Customer experience by Forrester Research with Inside-Out
Customer experience by Forrester Research with Outside-In
Throughout time millions of businesses have come and gone, each age bringing forth its own set of challenges and opportunities. Thus, only the more flexible companies have managed to stand the test of time. Some of the giants of the past have disappeared in an instant, the name of Standard Oil, Pan Am and AOL are forever consigned to the history books. All the while the pioneering companies like Shell, KLM and AT&T are still in business after more than a century. This is because each company must adapt its structure to remain competitive at every age or be faced with disappearance. The book identifies four distinct eras, each with their distinct sources of dominance:
- The age of manufacturing: Where mastering mass manufacturing creates industrial powerhouse.
- The age of distribution: Where mastering global distribution and having global connections becomes vital.
- The age of information: When connected computers benefited those who have access and control the information.
- The age of the customer: Where care and customer focus is rewarded by empowered and independent customers.
We now live in the age of the customer, which is still in its infancy and thus offers numerous opportunities to the one that can seize them and countless challenges for all the others. We have entered this age because of the eases of access to information and the globalisation of the value chain each individual has now decisively more option whenever purchasing a service or a product. As a result, companies now more than ever need the customers more than they need them. (Manning & Bodine, 2012)
The Customer Experience Pyramid
With increased customer volatility comes increased attention to customer experience. It can be classified in three basic levels, each building on the previous one in the manner of a pyramid. That way each customer can perceive their experience by asking themselves three questions:
- “Did I accomplish my goal?”
- “Was it easy?”
- “Did I enjoy the process?”
The answer to these questions helps define where a company sits on the customer experience pyramid.
All companies that want to keep their door open more than just a couple of years must at least meet the needs of their customers. If an office supply store sells neither pens nor printer paper it is unlikely to keep open for long.
Eases of uses is a big differentiating factor for many consumers. It has helped a tremendous number of companies get a competitive advantage withing their respective marketplace. Some of today’s giant companies were at their beginning merely facilitators for services that already existed. Netflix simply offered a more convenient way to rent DVD’s, Uber to call a cab and eBay to sell your used items. It was the simplicity and straightforwardness of their service that really set them apart from there competition.
But then if providing an easy-to-use service is enough to build a multi-billion-dollar company, why bother making the service itself enjoyable? The answer to this riddle is fairly simple: money. Offering great customer experience is profitable in and by itself. (Manning & Bodine, 2012)
There is a wide range of reason for this, but it manly boils down to two things: increased customer retention and reduced cost in customer support. Because one bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer, it is vital that every touch point the customer has with a company delivers a similar, high quality, experience. Companies that do not offer wide ranging consistency run the risk of loosing customer over a minor inconvenience, even when the rest of their processes are top-notch. That is because customer build up their expectation based on what they are familiar with. If they are used to being greeted when entering some facilities, them not being greeted once may cause them to be dissatisfied due to the discrepancies between their expectations and reality. On the other hand, consumer who received something or where treated in a special way they did not expect see their customer experience as much more enjoyable and are more likely to make another purchase (Jiang, Klein, & Saunders, 2011).
Delighted customers are also less likely to call the customer support helpline. That is because despite often being the first thing that comes to mind to many when talking about customer experience, customer support is only used when something already went wrong. It is thus illogical to focus on it first when it is possible to solve the very reason that force consumers to make their call. The key is to focus on understanding the underlying reasons behind every phone call and/or e-mail. If the there is regularly issues with billing it might often be easier and cheaper to talk with the accounting department to improve the readability of the bills rather than hiring and teaching customer support employee on how to coach customers to read their bills. (Manning & Bodine, 2012)
Customer understanding is the key
So, to be able to pinpoint the issues to the bills produced by the accounting department you first need to truly understand your customer as well as being able to retrieve valuable information from them.
It is thus key to solicit feedback about customer experience with the company through surveys and interviews as well as collect unsolicited feedback from emails, social media posts or by mining calls. In sizeable corporations gathering inputs from the front-desk employees who are in constant contact with the customers is a great idea. Also, if the company’s resources are sufficient it is also possible to conduct more in-depth research using more advance technics like shadowing or in-home observation.
The results from these observations should then be thoroughly analysed before being documented and shared to employees in an easy-to-understand format. It is then up to the executives to ensure a proper and carful implementation of these recommendation in every level of their company (Manning & Bodine, 2012).
Jiang, J. J., Klein, G., & Saunders, C. (2011). DISCREPANCY THEORY MODELS OF SATISFACTION IN IS RESEARCH. Information Systems Theory, 355-381.
Manning, H., & Bodine, K. (2012). Outside-in. Seattle: Amazon Publishing.