Where does your customer’s experience start? When they walk into your store or wander into your website? When they talk to a sales person? When they go searching for something on Google? When they see or hear your ad? When they use your products or services?
Sure these are all parts of the customer experience. But your customer experience starts much further back in the organisation. It starts with your values and purpose.
I know I can sound a bit like a broken record on this stuff but if you don’t know what your values are (the real ones, not the stuff you tell yourself for show) or know your purpose and what you care about – that enduring why – then you have little to no hope of delivering a consistent, aligned customer experience that sets and meets expectations (whatever they are) and builds loyalty and a strong resilient brand as a result.
I’m going to talk values today, I’ll come back to purpose next week.
I’ve written plenty of times about how to find your authentic values – those ones that live in the DNA of your culture. They are simply “how we do things around here”.
So if they shape how you do things – the decisions you make and actions you take – then it doesn’t take a very long piece of rope to connect that to the experience of the customer across all tangible and intangible facets of what you do.
And a deliberate and thoughtful experience doesn’t happen by chance – by chance is the other kind, the one most of your competitors are delivering! You’ve got to invest some serious time and thought into translating those values into design principles that can guide and shape those hows.
Take, for example, values of simplicity and customer-centricity (excuse the jargon). That might translate into a design principle of “making things simple and easy for our customers”. The key relationship there is not simple and easy for you, but for the customer, which might turn out to be more complicated for you.
As a design principle it can be used to guide how you deploy technology and what technology you use; the kinds of processes you put in place to handle complaints and questions; the actual mechanics of how products or services you’re selling work; the way you present information about it; the kind of language and messages you use. These are all things that when aligned build a great customer experience and resulting brand.
And so what’s the return on investment for all that work? Well, to know that you’ve got to measure it (but that’s another blog).
In general terms you get greater effectiveness internally (think how much better your car runs when the wheels are aligned). You get increased customer satisfaction and loyalty because words are cheap, but I’ll stick with someone who walks their talk and keeps their promises.
Which brings me to a big one – you get my confidence, and that’s a currency you can trade on. So you don’t have to be perfect every time but because I see the intent, the effort and the alignment I’ll give you a break if things occasionally don’t go as planned.
See you next week with “The customer experience starts here – part 2.”
Michel is an independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com.