What thinking goes into creating an amazing customer experience?
Shep Hyken speaks with Lynn Hunsaker, who talks about a mistake that companies typically make in this process.
Shep’s opening monologue takes a look at two companies that truly understand the customer experience. First is Olark, a live chat software company, that chose not to hire a person dedicated to handling customer service. Instead they rotated the job among the four partners. This allowed each of the founders to not only learn how to answer questions and deal with problems, but to also find out what customers were actually experiencing when they used their products. At the second company, Anheuser-Busch, in what could be an early version of Undercover Boss, executives were required to ride with the route salesmen in their beer trucks. As a result, these executives received first-hand knowledge of the customer experience.
- Everyone should have a role in making suggestions for improving the customer experience.
- Understand your customers’ expectations.
- Engage your customers’ trust to create loyalty.
Shep interviews Lynn Hunsaker who says that in Silicon Valley the danger exists to think that a concept like innovation can take precedence. Many companies in her area think, “What is the next new mouse trap that we can create?” The concept of attempting to retain existing customers rather that to attain new ones seems a bit foreign to them. So Lynn wrote the book Innovating Superior Customer Experience, to find a common ground with her peers in Silicon Valley.
She discovered that everybody in the organization should have a role in being creative and in making suggestions for customer experience innovations. In Silicon Valley, Adobe gives us an example of such a company. Anybody at Adobe can make a suggestion, have it presented to a peer review board, and fast track their ideas into reality. Everybody at Adobe can have a stake in setting the customer experience.
Lynn says we need to adopt a Blue Ocean strategy. In other words, view your business from the holistic standpoint of your customer. It’s important in this case to determine your customer’s ultimate aim and to characterize their expectations across their entire customer journey. The set of expectations the customer has should become the guiding light for everything you are doing in your company.
Many companies, to help them manage their customer experience, create customer personas. For example, to help their employees better understand the typical customer, Best Buy has created the persona of “Jill,” a soccer mom who makes the electronics purchasing decisions for the family. Some companies actually create and need to manage 12 to 20 of these customer personas.
Lynn tells us there is a much simpler and easier process: just look at the ultimate aims and sets of expectations across those many customer personas. Once you truly understand your customers, through the use of personas or otherwise, you are better able to market to them. Customer service and customer experience are the new marketing. And when you understand who your competitors are, not just your direct competitors, you can begin to craft a better experience for your customers.
When you examine the customer experience, realize that the time and effort customers expend as well as the stress they experience is a huge part of why customers churn. When you are thinking of customer experience improvement, you should be aiming to minimize the occurrence of these issues. We ask ourselves, how do we engage our employees to make the customer’s plight better? For example, how can we simplify something for a customer?
When you are thinking about engaging customers, think first about earning their trust. If you focus on earning their trust, they will engage. But if you focus on engaging them just for the sake of engagement, that effect might be short-lived. Take for example, loyalty programs. In addition to your own loyalty program, your customers may also be subscribers in all of your competitors’ loyalty programs, thus defeating the purpose of your program.
Many loyalty programs are simply marketing programs. Ask yourself, would a customer still do business with you if you eliminated your loyalty program? Have we been able to earn their trust? That is how good you need to be! And if you have a loyalty program, use it to thank the people who continue to do business with you. Certainly do not offer even better deals to first-time buyers. Otherwise you will certainly offend your loyal customers!
ABOUT: Lynn Hunsaker is CEO of ClearAction, a customer experience consultancy that grows businesses by centering on customers’ well-being. She is also the author of Innovating Superior Customer Experience, a CXPA Customer Experience Expert, AMA Professional Certified Marketer, ASQ Certified Quality Manager, Certified CPI and MBTI Practitioner, past-president of Bay Area Association for Psychological Type, and award-winning past president of Silicon Valley American Marketing Association.
“When you are customer-centered, it means that you have a personal conviction that if you put your customers first, all of your needs will be met in turn.” – Lynn Hunsaker
What questions will this episode answer?
- What is a customer persona?
- What is customer-centered management?
- What causes customer churn?
- What can be wrong with customer loyalty programs?