CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is what trade and retail buyers, consumers, shoppers, agents, business associates and employees experience in their individual and collective interactions with a brand or business. Customer experience has to do with the quality of the relationship between two parties and the effectiveness and respect that the buyer feels. Customer experience is the “Feel Good” factor that leaves a subliminal and lasting impression in the consumer’s heart. A positive experience will keep your customers coming back.

 

Let’s unpack this a little. According to Jake Sorofman, Research VP at Gartner “89% of marketers compete primarily on the basis of customer experience — discrete moments that, together, strengthen or weaken a customer’s preference, loyalty and advocacy.”

Customer experience-1

 

Customer experiences spring from concrete, controllable elements – touchpoints.  Customers lead busy lives, fraught with distractions and responsibilities, and while it is not possible to control the variables leading up to their engagement with your organisation, it is indeed possible to control the touchpoints that they will encounter within your organisation – here you have the opportunity to impress, delight, assure your customers.

 

According to Gartner “customer experience is created by who you are – your people; what you do – your products and services; and how you do it – your business processes, methodologies and service levels. Additionally, and very importantly, it includes the user experience and thoughtful application of design and aesthetics.”

 

A customer journey map is a helpful tool in plotting the various touchpoints it is a diagram that illustrates the steps your customers go through when engaging with your company. Link to diagram!

 

A deliberate customer experience

 

A deliberate customer experience requires collaboration amongst all the departments in a company – from product design and development, marketing, administration, customer service, sales and retail partners.

 

Customer experience-3

In large organisations, a distinct customer experience replies on the complete understanding and buy in of all staff and departments.  This is most successfully achieved through a concise statement, or catch phrase within the organisation that becomes a mental go-to in all scenarios.

 

Customers include your employees – those who you count to deliver on your promises and who are critical to the success of your organisation.  Ensuring that your staff are operating from their strengths and that they have the skills necessary to deliver excellent service and represent your organisation proudly are essential to the reputation and longevity of your image.

 

Customer experience-2

McKinsey provides some guidelines on how to ensure that your employee’s abilities and insights can add to the customer experience:

 

  • Listen to your employees, ensure that there are channels to receive and respond to their feedback.
  • Hire appropriately, attitude should trump other factors, for example a highly credentialed candidate with an unfriendly manner would be a poor choice for a customer relations position.
  • Give staff scope with a purpose rather than rules, this will allow for ownership and improvisation based on genuine insight.

 

 

Another element of customer experience that is important to consider is that of the shopper.  By being in tune with shopping habits of consumers and being receptive to shopper’s needs, it is possible to excel in customer experience – demonstrating a considered response to customer’s needs.  For example, by gathering data of a customer’s buying habits it is possible to offer valuable and surprising extras to your customers such as a digital shopping list, suggested weekly menus, suggestions for supplementary items and so on.

 

Providing an excellent customer experience is well within the reach of any organisation, through observation and plain courteousness you will find that you are well on your way.

 

How do I apply Customer Experience for my brand?

 

  • Attentiveness: be a good listener when engaging with your consumers.
  • Recognition: greeting customers by name goes a long way in making your customer’s feeling validated.
  • Personlisation: remember your customer’s preferences.
  • Consideration: acts like walking customers to the door or assisting them with a heavy load are little gestures that go a long way.
  • Appreciation: consider the ways that you could make your customer’s feel appreciated, special, set apart – notice their loyalty and reward them.
  • Delight: you have won at customer experience if you can achieve an element of delight, that surprising, uplifting moment or gesture that is so unexpected and above and beyond that it elicits a feeling of delight – at the end of an appointment my children’s dentist will blow up a surgical glove and draw a face on to create a chicken balloon and it is well, plain delightful. I appreciate the few extra moments she took to turn our exchange into an experience.

 

It’s these extras, the hand written note, the considerate foot stool at the book shop for children, the remembering of birthdays or how you like your coffee just so, the offer of help to the car, or the welcoming greeting that impress upon your customer the feeling of being valued and build loyalty.

 

If you want to improve the customer experience of your business in the market place, contact one of the Prana consultants for a handy guide to apply CE principles in the most effective way within your organization.  For the months of July and August,  we are offering a free 2 hour consultation session with our CE specialists.  Please email fatima@pranabusinessconsulting.co.za to book your session.

 

References:

http://www.gartner.com/binaries/content/assets/gml/ki-pages/research-primers/a925c1dd-9211-44bf-95af-77163d4b540b_gartner_for_marketers_customer_experience_primer.pdf

https://hbr.org/2010/10/understanding-customer-experie

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/internal-customer-external-customer-11698.html

https://www.mckinsey.de/files/customer-experience-compendium-2016.pdf

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/206760

https://go.forrester.com/wp-content/uploads/Forrester-2017-Predictions.pdf

http://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/customer-experience

 

 

Written by Tracey Kelsey, Tracey has worked in the field of marketing and communications. She has completed an Honours Degree in Marketing Communications at the University of Johannesburg in 2002. Tracey worked in the NGO sector for World Hope International where she compiled course material for an HIV awareness program and at Childline Gauteng where she was involved in fund raising and building a community of support for the children of Childline. She has worked as a freelance photographer for the past seven years, her focus being lifestyle family portraiture.