Did you know that 55% consumers are willing to pay more to have a delightful experience?
A report by McKinsey says that 70% of product or service buying experiences are totally based on how the customers feel they have treated.
For about 62% organizations, customer experience is viewed as a great competitive differentiator.
Delighting your customers doesn’t mean you have to be “over the top” to amaze them. The best companies and people are just a little better than average… all of the time. It’s the “all of the time” part that separates them from everyone else. Customers will say, “They are always friendly, always knowledgeable, always helpful…” the word always followed by something positive is the consistency customers want. A consistent and predictable above-average experience is what makes great companies and people great… even amazing!
The Service-Profit Chain is a management model developed over a 5-year study by a group of researchers at Harvard Business School. Their research data demonstrates that profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty – especially in retail and service businesses.
But how can we expect our customers to love us…if our employees don’t? Can’t be done!
And there is plenty of evidence that “happy employees create happy customers who create happy investors.” Decades of research confirm customer loyalty comes from high customer satisfaction, which correlates strongly with high levels of employee engagement. And highly engaged employees are an outcome of effective leadership!
In order to scale up employee engagement, we must first scale up our leadership. There are thousands of books on what that means, so here’s just one concept: Strive to create a warm and friendly culture. For example, foster a fun, even playful environment in company-wide meetings.
Senior managers who exude humor and goodwill during these events send the message that company leaders are regular, accessible folks, not stuffy, starched shirt executives who are apart from the team. Plus, having fun makes people feel safer which increases creativity and their willingness to contribute their ideas. Coming together for annual meetings should reinforce company camaraderie and strengthen employee engagement.
Employees watch everything management does. They take their cues on how to treat customers and what kind of emotions are appropriate at work from company leaders. Leadership interactions with employees manifest in employee interactions with customers. Great customer experiences start with leadership!
Customers assume they’re going to get the value and outcomes for which they’re paying. You don’t get credit for that and that doesn’t automatically equal delight. Delight is the science of understanding what that means from the perspective of the customer, not the company. Sounds fairly straight forward, though few companies actually practice that.
A case study example:
- In 1981, Xerox was trying to figure out why one of its new copiers was perceived as "overly complex." Company managers blamed unsophisticated users and proposed adding even more complexity to the machine in the form of a video display terminal.
- A researcher/grad student from Berkeley persuaded Xerox to install some of these copiers on campus, so as to videotape the experience when folks tried to run a few simple copies. When Xerox engineers saw the recording, they dismissed these folks as "too dumb," until that researcher/grad student identified some of individuals as the world's foremost computer scientists.
- What was the result? An obvious, single green "copy" button became standard on all Xerox copiers (still is, though says "start").
- Customers were delighted by Xerox's willingness to listen and by all accounts, still are: Xerox is now 112 years old and in FY17, reported impressive revenue numbers of 10.26Bn.
Whether a company is 112 years old or a brand new start up, there are an infinite number of way to delight customers; the true competitive advantage is to understand what the trends and levers are -- as defined by their customers.
- Delighted customers are ones who have their expectations not only met but exceeded. “The best way to meet or exceed a customer’s expectations is to break down the product and service into various levels. Each plan meets different expectations and must be established on the basis of the customer’s need at that level”. Organizations need to deliver a “wow” experience that their customers always remember and will share with others.
- “Customers now are more apt to use social media when they have a good/bad experience, which can make or break a company’s image with a single post! Sometimes, when a good word goes viral, the company benefits in terms of increased brand value, more leads and boosted business.
I believe the best way to delight a customer, is to have employees with the ability to make a personal emotional connection. Understanding that “customer experience” is the way customer's perceive their interactions with the company, which basically means how they felt and what they will remember when they think about the company.
One of the simplest way to make somebody feel good, is to really listen to what they are saying, understanding what they need, and connecting with the emotion they are feeling. If you got this part right, then you will be more equipped to provide the best possible solution, exceeding the customer's expectation.
Rather than giving my customers the "right" answer, I aim to give them the "best" answer. This means taking the time to answer every question the customer asks and even the ones they might not know or think to ask. While it might take a bit more time in the moment, it saves our customers the valuable time and frustration of having to contact support again in the future.