If you search for the definition of customer experience, there are many variations; the sum of all of transactions, wowing the customer at every touch point or how a company manages the customer relationship. I have thought a lot about the meaning of the customer experience. My best description is a comparison; the customer experience is like a romance, not just a date.
The customer experience is the way an individual, the customer, feels about their overall relationship with a company. The key word is relationship and relationship means long term. I think most C-level managers don’t embrace that concept and concern themselves with each separate transaction; i.e., a date. Their goal is making that date exceptional, within budget constraints and regardless of the channel. Most companies do not have strategic plans or technology in place to manage the whole customer relationship. There are silos: ecommerce, mobile, brick & mortar, etc. and each silo has a leader focusing on the success of their own channel. The importance of the ongoing customer experience is lost and there is no romance.
The customer experience, by my definition, should begin with an awesome first encounter in any channel and never end. Think about it. If you are looking for love, commitment and your ideal mate, don’t you want to celebrate many anniversaries? It might start with dinner or a walk in the park, but it doesn’t develop unless time, energy, and thought nurture each meeting into a relationship.
When Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, retired on August 6, he ended the show with this quote, “An artist I really admire once said that he thinks of his career as a long conversation with the audience, a dialogue. Nothing ends; it’s a pause in the conversation. So rather than saying goodbye or goodnight, I’m just going to say I’m going to go get a drink. And I’m sure I’ll see you guys before I leave.”
The customer experience is also like a long conversation. Every time there is a transaction with a customer (purchase, question, return, complaint, follow-up communication) there is a pause. It’s what happens after the pause that is so important and often neglected. In order for the customer experience to continue and be successful it must be rebooted. And the reboot is based on the customer’s personal preferences.
The ultimate measurement for any organization or business should be their percentage of repeat customers. Most don’t measure it adequately or at all or develop a strategy to generate a higher percentage based on the findings. If repeat business is by accident, it leaves your organization vulnerable to your competition, which is next door or a mouse click away.
The best strategy to promote repeat business should be relationship centric.
Building a relationship requires a thoughtful progression of stages; connecting, getting to know customer/person, and showing them that they still matter after the sale. Sending daily notifications of a future sale or today’s bargains doesn’t make the customer feel wanted or cared for. That strategy creates anonymity and irrelevance and is not valuable. No customer wants to feel like an insignificant peg in a large, unfocused marketing campaign. If you were barraged with emails everyday that were of no interest from your spouse or significant other, you would not be happy and certainly not flattered.
When your company starts planning for 2016, have everyone in the room focus on romancing their customers. You will be far more successful than setting up a structure of winning a customer one date at a time.
What do you think?