Why your business cannot afford to get the customer experience wrong

Consider for a moment a recent shopping experience you had- either good or bad. What do you remember about it? I bet it was the customer experience itself – and not so much about the product.[1] Am I right?

Poor customer experience is fast track to business failure

A certain large telecommunication company in the UK spends a fortune on marketing and sales. Yet, if you sign on the dotted line, the customer service is so painful that I for one have banned any further telesales calls from them! They clearly have not realised how much more money they could make if they were to create an enjoyable customer experience. As a result cost of sale is massively higher than it should be.[2]

Great customer experience fast tracks growth and profit

Apple realise this. That is why their Stores are designed to be about the experience. Even when I took my parents into a store (my Dad is in the Microsoft camp!) you could see they were fascinated by the buzz.  The stores, unlike other computer stores are designed around:

  • personal interactions with extremely well trained Apple staff- so that they are more about learning and having fun than straight sales
  • about browsing, using and touching the “beautiful” products on offer
    • you get the impression they enjoy you appreciating them, versus other PC stores where it is clear you are there to buy
    • creating a highly charged atmosphere that feels almost like a community

As a result Apple’s sales per square foot are 89% greater than their nearest competitor- Tiffany’s.

Unmemorable customer experiences are a business disaster

Most companies sit in the middle of these 2 examples. As a result they are generally utterly unmemorable and inconsistent in the level of experience delivered. One day a customer may happen to really enjoy the interaction. The next they will talk to someone else and find it frustrating.

Strategically plan a great customer experience

Apple did not just happen to deliver an experience that results in the superb return per square metre of shop space. They specifically went out of their way to design the experience step by step.

The secret is to start seeing the experience through the customers’ eyes. Every company I have come across thinks that they do this- I have yet to find a company that really does!

The first thing is to look at what we call the “touch points” of the experience. For example the main touchpoints an airline may consider are:

Now, if we had asked most airlines, they would have focused on a much narrower  range of touchpoints. They focus on improving the flight itself. That is not how the customer sees it.

Virgin Atlantic realised this. They found that most of the stress and missed expectations came before or after the flight. Therefore, for their most profitable customers they were able to offer services like “Car to lounge” in 10 minutes as well as showers, clothes pressing services etc on arrival.

So, what are the touchpoints of your customers’ whole experience?

How can you find out:

  • where your company is meeting expectations and where not?
  • what emotions your customers experience at each step?

To continue reading click here.

[1] More than 50% of a customer’s decision whether to buy again from a company is due to the emotions they feel during the interaction. From research by Colin Shaw, Beyond Philosophy.

[2] £18bn is wasted every year by consumers trying to sort out issues with bad customer experience. These suppliers only see the short term profits but these customers will spread the word and make it much harder and more costly for them to win more business.

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