The importance of positive customer experience seems blindingly obvious.
In a nutshell
- Companies may tick the usual boxes of 'good' customer experience, but they need to do more to build long term equity for their brand.
- Brands must find out what is important to their customer and what the experience they have with your company feels like to them.
- Intangibles and peripheral elements of the experience are equally as important to the bigger picture.
So much so that you wonder why there is so much current chatter about customer journeys, customer experience design and the whole customer-centric package.
Just put the customer at the centre of everything you do and voila!
It isn’t as easy as that
The shadow of Steve Jobs (and his famous quote about product design) hangs over all marketers. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want.” However, people certainly do know when a company 'gets them' – and Jobs was pretty good at that.
People also know when they don’t get what they want – even when they didn’t know what they wanted in the first place, if you see what I mean.
And companies who try to impose their own ideas of what’s important on their customers can get it horribly wrong.
Spotify enraged its customers when it unilaterally changed its terms and conditions. Taken aback, apologies flowed and the offending T&Cs were rescinded – but at what cost to people’s trust in the brand?
Maybe they didn’t think T&Cs were a valid customer experience touch point, but a company’s operational view of touchpoints rarely reflects the customer’s perception of the total brand relationship.
This was made glaringly clear recently when we were tracking customer experience with a rural supplies retailer.
One customer reported having made a purchase at an acceptable price, been served by a polite member of staff and having no complaints, but still their overall customer satisfaction scores were diasappointingly low.
Further investigation uncovered poor experiences around the peripheral experience, in particular around dirty toilets and messy loading bays.
Operations staff took a view that the core components were being delivered – good price, good service, a good range of product – and the other things weren’t important to their typical customers. At least, no one ever complained.
Not true, as it turned out. For this customer, and presumably others, the negative emotions elicited by the peripheral experience in store (the toilets and the loading bays) was damaging the underlying brand experience.
Put it another way, the store was doing fine on the more usual measures of customer service – “getting what I wanted” and “making it easy”. But for a lasting emotional reward, the sort that builds long term equity for the brand, the store needed to be ticking a few more boxes: “they respect me”, “they value me as a person not just as a wallet”, for example.
Dirty toilets might not have stopped that customer making a purchase on the day; but they could well come into play when a new retailer opens its doors down the road.