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Earlier last week, one of our Customer Value Maximization heads wrote a tempting insightful post on how great customer experiences make memorable brands. Incidentally, the reverse is also true. Bad customer experience = Bad brand reputation. Just like a recent nightmarish experience I had at a clothing store. Imagine arrogant salespersons, complete indifference and a sobbing cashier at the billing counter (apparently due to an altercation with the manager). Needless to say, that is one store I won’t be visiting anytime soon.
The concept of customer experience has been around for ages but not been perfected except for a few brands that outshone the others. Anyone who’s been reading up on marketing knows the big ones – Apple, SouthWest Airlines, Nordstrom and so on. Also, anyone who’s availed a service can probably recall at least one horrible experience they have had with a brand. So why all the additional hoopla over positive customer experiences these days?
Very simply put, there has been a major shift in the drivers of success for businesses. While it started with owning assets and went on to having strong distribution networks, it was recently all about selling information-centric products. (More on the shift here) But that has changed too. Now the customer reigns supreme. Technology-based disruptions will soon fizzle out and the only factor that will separate the winners from the rest will be superior customer service.
So how does one ensure delivery of flawless customer experiences? Simple – through a well-aligned detailed strategy. In the absence of a clear strategy, efforts become scattered and initiatives begin to seem confusing to customers. Good strategies provide a common direction for initiatives. Overall, brands need to be careful about ensuring that the strategy is aligned to the organization’s strategy as well as the brand’s attributes.
According to this great article, delivering great customer experiences requires creation of foolproof, standard practices which are driven by – powerful strategy, in depth customer understanding, design, measurement, governance and culture. All that can be made possible with the help of high-performance marketing frameworks such as customer value maximization.
There are multiple time-tested techniques to improve customer experience such as the peak-end rule. But the crux of the entire deal lies in recognizing, respecting and acting on the fact that customers are unbelievably powerful today for creating brand reputation. With enhanced connectivity and multitudes of options to network with other users, each customer has the power to engineer perceptions of prospects. So the next time you want to snap at customers because they’re delaying lunch or holding up closing time at the store, you might want to think of the dire repercussions.
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