A brief history of consumer habits
Back in the day, there were shops and there were customers. We bought, sold, haggled and talked. We tried and tested products while physical mail kept us connected. We all used “Dear Sir” and “Dear Madam” until the telephone arrived. Then we dialled, talked and received calls from people we couldn’t see.
Shops grew into businesses and customers became consumers. Babies boomed and fell in love with faxes, then with mobile phones, computers and handheld devices under the influence of the World Wide Web. We shopped online, surfed, searched and streamed – live digital dreams. We also downloaded, upgraded, blogged, reviewed and rated. Gen X sent emails, messages and texts, touching screens and tapping apps. They talked about trending, tweeting, clicking, swiping, liking and un-liking. And social networks took over our lives.
Gen Y then started sharing everything online thanks to selfies, updates, live chats, instant feedback and opinion polls. A billion shops were opened online, and brands were now able to sell to billions of customers.
The new consumer
Due to all these technological advances, today’s consumer has vastly different and more sophisticated expectations of products, services, values and the environment than five or even three years ago. The market is confronted with unprecedented change. Economic turmoil and technological advances are combining to reshape the economic landscape faster than some organisations are able to react.
So, how can organisations stay in touch? How do they remain relevant? What should they focus on? Is it on products, services, customers, employees, profits or reducing costs? Well, the solution is not really a miracle and yet more and more companies are struggling to find that key, that magic formula.
With this in mind, let me introduce you to the star of our topic today… Mrs Customer Experience. Look nowhere else. She’s the one for your organisation. She is what lies behind your success, the reason why you will exceed expectations, the weapon against your fierce rivals, she will be the KHALEESSI of your kingdom… But be careful, treat her well and pamper her or else she WILL divorce you and I am not sure that it will be easy to get her back. In fact, according to research by the publisher Lynn Grady, it would take 16 times more effort to bring her back, and a LOT of money.
What is CX?
Customer experience, or CX, is the experience that customers believe they have had of your brand and as an organisation, you need to manage and monitor this perception very closely.
Your brand image is based on your customer’s perception and involves:
- How they perceive your organisation
- How you communicate with them
- What messages you send
- The products and services that you sell
- How your products and services are sold
- What happens after the sale
- Who engineers your products
- How your products are engineered
- What is going on inside your company
- Who is leading your company
It is all about how you differentiate your brand from others, ensuring that you invest in the right areas, deliver a memorable and positive experience and control costs.
Getting CX right
A well-devised CX strategy will address all these areas and most importantly help in identifying the “moments of truth”. Moments that will not only be measured at certain points of contact but throughout the relationship with the customer using a cyclical approach:
- First purchase cycle
- Renewal cycle
- And much more….
For example, a customer could buy a product in a store, be well advised by a salesperson, and subsequently answer a survey by SMS indicating a high level of satisfaction.
However, once the customer gets home, they may have trouble using the product, or even have unpleasant surprises in the weeks to come.
For instance, they could be charged, during their holiday abroad, for using their “all-inclusive international and forever unlimited internet package”.
As a result, the customer that you thought satisfied, can quickly turn into a dissatisfied one and even become a brand detractor, someone who aims to draw people away from your brand, especially if your customer service does not manage the frustration or is content to shift the fault to some other department.
There is also a tendency today towards a dilution of responsibilities, due to the multiplicity of contact points and communication channels.
Therefore, it is extremely important to measure satisfaction throughout the entire customer journey and detect pain points. These different milestones in the customer journey generally correspond to the “moments of truth” mentioned above, i.e. moments of truth when the customer relationship is at stake.
The customer journey
According to Shep Hyken, an American customer service expert, author, and speaker, these moments of truth can be bad, average or good. Hyken refers to these milestones as “Moments of Misery”, “Moments of Mediocrity” and “Moments of Magic”.
In order to avoid being seen as distant or transactional, companies need to:
- Carry-out an extensive analysis of customer behaviours
- Establish an electrocardiogram of customers’ most memorable moments including details of the instants where they should be given extra-special attention and also information that highlights their pain points
- Identify concrete actions they need to take in order to:
- Conquer (Trigger and initial consideration-set): Capture clients prior to the “Trigger point” through social networks, digital lead management…
- Convert (Active evaluation & Moment of purchase): Merchandising, brand identity, innovation & connectivity
- Increase customer loyalty (Moment of purchase, Post-purchase): Loyalty programs
- Create an integrated multi-channel customer experience: Knowledge and scoring the customer history…
CX is neither a trend nor a fancy term crafted by some random marketing-savvy guy. In my opinion, it is a crucial part of the customer journey and should be an integral part of your organisation’s work process, systems and structure. To quote Chris Meyer (an entrepreneur, author, and strategy consultant): ‘Although companies know a lot about customers’ buying habits, incomes, and other characteristics used to classify them, they know little about the thoughts, emotions, and states of mind that customers’ interactions with products, services, and brands induce. Yet unless companies know about these subjective experiences and the role every function plays in shaping them, customer satisfaction is more a slogan than an attainable goal.’
I strongly believe you need to get your CX right so that your brand can deliver a unique, cross-channel customer experience, build a personal relationship with each customer and offer an easy experience throughout the entire customer journey on a daily basis.
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Management consultant – SQLI Paris