A Tale of Two Experiences
When you walk into a Trader Joe’s, you experience some things. The store is smallish, intimate even, and it doesn’t overwhelm. The staff are usually quirky, but helpful and friendly. Samples always are out, from cookies to beer and wine. In fact, you can sample any product in the store right on the spot if you want to. You’ll hear an eclectic mix of music and an occasional bell clanging, too. Oh, and you’ll get a kitschy little mailer with advertised discounts and the latest news about what’s being offered in the stores. And it’s pretty much the same experience in every store, everywhere.
On the other end of the experience spectrum, you have gas stations. You could visit one in one location, buy gas, get a decent cup of coffee, and even use a fairly clean bathroom (not particularly in that order). You could then visit the same company’s gas station in another location and find bars on the windows and have a better chance of seeing a body face down in the bathroom than a bottle of hand soap.
Both businesses offer experience. One is remarkable and consistent; the other can be remarkable, but it can be terrible, too. In other words, not consistent. (side note: If you want consistent and terrible, you can look to cable companies and healthcare providers.)
Turn Remarkable into Marketable
Consistent, remarkable customer experience is what companies should be aiming to provide these days. That experience becomes more of an essential marketing tactic as print and TV ads become second hand to user experience. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a Trader Joe’s commercial or even their ad in a magazine or newspaper?
A consistent, remarkable customer experience is critical on websites, too, and just as many ways exist to turn people off online as they exist to provide a satisfying, personalized experience. But the good news is that it’s easy to customize each website visitor’s experience because web analytics provides the data to set up a welcoming and nurturing relationship with each person. No one wants to be just another blip in the customer relationship management system.
But whether you have a traditional storefront, a website, or both, keeping and maintaining customers through consistently favorable experiences pays dividends. People will actually pay more for a product or service if it comes with a great customer experience. And because of remarkable experiences, customers become ambassadors for your brand. If you give them the experience they want or the experience that “wows” them, you build loyalty and eventually they talk and spread the word to nearly everyone they know. Beware: Negative experiences wreak havoc . . . customers will leave if the experience sucks.
Roll Out the Red Carpet
So what do you need to deliver remarkable customer experience? Here are six recommendations from the book Summit: Reach Your Peak and Elevate Your Customers’ Experiences by F. Scott Addis:
- “Listen to the individual customer.” This means what you think it means: Talk less; listen more. Paying attention to where people go on your website falls under this, too.
- “Exploit your product and service differences.” The author shouldn’t have to include this tidbit, but the message is clear: Be distinctive, or be irrelevant.
- “Demonstrate the value of your offering.” Fill a need. Make a connection. Display value.
- “Show your passion and creativity in every solution.” This means you should keep learning, discovering, and never back away from possibilities.
- “Demonstrate your personal commitment.” Give your customers respect and what they need. There’s no customer experience without the customer.
- “Shoot for the customers’ hearts.” This is just like any other relationship. Engage them and make them feel appreciated.
So there you have it. Businesses that want to nurture a great customer experience would be wise to memorize this list.
A consistent, remarkable experience is especially, well, remarkable these days because people seem to have forgettable experiences with so many businesses. After all, people don’t always remember what you say to them, but they remember how you make them feel. That’s the essence of the customer experience. This goes beyond customer service. This is about creating an environment; it’s about creating feeling and connection. It’s forging a relationship—and keeping that relationship all smiles and sunshine throughout the customer life-cycle. All efforts need to focus on the customer and roll out the red carpet of remarkable.