You are most probably losing customers by trying to economize for them! The success of Sony VAIO in maintaining market leadership in consumer electronics over the years stands testimony to this fact. A 2013 CEI Survey estimates that 86% of those surveyed are willing to pay more for premium customer experience, but only 1% actually get it on a consistent basis! The onus is on companies to bridge this huge gap.
Delivering a premium customer experience can take many forms, ranging from the firm offering customized and personalized service to the customer, providing value-added unique services, and other extras. An August 2013 Econsultancy Multichannel Retail Survey concludes that 50% of respondents abandoned an online purchase owing to unsatisfactory delivery options, and 31% want a fixed delivery date and time read more.
However, designing for a premium customer experience that works over time requires ingraining this need in the company culture and aligning the concept as part of the overall strategy.
This requires the following FOUR critical approaches:
1. Focus on the Customer
The prerequisite of offering a premium customer experience is to place the focus on the customer rather on the product. Most sellers, unable to get out of the decade-old “values lie in the product” approach are product-feature obsessed, when today’s buyers seek deeper, value-centric partnerships.
However, this requires an internal cultural shift, to align the organization’s style of functioning with customer needs. The following are some ways towards a truly customer centric approach to deliver premium customer experience:
- The customer support guiding the customer, rather than organizing customer support on product lines and expecting customers search and locate what they require.
- Respecting the customer’s time, which basically entails delivering at the time and medium the customer prefers. Nothing exemplifies this more in the real world than a product delivered at home within a given 30-minute window, compared to the customer having to wit all day, expecting the delivery truck to arrive any moment.
- Sharing knowledge about the customer internally, so that the customer does not have to “reinvent the wheel,” or waste time explaining the entire scenario from beginning every time they initiate a contact.
- Sharing knowledge and best practices related to user adoption, technical details, and overall market, on a proactive basis, before the customer finds a need for it.
- Going all out to pamper the customer. Nordstrom, known for its legendary customer support, once had a customer support executive follow a customer all the way to the airport from the store, as the customer had forgotten his bags at the parking lot.
2. Handling Problems Well and Fast
Mistakes are common. The best of efforts notwithstanding, no company is immune from mess-ups that leave customers angry. It is how the company responds and reacts to such mistakes that make the difference. This is not the time to try to “punt” the problem instead, blaming extraneous factors, or even the customer themselves.
Delivering a premium customer experience requires:
- Taking ownership of the problem, to do whatever possible, at the quickest possible time.
- 100% transparency and honesty in actions, and keeping the customer informed.
- Making amends. This can take many forms, such as waiving the bill, or offering compensatory sops. For instance, when Lexus recalled its LS model of car within a few months after launch due to a technical issue, all recalled vehicles were returned to their owners washed, vacuumed and with a full tank of fuel.
- In today’s hyper-fast world, it is not enough to respond to problems and issues appropriately. It is essential to respond fast.
3. Offering Consistent Experiences
Consistency in customer engagement is a basic essential to deliver premium customer experience. Consistency goes beyond providing a uniform customer experience across different touch points, and requires consistency in the intensity of the relationship over time and throughout the customer lifecycle. Although the nature and approach of customer engagement would change over different phases in the customer lifecycle, marketers have to engage the customer at the 100th interaction with the same eagerness as they would engage a strong prospect at the first interaction.
Offering flexible levels of service, in line with customer’s needs and requirements, is a core requirement of keeping customers happy. Customer experience expectations evolve rapidly over time, in response to variables unrelated to and over which the business has no control. It is therefore important for businesses to approach this crucial function with an open mind, and be ready to make changes. What works well need not work the same way always. Failure to innovate or take inspiration from best practices could result in the company being struck in time, and face obsolescence. For instance, email is still the most popular and preferred method of reaching out to customers. However, companies who fail to see the changing trends and ignore reaching out to customers through the social media do so at their own peril.
A company’s ability to deliver a premium customer experience matures with age. More the interactions with customers, the deeper the relationships, the richer the data captured on experience expectations, and greater the stakes.
Conneqt Business Solutions delivers unified customer experiences across 1.2 million connects per day, while managing services integration, and protecting brand reputation. While companies focus on their core competence of delivering great products and services, we contribute to designing, implementing, and sustaining a premium customer experience, allowing companies to reap the full benefits of their offerings.
If you are looking to delight your customers, or would like to explore how to offer a premium customer experience in detail,