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Customer experiences drive change

Your products or services are purchased because they meet a need for your customer, not because you have a fancy brand or a clever marketing campaign. That need may be for pain relief or to cook a meal or to fit in with peers, but it is still the customer’s need that drives a purchase and the customer’s experiences are what set the stage for that need to be fulfilled. If you’re not managing that experience actively, what kind of situation will your customer be in?
Coffee Steam by Waferboard (flickr)
Volkswagen has an issue with this: their ads are hip and fun and match their target market who perceives themselves as hip and fun also. But then you enter a dealership, and start talking financing, and that is not hip and not fun. The disconnect is enough to send prospects back out the door.

Boutique dentistry finds an interesting resolution to this conundrum. Ads for dentistry work are always smiling and happy, but the actual procedures are sometimes painful and costly. The boutique dentistry services industry address this by offering headphones, video and optional sedation. They match the need the customer has to a crafted experience that results in better customer loyalty, better reviews, and ultimately more revenue. The customer experience is different than usual – the customers talk about that difference – and the dentist sees more customers as a chair

Sedating customers isn’t the solution for most industries. The businesses that have thought comprehensively about their customer experience manage it all the way through for great results. Starbucks obsesses about the aroma of their locations, to the point of putting together an “aroma task force” and redesigning their microwave ovens to reduce cooking fumes and odors that would compete with the distinct starbucks coffee miasma. Apple’s retail experience is so well crafted it has spawned forgeries – fake apple stores that not only sell the products, but do so in a way that mimics the Apple Stoer Store experience almost completely.

Social media offers you an avenue to listen in on the customer’s experiences, and get answers to the questions you haven’t thought to ask. Setting up a social media listening strategy – in conjunction with a traditional market research approach – can lead to astounding insights about the customer’s experience of your product or service.

What can you do in your business to manage the customer experience, from the first thought about their need (or ZMOT)  through to their service and support and referral experiences?

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