The most succinct description of customer experience is everything related to your business that impacts a person's feelings and perceptions about your business. Every interaction matters, regardless of how brief, and it is independent of making a purchase.
So, let's start with a simple question: when did you last call your customer support line anonymously? Or reach out to purchase your products/services anonymously? In this context, anonymously means you do not identify as a company employee or leader.
- How did that experience strike you? Did you feel valued and respected? Or like a nuisance and unwanted interruption?
- If you were a fly on the wall, witnessing that experience as a company leader, would you feel proud or embarrassed or someplace in between?
- Was your concern/question adequately addressed? Did they give you an escalation path to address your concern if not?
Customers' feelings when things go right affect their perceptions. Their perceptions are significantly impacted by how they feel when a problem needs resolving. In addition, emotions drive at least 80% to 90% of buying decisions using logic to justify that choice. Based on your experience above, would you want to do business with you? In all fairness, you should implement this exercise multiple times to get a broader perspective.
I hope that the answer is yes. But do you know the reasons? I encourage you to invest in a deeper understanding of your reaction to the above.
- Do you know what experience you and your customers honestly want? And how can you get in touch with that emotionally? I understand that for many business leaders, it's about rational thought and dollars and cents. We don't discuss emotions. But then again, emotions drive revenue and profit.
- Are you focused on what you think they want or potentially too focused on short-term profit?
- Are you sufficiently flexible in recognizing that customers' wants differ based on the product/service and their current heart-mind space? If you implemented the exercise above a day a month for six months, would you always be in the same space?
- A potential customer's first point of contact with your company/brand is critical. Are you investing appropriately in these contacts? Particularly in the people? Successful businesses are not only about people; it's about follow-through.
- Lastly, are you wording your customer satisfaction surveys to get the answers that "you think you want" or to learn what is happening? For example, when was the last time you filled out a customer survey, and there needed to be a way to share the feedback you wanted to share?
Why is Customer Experience so challenging? Because it's the people! And people are emotional, behave inconsistently based on heart-mind space in the moment, and their needs change over time. Any business's risk-reward equation concerns more than the technical, operational, financial, sales, supply chain, and marketing challenges. The risk-reward equation needs to incorporate the inconsistency of humans in a highly connected world. That balance will shift ever more frequently as we move to the future. If your customers' experiences are not meeting your desired outcome, you may want to re-evaluate and re-align your foundational embedded assumptions about peoples' wants and needs.