Customer Experiences - The Key Messages

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1 Customer Experiences - The Key Messages 1 - Traditional Differentiators are no longer working One question to always ask is "what are your key points of difference". Most struggle with this question, some may talk about points of difference they once had, or points of difference they would like to have and some talk about differences they believe they now have, however under closer scrutiny they concede that in the eyes of their customers they are really not value driven points of differences. Fact of the matter is that, your competitors can copy most points of differences very easily especially if they believe you are gaining market share through a point of difference. Business is full of organizations that keep up with the market by copying an idea from their competitors. They will never be seen as innovative or market leaders and unless a competitor develops a point of difference, that is hard to copy, they will properly maintain a reasonable market share. This makes the customer experience concept so much more powerful, because it is very hard to copy. When you have a concept that is based on leadership, culture and people, by its very nature it is difficult to replicate. 2 - A dramatic increase in Commoditisation "What is a novelty today will become a commodity next week or even tomorrow" Jonas Ridderstraie & Kjell Nordstron - Funky Business We are living in an era of excess, unfortunately in most cases it is more of the same. The result is a big impact on margin. When everything is equal, the only thing to talk about is price. It is important for the future success of your business that you move out of the commodity business and into the business of delivering your customers a unique, memorable and sustainable experience, one that adds value from their perspective. 3 - Operational v Customer Focus Most businesses are set up in two ways. One is from an operational perspective. Operationally focused organisations look at what they do from the inside-out, they make decisions based on what they think the customer wants. These operationally focused businesses generally know a lot about the physical side of the business and how that may benefit the customer, however they lack knowledge of the real reasons customers are doing business with them. Successful companies in the future will have a total customer focus, they look at everything they do from the outside - in, from the customers perspective. The difference is that they spend a lot of time understanding their customers. The result being, a much stronger relationship and a greater knowledge of the customer's world. When you build a stronger relationship with your customers, you are much more likely to discover why they are buying from you and how you can improve future offerings. Strong customer relationships build loyalty and loyalty leads to advocacy, the most powerful form of advertising.

2 4 - Physical v Emotional Recent research shows that the emotional element of the experience you have as a customer can account for up to 50 percent of the total experience. The question is are you taking into account the emotional side of your customer experience? We measure the performance of any organization we do business with, emotionally. Emotions are feelings, and its how we feel about the experience with organizations that in most cases determines if we will return. You will not succeed unless you have the physical side of your business fully developed; however, understanding how a customer feels about doing business with you will determine your ultimate success. In evaluating a customer experience, customers ask themselves questions like:- How did they treat me? Was I just another customer or did the treat me as an individual? Did they take the time to understand my real needs? How did they react when something went wrong? Did they add any value to the experience? 5 - Are your people a differentiator? People can be a powerful differentiator, in fact by adopting a customer experience strategy your people will be one of your key points of difference. However, only the RIGHT people will be this. The wrong people delivering your customer experience will be doing your business a tremendous amount of harm and in most cases, you will not know. The key is to ensure that only the right people are delivering you customer experience. Find the right people, with the right attitude and personality, people who enjoy and are passionate about doing the very best for every customer. Ensure they have the skills, resources and empowerment to do what they do best. Seek their ideas and suggestions on how to improve your customer experience and where possible act on them. 6 - Loyalty & Advocacy Loyalty and advocacy are the result of building a great customer experience. Business today is experiencing a lack of both. What is your current strategy to build greater loyalty with your customers, do you have one? It is all about understanding why your customers are doing business with you (what you are selling my not be what your customers are buying) Building strong relationships is the key to loyalty and loyalty leads to advocacy. Remember! Gimmicks do not buy loyalty. There are many so-called loyalty programs out there, these are not loyalty programs, they are gimmicks. The true test of the loyalty you have built with your

3 customers comes when your competitor launches another so-called loyalty program or gimmick. If you have been systematically building strong relationships with your customers and adding value to every interaction, you will have nothing to worry about. 7 - Innovation & Creativity Innovation & creativity is the key to success in a sameness and commoditised market. The good news is that you have the resource within your business now through your people, but may not be utilizing it. This is where your front-line people will come to the fore. By encouraging a culture of innovation, your people will feel more valued, committed and empowered to make more of a difference to the lives of your customers and ultimately your business. Those organizations that are continually looking for new and better ways to look after their customers, from an outside-in customer focus, will be the winners. Why the Concept Works. Points of difference for businesses are becoming harder to find, markets are increasingly crowded, competition is fiercer than ever and there has been a dramatic increase in commoditization. Many companies are sourcing products from the same suppliers or offering similar services, the difference in price from one business to another is often minimal. As this world of sameness engulfs the commercial world, it becomes more important for a business to stand out from the pack. Customer Experiences work on the concept that the entire experience the customer or client receives is the best way for any business to stand out. Only businesses with unique and sustainable differentiators will survive and prosper. In the retail sector, the initial impression before visiting a store, the store layout, the interaction with staff and the after sales service all make up the experience that the customer takes away from the business. This experience will decide whether he or she visits again. All business sectors must realize the strength of customer recommendations. Customer Experiences seeks to garner client loyalty and advocacy. This is gained through a multi-pronged approach. First, businesses must understand the psyche of the customer. In a society bombarded by advertisement and marketing, we are acutely aware of the tricks companies use to entice us into spending money. No amount of advertising can compete with recommendations from friends and family. Customer Experiences helps businesses generate these word-of-mouth recommendations. Companies that embrace the philosophy will have the competitive edge - their profits will grow and their future will be secure. The customer experience is the way of the future. This concept is based on both local and international research and backed up by business leader internationally in both bricks and mortar and web-based companies. This research also shows businesses and organizations that concentrate their energy on building unique and memorable customer experiences and those who engage emotionally with their clients - rather than just their wallets - are the ones that will build strong loyalty and advocacy.

4 Your People are not your greatest Asset The RIGHT people are your greatest asset; you will not be successful in today's economy without them. The WRONG people can bring your business to its knees. It is staggering to find organisations investing money in employees who were clearly not the right people to be in front-line service positions, these business owners are looking for some miracle that will transform these people into customer service super stars. It doesn't work like that. We as customers have all experienced the wrong front-line customer service people, the lack of smile or spark, no empathy, lacking personality, clearly not enjoying their job and letting everyone know through their body language and attitude, how they feel. Great customer experiences are delivered by great front-line people. They have energy, empathy, personality and a willingness to do the best possible job for their customers, every time. These are the people you must find and when you do, LOOK after them, like you would like them to look after your customers. This means investing in their professional development, involving them in the business and the customer experience development, seeking ideas recognising and reward them for the professionals they are. Are You Truly Customer Focused? The only way that you can really answer this question is by asking your customers, so the next question is, are you asking your customers? Most organisations are looking at their business from the inside-out instead of the outside-in Perceptions change dramatically when you under go this mindset change. Today businesses are set up from an operational perspective rather than a customer focused perspective. The difference is significant. Businesses that are set up from an operational perspective look at what they can offer a customer and trust that they get enough customers to make the business viable Operationally focused businesses look at business from their perspective not the customers Operational businesses do not respond well to customers that dont fit what they are delivering Operational businesses will always leave gaps that will allow competitors into the market If operational business ask the customer "how they are doing" in most cases they dont act on the outcomes. Operational business have visions that largely relate to what they want not what the customer needs. Leadership The Key to a Great Customer Experience Leadership is the key facet in any business. Unless someone in charge is providing a well managed, secure, organised and inspirational environment, a business will not grow or move forward. One component of leadership is having very clear values and ideas about what is important. Another is looking after your people. It is critical that you select both the right people to deliver your customer experience and the right leader. These leaders need to role model behaviour and recognise and reward success.

5 People mimic the behaviour of their leaders. If I receive ordinary or poor service, its normally not the fault of the service provider. What I received at the front counter was usually a reflection of the attitude and values of the leader. Its the little things leader do that are scrutinised by their people, how much time they spend with customers, how customer are talked about, where they are placed on the meeting agenda, how staff are recognised for doing a great job. So often, word and actions do not necessarily match. A leader may say all the right things regarding the importance of the customers and then neglect to return phone calls, or avoid direct contact with customers. They may talk about the importance of their people and treat staff in a completely different manner. Why are we not having many great customer experiences?. Why are so many people in front-line positions either the wrong people of the job or unhappy with their work environment. Why do some organisations experience above average staff turnover? In my opinion, the answer is because many businesses lack effective leadership. Leaders must provide direction and develop and inspire people to assist the organisation to achieve its vision.

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