According to Gartner, “89% of companies surveyed plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016”. According to Oracle, the percentage is even higher. Regardless, few professionals would argue that the emphasis on an organization’s Customer Experience, (i.e., CX is the product of an interaction, including the resulting perceptions, between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship) is not simply a fad, but an important tool to achieve what industry leaders like Seth Godin and Clay Hebert (among many others), recommend to connect to those vital to that organization. As Ian Altman says in Forbes: “it has become clear that we are in a Connection Economy. “
As we say at TSI, “the Customer Experience is the glue to make the connections come to life.”
Recently, it seems that there is something incongruent with the articles and statistics I read, the experiences we have with our clients and other organizations contemplating new strategies in this area. Perhaps it is just what we are seeing here, I would posit that it appears many companies and higher education institutions are simply going through the motions in this area.
Is your organization in the 89% or the 11%?
How are you approaching this change?
How are you TRULY enhancing your Customer Experience?
I want to use this short article to hit 3 points that will have a BIG impact for your organization in enhancing your customer experience:
1. Start by honing your CX awareness skills; these will pay off for you if you are planning to enhance or improve customer experience within your organization.
2. Rather than simply going through the motions, use CX to create a real, legit, unfair advantage for your organization.
3. Expect the journey to be difficult, but prepare to persevere.
Hone your CX awareness skills
I challenge you to book your next business trip, make a doctor’s appointment, plan a vacation, buy a car, get a mortgage (or refinance your existing one), drive a car in Mexico (well maybe we’ll save that story for another day), apply for a college course (or apply to a university).
After completing one or more of these, take a step back and assess how these experiences were in terms of the following:
1. How ETDBW (Easy to do business with), was this organization, or process? What best reflects the impression the vendor left? Ask yourself the following:
- Do they care about your business?
- Would they rather maximize profit on one transaction, or have you become a loyal customer for a lifetime?
- Does your time matter to them?
- How would you rate the experience overall?
2. Aside from the efficiency and effectiveness aspect of the transaction, did the transaction have any emotional connection that left you with a memory that was more positive, neutral or negative in nature? Many of the readers of this likely saw the video from a recent United flight when a ticketed passenger was removed against his will, simply because the plane was over-booked, and members of the United crew had no room to board. Based on the reaction by United’s CEO, that was not the intended emotional connection the organization was hoping to achieve. And although this example can be seen as an outlier, both in terms of how ridiculous the situation, as well as how vastly the customer’s “experience” was shared on social media, consider the financial effects alone. Fortune reports that United Airlines’ stock has dropped $1.4 Billion since this controversy took place!
In each of these examples, the business or higher education institution on the other end of the transaction, would accurately tell you that they are in a very competitive industry. Yet, at the risk of generalizing, each of these examples is, what we in consulting refer to as “opportunity rich” with respect to how they often fail to create a memorable, meaningful and intentional moment that matters to the customer. Or, in United’s example, just the opposite.
Become a CX Jedi warrior to develop awareness skills that you can apply in your organization.
Your Legit Unfair Advantage
When we consult with our clients or lead CX training workshops on the topic of developing an improved Customer Experience, we emphasize the notion of creating, in very tangible terms, the organization’s unfair advantage (UA). Yeah, it sounds a little like defining your own super power. In fact, it is a LOT like creating your organizational super power.
What do you want to be KNOWN for? What will you be famous for?
We look at it this way – your UA is a function of your organization’s:
Quality x Originality/Uniqueness x Service x Convenience/Comfort/Location x Price
There is a lot to unpack in this formula and you and your colleagues could easily spend a few focused work sessions on this topic. Don’t expect to nail it on the first time. But if you can truly understand, from your customer’s perspective, what are the “moments that matter” and define your unfair advantage that provides a unique and memorable CX, you are on your way.
Yes, it’s hard, but Worth it!
In short, a positively memorable CX matters! Why? It’s certainly a logical leap to think that a customer who has an excellent experience, remembers it. Because of one positive experience, they can tell others about it; sometimes even becoming mini marketers for that product or service. Further, those that are loyal, having had a positive experience are retained, becoming much more likely to buy a product or service over and over.
Consider the following: Studies by Bain & Company, along with Earl Sasser of the Harvard Business School, have shown that even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95 percent.
There are several reasons why this small increase in retention can have such a substantial impact on profits:
1. Customers are likely to spend more with companies they’ve already done business with. Particularly with small businesses that don’t have a lot of brand recognition, a customer’s first purchase or two can be considered somewhat of a risk. So they are likely to keep the cost relatively small, and then increase spending as the relationship grows.
2. Repeat customers are more likely to refer others. Bain & Company’s research showed that after just one purchase from an online apparel retailer, an average shopper was likely to refer three other people to the site. But a customer that made ten purchases from an online apparel retailer was likely to refer seven different people to the site.
Creating a positively memorable experience is HARD! Especially for an organization that has any degree of complexity around the following:
- The types of products/services your customers want;
- How easy or hard, fast or slow, manual or automated, simple or cumbersome it is for you to quote/price the right products/services;
- How easy or hard, fast or slow, manual or automated, simple or cumbersome it is for them to order it, receive it, process the invoice, and actually pay for it.
- What about the delivery, set up/configuration, training, etc., how seamless are these processes?
- Do you have numerous people involved, sometimes with “less than ideal” coordination when you think about those involved from a contracting, pricing, order processing/execution, set up, training, implementation touchpoints?
In closing, I urge you to start this journey. Now. Waiting only lets your competition gain ground on you. Follow the three steps you just learned:
1. Hone your CX awareness skills – these will pay off for you as you can be the CX Jedi that design’s the amazing and enhanced customer experience for your organization.
2. Use CX to create a real, legit unfair advantage for your organization – consider how your organization can effectively complete largely, if not solely, on the basis of the experience.
3. Lastly, expect the journey to be difficult and prepare to persevere – consider TSI’s Change Readiness Survey as a tool to assess your organization’s readiness to change.
As you know, TSI is always happy to discuss your situation, should you need any assistance enhancing your Customer Experience. Regardless, please give us feedback; we love hearing from you! Contact us via our website, or reach out via social media. Be sure to let us know if you’re interested in attending our next CX event (planned for September 20, 2017) at TechNexus in Chicago!
 https://smallbiztrends.com, 2014