Customer Experience may be the single most important investment a brand can make. In this latest article, we share practical advice to meet the needs of your customer, alongside four inspirational case studies.
It has been well documented that bad experiences are shared more often than good experiences.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon 1
The best customer experiences are achieved when an emotional connection is made. There are also some bottom-line benefits to be gained. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article emotionally engaged customers are at least three times more likely to recommend and re-purchase your product or service, less likely to shop around, and much less price sensitive. 2
1. Canadian company David’s Tea (stylised as DAVIDsTEA), was launched in 2008 promoting values of great product, friendly stores and exceptional customer service. While it now has almost 200 stores in Canada and USA, and over 160 flavours, their significant online presence relies on customers purchasing products without tasting them first. Recognising customers’ desire to ‘try before they buy’, DAVIDsTEA offers three free samples with every order, and an effortless return policy. By encouraging customers to discover new products free of charge, they have understood the ‘risk’ the customer is taking buying a product they have not tasted.
2. Rewards aren’t the only way to offer the best customer experience – Starbucks also has an impressive membership offer. Using their mobile app, customers can customise drinks to their detailed specifications from the comfort of their home or office, or on the way to the store. On arrival they are greeted by warm smiles and a cup with their name handwritten, bypassing the line like the VIPs they are.
3. Disney’s success has always been built around their commitment to making dreams come true. To preserve the experience for the child in us all, cast members are always in character and if, for example, a guest drops their ice cream cone, Disney will happily replace it free of charge. This is Disney’s way of reaffirming the impossible is possible for their customers.
4. For Amazon, it’s not just about innovating. Instead, it’s about innovating in ways that directly impact their customer. For example, Amazon Go grocery stores offer an impressively seamless shopping experience. With each step, Amazon demonstrates a commitment to pushing the boundaries on behalf of their customers.3
For my husband it might be the local organic grocer where is he is known by name, and his product preferences equally well known. For me it is hard to go past the aroma of fresh coffee, a friendly barista, gentle level of talking in balance with the music and lots of natural light.
The only person who can answer that question accurately is the customer, so there are as many answers as there are customers.
Building a relationship with the people you do business with enhances their experience and makes it more valuable for both parties. Relationship building enhances the level of service you provide customers. The more a business gets to know the customer, the better tailored their experience to meet their specific needs.
Ultimately the product or service is the reason your customers come to you. Providing a high-quality product and service that helps them achieve their goals is integral to good customer experience design. Examples of good products and services across leisure and hospitality might be the comfort of hotel beds, freshness of produce, the aesthetics and acoustics of a room, memory filled aromas or the thoughtfulness and warmth of a staff member.
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” – Seth Godin, best-selling author.
To make sure your product is meeting customers’ needs, collecting feedback is essential. Continuously checking in with the customer to gauge their perceptions through surveys and conversation is the best way for businesses to learn what they are doing well and figure out where to improve.
By designing a delightful customer experience, you are making existing customers happy, and opening the door to many more new ones. Customer delight is created through unexpected little extras. A surprise that exceeds expectations might be a take-home box from a restaurant with a midnight snack or base ingredients for breakfast the next morning to continue the customer relationship, the retail attendant offering to carry your purchase to the car, a new product sample, or just some kind words on a tough day.4
As well as having strong product and services it is integral to enable your customers to engage easily. For many popular, in-demand shops, the traditional walk-in or call-ahead is no longer enough.
As customers become more empowered to discover solutions and information on their own through the internet and social media, the demand for increased service convenience grows. Having succinct and useful information on your website is a best practice that provides customers with the ability to help themselves out of hours.
Customer expectations have never been more important, and word-of-mouth a key referral. As the customer becomes even more empowered, it increases the importance of the customer service experience. Meeting customers where they are and taking the opportunity to engage them when they are most interested or in need of help.
Connecting and providing relevant content to customers means your business must first determine which channels your customers are most active on so you can adapt your approach and serve them.
Customer experience is an area that needs constant monitoring. With a greater focus on customer experience strategy and feedback, organisations will realise a positive impact on customer loyalty, higher retention and increased revenues.
Photography credit: Theresa Harrison (MFWF)