Imagine a day in the life of a consumer (me):
I walk into a store to buy a gadget from Brand A. I notice that Brand B has a gadget with similar features on sale, at a significantly lower price. As a customer, I realize Brand B “is good enough” it gives me what I want at a lower price, and I decide buy that instead. There is no possible reason that I would stick to Brand A.
Or is there?
If this were the case in every potential buying scenario, what accounts for customer brand loyalty and translated into ground breaking sales for companies like Zappos, FedEx and Apple? Apple certainly doesn’t give you the cheapest products, and the competition might outperform FedEx.
The answer is simple: A Game changing Customer experience.
There exist a handful of companies in the market that understand the importance of giving their customers an experience few others can claim to match. Let’s look at Zappos shoes. One of their core values is ‘to provide the best customer service possible’. This covers a 365-day period within which shoes ordered on their site can be returned and replaced. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg –their customer service executives often go beyond the scope of regular customer service to satisfy a customer. Zappos got what they wanted and are one of the world’s top companies in customer service. And they certainly didn’t achieve this magically… they followed one simple principle: give your customers more than they expect.
As Jim Hays (Innovator Integrators) says: “There should be no surprises unless they are surprisingly delightful”
With today’s cut-throat competition, constant price fluctuations and more products out by the hour, what “extra something” helps your organization stand out to your customers? Companies like Apple bank on constant innovation. But it’s impossible for every company to function like that. Most, in fact, end up being incremental improvers – tweaking their product when an upgraded feature has been released in the market, and ensuring that the price point stays on the same level as the competitions’. This incremental improvement sees everyone running a race at the same pace.
The truth is, to customers everywhere, the impression of a company and memory of a previous experience, good or bad, influences decisions above and beyond day-to-day discounts and deals. In a consumer research conducted worldwide, over half the respondents said they were willing to switch brands or companies just to get better customer service. Adding to that, 9 out of 10 customers said they would probably be repeat customers if they had a good experience with a company.
Any company can hardly afford to ignore those figures. Your organization can capitalize on these numbers and work towards giving your customer a better experience. But before we get there, let’s answer a few basic questions and see what your company is doing right (or not):
- Are you, as an organization, making an effort to reach out to the customer, proactively, and not just on issues, but in ways they have never expected?
- Are you engaging the customer, instead of bombarding them with mainly one-way communication (like advertisements)?
- Do you and your employees genuinely understand the “outcome” your customer wants from your product or service, and know what things can create negative moments of truth along the journey to that outcome?
If your answer for all the above is ‘no’, then look out for my next posts for an idea of how your organization can improve your customers’ experience.
 2011 Global Customer Service Barometer, American Express