This week we feature an article by Chanice Henry who writes about the importance of listening and understanding your customers in order to give them the experience they want.
Wish to inspire a step-change in how customers interact with your brand digitally? You’ll need to rely on more than simply the allure of a shiny new functionality or a brilliant process you have invented.
Rather than having a siloed focus on technology or digitalized workflows, businesses need to ensure they have eyes locked onto customer behavior.
Michael Wolczyk, Head of Online Processes at Commerzbank maintains that focusing too much on technology is one of the most costly mistakes businesses make with their approach to digital experiences.
“Technology’s very fascinating, I love looking at technology, but most businesses look at technology first and then search for a problem it can solve, which is a big issue.”
The best-laid plans can be created at headquarters, but due to the distance from the customer, the actual product or process can be far removed from what the customer actually wants.
Recent research has acknowledged that, yes, strong branding is influential in buying decisions, but so is relevance. To ensure they remain aligned to customer needs, market trailblazers are engraving the voice of the customer into everyday operations and then adapting accordingly.
Listening to your customer doesn’t just mean spitting out a survey every so often, it’s about constantly capturing insights that signal intent and satisfaction as well as getting direct feedback.
An eye-opening chat with Justin Reilly, Former Head of Customer Experience Innovation at Verizon revealed the true power of listening to customers. Justin implemented projects that brought customers to physically sit with C-level members.
He recalled: “I remember distinctly one mother said: ‘Look, I have five kids, six if you count my husband, and I’m currently with a competitor of Verizon. You think that giving me an extra $100 a month US or free HBO or NFL packages will help me switch, but that’s not it.’
“She added: ‘What I want is for you to show up at my house, take all my boxes from my current provider and make sure that I have the same features when I switch to you guys. I’m the decision maker in this family and if I get this package wrong there’s upheaval, there’s anarchy in my house.’
“Her point was: just build a product that breaks up with my provider for me. And no one in the room, some of the smartest people in the world, had come up with a switching product.
“So we built a switching product that went as far as the lawyers would let us go, and it’s been phenomenal. If you actually analyze the metrics of building it, it’s cheaper than building a product with discounts and all these things that we think customers want when they [in fact don’t.]”
The strongest growth is enjoyed by brands that focus on providing products and services that go beyond gimmicks and actually provide relief for customer problems.
Many brands are stung by the struggle of creating products or processes that do not align with customer needs. Only after you have actually listened and understood the customer do you start locating the right piece of tech.
You would think alignment would be enough to instill acceptance, right? Wrong!
Initially, people struggled to trust ATMs to access cash, but in time the public came to adopt the new process.
It is important to raise awareness for changes – customers should be given a value proposition as to why they benefit from being on-board. Speed and convenience are essential elements of positive customer experiences. But there is one the element deemed as more desirable than having the latest technology: Knowledgeable service delivered in a friendly manner.
Carrot and the stick
You may need to drive new behaviors with a carrot and stick approach. This involves incentivizing compliance and providing a drawback for going against the change. It is possible to use this strategy without increasing customer churn rates or damaging NPS scores. For instance, you inform customers you have changed how you support them. For simple queries, they can pay a customer service fee to be supported by a human agent over the phone (stick), or for free (carrot) they can be serviced by a chat-bot or go online to access the solution. This frees-up human agents to solve more challenging cases. The conversion rate on using the carrot approach alone is substantially lower than using the two methods in equal measure.
Some companies have led marketing campaigns that promote the benefits of adopting newer routes, highlighting it is quicker to solve issues by contacting the brand digitally first rather than via traditional channels.
So if you wish to encourage progression in customer habits, you need to first provide the right solutions but you also need to appeal to their desires
Chanice Henry is the Editor of CX Network where she produces a range of premium-level content for senior customer experience, service, insight, digital and marketing leaders.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: How To Turn Satisfied Customers Into Loyal Customers