Did you know that 80 percent of companies say they deliver great service, but only 8 percent of their customers agree? Whoa. That is a big gap. Customer service and customer experience should be the No. 1 thing on CEOs’ minds. Eighty-nine percent of marketers believe that they will be competing on customer experience by the end of 2017.
Here is the reality… Customer satisfaction is not driven by the customer service that companies say they deliver. How customers feel about their interaction with a company reveals the authenticity of great service. The truth is, it is easier to be average today and harder to be exceptional.
How is your company creating memorable moments that customers share openly within their circles of influence? What drives your customers’ experience? The journey begins by understanding your company’s aspirational anchor. This is followed by knowing what is valuable to the markets you serve. Understanding that value begins with having an intimate understanding of your customers’ world and what is important to them.
What is the commitment the company aspires to fulfill? For example, does your company strive for there-for-you service, 24/7/365 accessibility, 100 percent system reliability, on time-every time performance, reduction of energy costs by 50 percent, 25 percent greater production efficiency, etc? This aspiration must be embraced companywide and supported by the board, owners and other influencers who will earmark investments to drive the customer experience.
When you start with a solid commitment, you can stop reacting to the market and start shaping it.
Most companies have a mix of customers. Some may be defined by industry segment, some by size, some by geographic location, others by direct, end-user and distributors. Whatever the case, creating personas of these various customer segments gets you closer to understanding the environments, needs, obstacles, decision-making drivers and desires of each one.
Create a visual understanding or humanize each customer-type to immerse yourself in your customers’ world and allow your team to get a clear picture in their minds to better understand how the company can make a positive impact and experience.
Customer journey mapping
Once you intimately understand your customers and their environments, you can begin to map out the customers’ buying journey — and it will be remarkably different for some of your customer segments.
What is important to them? What are they concerned about? How do they discover new solutions? What information do they seek? Who else do they involve in the decision-making process? You need to figure out how you can be with them throughout the journey. Pre-existing problem, during the discovery phase, as they research solutions, as they narrow down potential offerings, as they present options to others involved in decision-making, during the close, post purchase and so on.
It takes work to rally true believers. By addressing the core needs of your customers who are likely being overlooked by everyone else, you can create raving fans. The first step is yours to take. Make sure your company can compete on customer experience.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 26-year-old brand development, strategic and online marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.