resources across organisations, customer experience often drops down the priority list. The following five step guide has been put together for time conscious corporates that are looking to put a stronger focus on customer experience.
Step 1: Take a step back
Before any changes are made to a customer journey it is essential to look at the big picture. Put aside an hour and map out your key customer journeys. Keep it simple - focus on one or two key customer types. For instance, if you are selling a physical product you may map out one journey for a retailer and another journey for an individual who purchases online.
I often see companies make the mistake of only focusing on the obvious customer touch points (such as interactions during purchase). Don’t be one of them. Make sure to look at the complete customer lifecycle, from awareness (how do your customers find out about you?) all the way to post-purchase (what happens after the customer has bought your product?). Check out this article I wrote recently highlighting For further detail on this, refer to my recent article highlighting four leading brands that look at the complete customer lifecycle.
By preparing this high level view, improvement opportunities in your existing customer journeys will become much more apparent.
Step 2: Reach out for feedback
A startup has the benefit of having a more intimate relationship with customers than a larger organisation so you need to work to engage with and develop closer relationships with customers in order to generate the insights you’ll need to optimise their experience. If you happen to be working on a new product for a large organisation, your early adopters will be your most valuable asset. Gain a better understanding of your business by sending a simple survey to your customers for some feedback or even try identifying a handful of customers to have a quick conversation with.
During their early days, Airbnb invested significant time interviewing users in NYC to better understand their needs and wants. Paul Graham, a leading Venture Capitalist, shared a fascinating email exchange he had with another VC about investing in Airbnb in 2009. During the emails Paul emphasises that it was a “very good sign that these guys were actually on the ground in NYC hunting down (and understanding) their users”.
Avoid falling into the trap of only making changes to the customer journey when you receive a negative email from a customer - be proactive and gain feedback before it even gets to that point. You would be surprised how many early adopters actually want to help you hone your customer experience, particularly as it benefits them.
Step 3: Add some personalisation
Often data points needed to personalise customer journeys are right at your fingertips. Date of birth is an effective data point that you can use. Explore offering customers discounts on their birthdays - it is human nature to want to feel special and splurge on your own birthday. One of my favourite examples of a company that uses date of birth well is Singapore Airlines. They are known to provide a special surprise (birthday cake) to customers who are celebrating their birthday while travelling 40,000 feet in the air.
Another way to personalise the journey is to leverage previous customer purchase information. For instance, try asking a customer for feedback a month after they have made a purchase or even consider offering a discount on a complimentary product to the one they bought previously.
Make the most of the information you have about your customers and ensure you add these personalised moments to the customer journey.
Step 4: Wow your Customers
As humans we love to share amazing experiences with other people, whether it be an experience at a retail store, over the phone with an internet provider or at the local cafe. When your experience is on par with expectations it does not garner the same excitement and is rarely discussed or brought up in general conversation.
A study conducted by Zendesk found that:
95% of people who have a bad customer experience share their story with someone, while 87% of people who have a good experience share their story with someone.
Zappos is a company that puts a strong focus on WOW experiences. They provide their repeat customers with surprise shipping upgrades - an order placed before midnight will be at your doorstep the next morning! Meeting expectations does not cut the mustard anymore. Customers that are impressed by a touch point with your business will tell other people. A ‘wow moment’ that has worked well based on my experience is providing random express shipping (for physical products) to loyal customers. Receiving an item after one day when you are expecting to receive it in a week definitely ends up wowing the customer. They are sure to tell someone else about it.
Step 5: Hit up the quick wins
This may be the consultant in me but quick wins are essential, especially when you are short on time. Shortlist the easy and quick improvements you can make to existing customer journeys and start working through these. Track the impact of these changes down the track and continuously look to improve as you move along your own startup journey.
These steps will help you on the path to enhancing your existing customer journeys and ultimately differentiating yourself from your competitors when customer experience overtakes price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Start or revisit your journey today to set up your organisation up for success moving forward.