“Start with the customer experience and work backwards.” – Steve Jobs
Convenience has become the new loyalty. So, it obviously pays to invest some time and resources into making your customers feel as though they’re being served seamlessly, with their needs anticipated and their problems solved with minimal effort.
Many companies are now recognising this, but actually putting the knowledge into practice can be hard to achieve. A common approach in companies seeking to improve their customer experience is to start the process by looking at their current position and projecting forwards to where they want to get. They move on by trying to improve the situation step-by-step – but very quickly in this process, they bump into operational issues that hold them back and prevent them from reaching the desired endpoint.
So the recommended approach should actually be to do it the other way round. Start out with the vision of the PERFECT customer experience. Look at the best-in-class examples from both your industry and other sectors:
- Have your competitors adopted new technologies that make payments easier?
- Has investment in customer-facing staff improved their service?
- Or, by contrast, would moving to a fully online offering actually work better for your clients?
Work out what other companies do really well to make the journey effortless for their customers. You can then approach your own improvements in two ways:
- If you already have a complex set of customer experience systems, look carefully at each of the problems experienced by your customers. Then, seek out the issues and remove them one-by-one until you reach that desired state of perfection.
- If your customer experience processes are still developing, install new items one by one. Identify the key points of good service provided by your competitors, and introduce them in your own processes one at time, making sure that each is bedded in before moving on to the next.
By starting out with a clear idea of the service you want to be offering to your customers, you can avoid getting lost in the pros and cons of what you’re already doing. You can then consider every aspect of your existing processes in light of whether or not it contributes towards the PERFECT end result. If it does, great; if not, you can remove it.
So, your three steps to achieve a top customer experience are:
- Start with the perfect customer experience and move backwards – don’t be tied to keeping or trying to improve your existing methods if these don’t actually feed into your desired end result.
- Find projects that help you improve – look at problems with your existing customer experience processes, and/or identify successful processes that you haven’t yet introduced.
- EXECUTE! – Put your plans for the perfect customer experience into action. In this phase, it’s important to keep people motivated. Create a Wall of Previous Frustration: for every unresolved customer service issue that you or your staff come up against during the year, create a post-it note and stick it on the Wall of Frustration. The wall will fill up, then as the issues are resolved, it will empty again – how long can you keep it that way?!
Good luck with creating the PERFECT customer experience for your business – it will quickly become what gives you the edge over your competitors.
Prof. Steven Van Belleghem is an expert in customer focus in the digital world. He’s the author of the award-winning book When Digital Becomes Human, published by Kogan Page, priced £19.99. Follow him on Twitter @StevenVBe, subscribe to his videos at www.youtube.com/stevenvanbelleghem or visit www.stevenvanbelleghem.com.