Tuesday, 26 June 2012

How to create fabulous customer experiences

According to Bain and Co. 95% of firms say they are customer focused, with 80% claiming they deliver a superior customer experience. Asking the same questions of these firm’s customers the survey found that only 8% agreed they received a superior customer experience. (Closing the delivery gap)

So what can you do to make sure you are creating great customer experiences from the point of view of your customers?

1. Think Outside In
Most people will describe their business from the inside – mapping out a service or product for the company employees to understand. If you look at your business from the outside in then you will get into the customer experience – you will see what they see when they interact with any part of your business.

To do this you need to get into your customers mind space, environment and see the world through their eyes. Literally, find ways to live a day in the life of your customer.

When I worked as a brand manager at Birds Eye Walls, many years ago, we had to spend 1 day /evening a month doing something with our target customers – this included attending a knitting circle, helping a mum prepare dinner for her 3 kids and going to bingo. It was cheap, easy to do and generated a wealth of insight into our customers’ world which would have been difficult to gain from purely formal research.

2. Know your customers’ touch points
Touch points are all the moments at which your customer interacts with your company, product or brand. Look at everything with which your customer comes into contact - from your branding, communication channels, vehicles of delivery (face to face, online, mobile), marketing materials, processes (purchasing, invoicing, delivery) communication, follow up, customer service, people, signage, physical space.

Really get into detail here. Focus on the need or desire that the customer is trying to fulfill by using your service and then map the touch points by channel (website, phone, face to face etc) and by activity or tool (brochure, customer helpline, instruction manual, packaging etc).

3. Map the experiences
Once you know where, how and when your customers are engaging with your brand (or the industry that you work in), you need to get an experience of your own business or industry through their eyes. At each touch point ask what are they thinking, feeling, doing, seeing, and hearing.

This should not be an exercise based on what you perceive your customers to experience, it should focus on what they actually experience. So you need to be honest. You need to be rigorous. And you need to involve everyone in your business. Experience the touch points yourself, as a customer not as an employee or business owner. Use qualitative and quantitative data to get the facts in relation to the experience. 

4. Tear up your business model
There is no point in doing a customer experience exercise if nothing is going to change as a result. So it’s time to tear up the existing business model and processes (for a moment at least!) and see where and how you can enhance the experience. 

Ask - What works, what doesn’t? What imperfections have been overlooked? How can we find ways to go beyond expectations and thrill our customers? What would make their day? How can you make the interactions easier, faster, safer and more engaging for them?

You should develop a clear understanding of what each touch point is for (why it is there and what it is meant to do for the customer) and know how the individual parts interact with each other to build up a complete picture of the customer experience.

5. Develop the long term game plan
It is sometimes tempting to focus on one big market event, major launch or relaunch of a product or service and believe that this is sufficient to deliver great on-going customer experiences.

Experience is built up of small moments of wow. It’s the smiley face in your coffee, an unexpected gift, a new widget, a customer care employee that goes the extra mile and memories ignited through photos shared.

Developing a pipeline of moments for your customers throughout your touch points, enables them to discover and experience your brand over time keeping it fresh, engaging and one step ahead of customer needs. 

Image by Edanly

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