Shopper Experience: obsesionarse con volver a imaginar la experiencia del cliente
Author: Michael Fertik
The idea of being “customer-centric” is percolating throughout businesses in every industry. Why? Because the research shows businesses that put the customer at the center of everything — from product development to marketing to operations — realize increased customer lifetime value and reduced churn.
We’ve known this for years. RightNow’s 2011 Customer Experience Impact Survey found 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, and 89% of consumers surveyed have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. On the flipside, McKinsey reports that, on average, brands that improve CX increase revenue 10-15%. But what does it really mean to be customer-centric?
Historically, companies made decisions about how to develop, market and deliver their products based on internal business initiatives. Services-based industries focused on operations — cutting costs and simplifying service delivery. The “what’s in it for me” approach worked back then, when competition was scarce for most market sectors, and money was what made all the difference in brand awareness.
But that’s all changed. The social nature of brand development has disrupted traditional approaches to product/service delivery and overall brand management, forcing companies to focus on delivering what customers want, rather than telling them what they should buy, and where and how to buy it. If you think you can sink millions into expensive ad campaigns and recover from a social media crisis or too many bad reviews, think again. Customer experience is literally everything — and if you don’t remove friction from it, you’ll lose. It’s that simple.
Put Yourself In the Customer’s Shoes
Customers are self-centered, albeit by accident. They don’t care what your business initiatives are. They don’t care about the operational challenges you face behind the scenes. All they care about is how easy — or difficult — it is to interact with your brand and the products or services you offer. That’s because it’s all they see. If there’s friction in the process of interacting with your company, you fail to establish a positive connection.
For example, we’ve all experienced the frustrating hunt for contact information when we have a customer service issue. Companies who receive a lot of calls often bury their contact info deep in their website, replacing human interaction with IVR systems and chatbots to save money. Sure, AI is improving those non-human interactions. But what message do you send by suppressing or discouraging other forms of communication? What risk are you taking by forcing customers to contact you through specific channels — channels that are easier for you to manage? That’s not customer-centric thinking.
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Retailers often hire secret shoppers to come in and grade the experience in retail locations. This is a good model for any business to follow. But most companies don’t have any idea what it’s really like to be one of their customers. I wonder how many CEOs and senior staff actually take the journey that the customer takes when they interact with their company and its products. This is an important step in understanding what your customers want, and how you can create meaningful connections with them through a better experience. This is the only way to drive loyalty and advocacy (and revenue) in an increasingly competitive world in which CX is your only true differentiator.
Be Obsessed with CX
To remove friction from the interactions with your customer, you must become obsessed with re-imagining the customer experience. Here are some ways forward-thinking companies are leapfrogging competitors by keeping CX at the core of their business strategies:
- An obvious example is e-commerce giant Amazon and its one-click purchase and Prime next-day delivery combo. Amazon has made is completely frictionless to buy something — anything — and have it delivered to your door within 24 hours. You can’t beat that — except by offering a frictionless return process (which they also do). They walked in the customer’s shoes and re-imagined how the online shopping experience should look from start to finish.
- Specialty retailers are distinguishing their brick-and-mortar locations with experiential retail strategies. Take Golf Galaxy, for example, where shoppers can have their golf swing analyzed before they purchase a new club, practice their putting or sign up for lessons. Athletic wear retailer Lululemon offers yoga lessons and meeting facilities at some locations. I don’t even have to describe the experience at Apple stores — you already know about it.
- Insurance industry disruptor Lemonade completely changed the industry’s business model, providing an app-based experience with zero paperwork. They use AI to improve the underwriting and claims process, removing friction and enabling faster responses. It only takes 90 seconds to sign up for a plan, and a chatbot named Maya leads you through the process.
As evidenced by these three examples, the disruptors are entirely focused on the customer’s experience, and obsessed with meeting the expectations of today’s customers.
The Data is Out There. It’s Time to Tune in and Take Action
To truly understand how you can reinvent your customer’s experience, start by listening. Find out what people are saying about your brand and locations by tuning into social posts and reviews. This is where the truth lies — not just in structured NPS surveys or website interaction data.
In his latest LinkedIn post, my colleague Joe Fuca, CEO at Reputation.com, talks about how critical it is for enterprises to know what people are saying publicly about their brand in reviews and on social media. Re-imagining CX, he says, isn’t possible without insights from this «data in the wild.” And it goes without saying that businesses can’t compete without strong reputation and CX management.
Unfiltered feedback lives on the internet, in social communities and review sites. Pay attention to it. Then use AI-powered analytics to analyze and understand what customers are saying, and put in place a process to take action on what you discover.