My Belief is that Customer Experience (CE) provides a blueprint to transform a business by combining two aspects, that for many businesses are diametrically opposed.
‘Drive shareholder value to make the business a more fulfilling place to work and a ‘delight’ to deal with for customers’.
The purpose of CE is that when it comes to a customer making a choice, or equally someone looking for somewhere to work, they choose you time and time again instead of a competitor. For this to happen a fundamental shift in thinking is called for. We need to move from a position of thinking of CE as a new role for Customer Service (as many do) and to think of it as ‘New Board Directorate’ built on the best principles and practices of Marketing & Services, that can transform your companies profitability and competitive defense.
The start of my journey was borne of a simple principle ‘People buy from people like themselves’.
In the majority of occasions, people are emotionally driven to buy. If not we would all simply buy the cheapest product that did what we needed it to do. But we constantly seek out and pay more for products that make us feel better about ourselves, and this led me to my second insight.
We think the Customers who buy from us, and the Colleagues who work in the business are fundamentally different. When clearly, especially those that deal with the customers day to day are not.
So for me the foundation stone of CE is its ability to build an emotional engagement between a business, through its colleagues, to its customers. This is something Marketing spends its life doing externally through advertising & direct marketing campaigns. It’s the internal aspect of this that lies at the heart of true strategic CE.
This Branding Inside Out approach has never been more pertinent. The increased virtualization of information and dramatic growth of Social Media means that often our Customers are better informed than we are. A business risks being stripped of it’s ability to control it’s selling messages, with consumer ‘tribes’ taking over the promotion of the brand virtually.
This is where my principles of ‘People Buy From People Like Themselves’ and ‘Customers Are Colleagues’, ‘Colleagues Are Customers’ come together. In this increasingly virtualized, cluttered and confused world, consumers are looking for shortcuts and trusted parties to reduce the stress of buying things. They want someone who understands them and sells them things that allow them to feel better about themselves. In other words someone with whom they can emotionally engage with.
Engagement leads to a feeling of empathy – an innate understanding of what the other person needs. That is the capability that true strategically driven (by which I mean endorsed by the CEO of which the clearest signal is to create a dedicated Board Role) Customer Experience has!
Why Is This A Total Business Game?
If you buy into ‘People Buy From Engaged People’ then one way of doing that is create an emotional bond with the consumers, so that they feel you have an empathetic understanding of their need, so that they have enough trust in you to buy. Then it’s not a big leap to see that creating this experience starts by presenting a consistent personality to the Customer at every touch point they have with your business.
To do this you need to look at your whole business for 3 reasons.
- All companies have a brand personality. Often driven from the top down, it filters into front line colleagues where customers come up against it.
- The increase in multi-channel contact means that the range of people in a business who can deal with customers is increasing almost exponentially.
- The final CE is the end result of a long and complicated business process, which your customer doesn’t care about. Each step of which has the opportunity to add to, or subtract from, the end level of empathy the customer feels.
So if you want to benefit from the true transformational power Customer Experience offers – you need to turn your whole company into an expression of your brand, ensuring your colleagues and customers alike innately understand each others needs and wants, driving engagement, into trust to build empathy.