Nearly 10 years ago, one of America’s largest market research companies, Forrester Research, restructured their entire organization around a single point of view: we were entering the “Age of the Customer”—an age where technology-enabled customers have higher expectations of brands, more buying options, and more leverage given the power of amplification on social platforms. When it comes to the customer-brand relationship, customers are now in the power position.
This is the backdrop for all the discussion, action, and products around Customer Experience (CX) over the past few years. Inclusive of, but much broader and more complex than just customer service, CX boils down to this loaded statement:
“If a customer likes you and continues to like you, they will do business with you. If they don’t, they won’t.” - Author and marketing thought-leader Paul Greenberg
And to exacerbate this for a brand, if they don’t like you because of a bad experience, they are likely to tell 9 to 15 other people about it. Yikes!
Earlier today I found myself thinking about this quote as a customer. I’m a customer of many, many companies, of course. I’m extremely loyal to some of these brands/products; others, not so much. Then there are the brands that have dissatisfied me or my friends/family – yeah, I don’t give them my money. One brand revered for customer experience is Amazon. I still remember the first time I experienced this first-hand.
A Stellar Customer ExperienceAmazon touts itself as the “Earth’s most customer-obsessed company.” I’ve personally been an Amazon Prime member since it came out – seriously, who doesn’t love 2-day (or less) shipping? I have subscriptions for products I regularly buy. If I don’t need something immediately, I’ll look on Amazon and buy it if they have it, just to save a trip to the store. And honestly, the product price isn’t that important given the convenience factor.
I was first impressed with Amazon’s exceptionally thoughtful, service-recovery design about five years ago. I needed to contact them about a problem with a purchase. Imagine my shock and delight when I navigated to their contact page and found an option other than chat, email, or a toll free customer service number…
“CALL ME” options
Think about the last time you were on the phone with a decision tree for customer support, waiting and navigating auto attendant options for routing, and waiting some more. Amazon realized that was a hassle for customers and did something about it. The “Call me” button saved customers the time and pain of the typical IVR experience. If there’s any kind of wait time to talk with someone, you opt for an Amazon customer support rep to call you when you’re at the front of the queue. They will call you when there’s no wait. BRILLIANT! Yes, I realize this is commonplace for customer experience now, but do you recall the first time you were presented with that option or something equally innovative? Pretty memorable, am I right?
There are two crucial elements to the success of any company striving for this level of customer-obsession: technology AND culture.
How Can You Enable Customer Obsession?Abstracting myself from being the customer, I look at Amazon and other examples from my point-of-view as a CX and technology consultant. Having a rock-solid product (and insights-driven roadmap) is table stakes, and a given. My takeaways and recommendations to retain and thrill your customers beyond that assumption are:
- Prioritize your focus on customers over shareholders. With stellar CX, shareholder value will come.
- Get a solid handle on all your customer data. Having a 360° view of each customer will allow you to craft personalized experiences and offers to them. If you’re not a “digitally-born” company, you’ll likely have some technical debt, and data silos to overcome—most companies do. Luckily tools are available to help you overcome those hurdles. Microsoft has completely reinvented the Dynamics 365 ecosystem as multiple modern applications to help businesses capitalize on their business data. For example, D365 Customer Insights is a solid customer data platform that uses Artificial Intelligence, Microsoft Graph, and Machine Learning to automate data analysis to produce actionable insights like identity mapping, profile augmentations, and churn predictions.
- Become a customer-first organization through top-down culture, communication, processes, and tools. Some pragmatic steps to start the culture-shift include:
- The formation of a C-level CX steering committee
- Customer engagement and co-creation
- Fostering employees’ emotional connection to customers
- Ongoing communication, education, and customer innovation workshops across the organization
I also recommend “Five Trends Shaping The Future of Customer Experience in 2020” – definitely worth the read for ideas to consider as you move on your journey to customer obsession.
Valorem Reply, specializes in hyper-scale and agile delivery of unique digital business services, strategic business models and design-led user experiences. Through the expertise of our people and power of Microsoft technologies, we provide innovative customer experiences that build market share and stand out. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more about our Customer Experience Solutions.