Getting the customer experience right is of paramount importance according to the judges of the 2014 Management Book of the Year competition run by the Chartered Management Institute and the British Library. The overall winner was Matt Watkinson for his book, â€˜The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experienceâ€™. In awarding Matt the coveted book prize the judges, who are public and private sector leaders, questioned whether organisations are truly putting the customer at the heart of their operation. So, how do you know if youâ€™re getting it right?
Use your data wisely
If youâ€™re not already collecting and analysing data on customer behaviour and direct customer feedback, youâ€™re missing a trick. There are more and more ways for customers to get in touch with businesses and organisations â€“ in writing, by phone, by email, online, and through multiple social media channels. You need to be monitoring activity across all these in-bound communication platforms with voice of the customer analytics. Once youâ€™ve got your data collection mechanisms in place you then need to work out how to understand and use the pertinent information. You also need to look at how customers interact across the different channels and what insight that gives you.
But donâ€™t forget gut instinct
Understanding the big data and analysing it so itâ€™s relevant and useful is vital, but the numbers canâ€™t replace the qualitative information that comes from your own gut feeling and from talking to your customers one-to-one. Step into your customers shoes and engage your empathy to get a feel for what might surprise and delight them.
Understand the customer journey
Map out the journey your customer takes to get to your product, service or offering. Whether youâ€™re a private business or a public service provider the customer journey is just as important. Use your data to understand at which point you lose people and why. You need to do this across different platforms, so that all interactions your customer has with you are positive and keep them coming back. The online customer experience and journey are extremely important because you have such little time to make a sale, or secure a sign up. Peopleâ€™s attention span on the internet is very short and you need to remove any obstacles that might put them off and make them search elsewhere.
Engage all the senses
Are you making the most of the opportunities to shape your customer experience? Consider each of the senses in turn and think about how you are working to appeal to each. Nowadays, most products are pretty good. There is a base standard that most consumer products reach and we have plenty of competition driving improvement in almost every category and sector. As Mark Earls pointed out in Herd: â€œItâ€™s 10 years since JD Power revealed that there is no such thing as a bad car; theyâ€™re all good.â€
Chances to demonstrate differentiation are precious and few so you need to take the trouble to seek them out and bring them to your customers. You can build a brand around points of difference and itâ€™s this that will help you close a deal.