Understanding customers, discovering and managing their behaviours are hot topics for marketing for a long time. However, customer experience is still a new notion in the industry.
Today, different companies sell almost identical products at the same price level. This creates a question. If the price and quality are almost the same, on which criterias do the consumers make their decisions?
In his book Predictably Irrational (2008, HarperCollins) Dan Ariely claims that people make decisions based on their emotions. As many researches confirm this claim, companies started to give much more priority to emotions. In today’s world, it is the customer experience that makes company a lovemark on its customer’s heart. Not the price nor the quality can reach this level. Price and quality are the hygiene factors in people’s eyes.
To create unique customer experiences, companies should follow and apply 4 steps. All strategies need to be built on these 4 steps. I call this shortly, C3E (like an android name in Star Wars). You can find the pyramid below.
1. Company Culture: Well-known management guru Peter Drucker says: “Culture eats strategy at breakfast.” Customer experience strategies cannot be executed if the employees do not have customer centric vision. Even if the management had great strategies and plenty of resources, it would be impossible to apply these. Therefore, the first thing to do is to create a culture where collaboration and teamwork is mandatory, an atmosphere in which it does not important who gets the credit.
If you look at the Amazon, Ritz-Carlton or Apple, you can see that customer is always at the center of organization and all the actions are shaped around the customer. In these companies, the one and only common point is that they put customers as their the most valuable asset and they have a top management who believe this with their hearts. This is the most important step and as you can see, this is not a part of the pyramid. Pyramid stands on this step.
2. Meeting Expectations: The second thing is to define and meet customer expectations. The first step of understanding the needs is simple: Listen! Although it seems simple, most of the companies are not listening their customers or they’re not listening with the correct way or they’re not turning these insights into the actions. As Dr. Ernesto Sirolli explains in his TED talk, sometimes we need to shut up and listen. We shouldn’t work from offices if we want to understand customers’ needs and expectations. We should meet with customers at cafe, at pub, anywhere they want and just listen and get insights from them.
The motives why customers choose this or that must be carefully identified by the companies. And they must be sure about providing “the product” or “the service” to the customers. Celebrating birthdays in the plane or giving 10% discounts for next flight is useless if you’re facing with 20% cancelations and 50% delays in your flights.
3. Enable: Let’s face it, companies are disturbing their customers with unnecessary SMS and e-mails. But whenever customers need the company, they’re getting lost in IVRs and call centers. The most critical thing in “Get Support Journey” is to help customers reach customer representatives at anytime and anywhere. In this manner, omnichannel experiences continue to be one of the most important customer experience trends in 2018. Companies should exist in every channel that customers may want to get contact with them. Information flow between channels and consistency of the information are the crucial issues for better experiences.
4. Creating Emotional Experiences: Emotions are the most memorable thing as Maya Angelou mentioned in this famous quote: “People will forget what you do, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you make them feel”. Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman explains this with his remembering-self concept. Customers can face unwanted experiences, if you don’t think and plan what you’re going to do next and how you can make them feel good again. Successful companies are aware of that and they match their company with positive emotions. Also they use these emotions in every commercials or communications with customers. It’s not a chance that you remember Coca-Cola, when someone says ‘happiness’ or Volvo, when someone says ‘safety’. In Pepsi challenge, participants chose Pepsi when it comes to taste. But in real life, nobody drinks coke with blind eyes. Coca-Cola sells much more than Pepsi because of emotional experience the company created with customers.
It seems that in the beginning of the 21th century, companies which mainly focused in these 4 steps, will be ahead of their competitors. The most critical point to execute these steps is top management’s support. Customer experience KPIs are needed to be set and put top management’s scorecard and monitored permanently. In the near future, with technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IOT), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), customer experience will transform itself and its impact to company strategies will increase.
PS: This article is also published on CX Network and Customer Experience Magazine.