Re-thinking Customer Experience

So how should businesses approach designing a good customer experience?

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Re-thinking Customer Experience (source: Alfeld Stein)

Most businesses understand the importance of creating a good customer experience; 72% of businesses said in a 2016 study by the global research firm Forrester that improving the customer experience is their top priority.

There is also a strong link between customer experience and business profitability. NewVoiceMedia’s 2015 data estimated that $62 billion is lost annually by American companies due to poor customer experiences.

This figure is staggering. No wonder creating an excellent customer experience has become the ultimate goal for many businesses world-wide.

Given the advancement, from chatbot to virtual reality, the future of customer experience is undoubtedly influenced by technologies.

What does it mean for businesses? Should businesses ride the technology wave in order to create an exceptional experience for their customers?

The answer is, of course, NO.

Best customer experience comes from understanding customers' motivations and goals. Without designing customer experience from customers' perspective, adoption of new technologies will not guarantee a good outcome.

So how should businesses approach designing a good customer experience?

1. Respect the fundamental expectations

Buried under fancy marketing campaigns and attractive promises are the fundamental customer expectations. Put simply, customers want their basic needs meet.

For example, when a customer goes to a restaurant, one of the fundamental expectations will be to order and enjoy a meal quickly without too much waiting. Having a floor manager or restaurant owner personally greet the customer certainly adds to the dining experience, but is not essential.

In fact, it does not matter how friendly the restaurant owner is, the entire customer experience will almost always be spoiled if the meal order is placed incorrectly or meal waiting time is exceptionally long.

This example tells us that no matter what the future may bring, one thing remains constant – the customer expects a business to deliver what it promises and this often comes in the form of doing what you say you would do through your core services.

There are many examples of how businesses utilise technologies to better meet customers fundamental expectations. Two eCommerce companies, JD.com and Amazon, are leaders in this area.

JD.com wins with superior fast responses

JD.com, the largest eCommerce platform by revenue in China, for example, understands that a “fast game is a good game”, especially in the world of online shopping.

The Chinese eCommerce giant and Alibaba's rival, has built a vast and reliable domestic logistic and distribution network. Its network capability is so good that JD.com can offer an exceptional service promise to its customers – delivery within 12 hours of purchase within mainland China.

Amazon revolutionises shopping experience by making things easy.

Do you hate standing in a queue waiting to check out? If you live in Seattle, you are in luck, because Amazon has a solution for you. The company will open its Amazon Go retail store featuring a check-out free shopping experience in early 2017.

The retail store, currently in its beta phase, utilises advanced technologies to automatically detect product movements such as products being taken off shelves or returned to shelves and keeping track of them in a virtual cart. 

This whole “grab and go” shopping experience is clearly designed to make things easy for customers, in other words, meeting customers’ fundamental expectations.

1. Enrich customers journey

Once we are confident with our core services, it is time to think about taking customer experience to the next level. And our ability to enrich customers experience will set us apart from our competitors.

Sephora, for example, has done this well.

The cosmetic retailer, through its customer data, has realised that its customers crave product reviews and recommendations. So Sephora developed an app called Sephora to Go, which acts as a personal shopping assistant, providing product recommendations, reviews and pricing information.

With its data-driven strategy, Sephora has mastered the art of anticipation and with clever customisation, it has been able to enrich customers shopping journey hence creating a more memorable customer experience.

Take Home Messages

  • Technology advancement certainly has opened up endless opportunities for businesses to push boundaries and experiment with different types of customer experiences.
  • Businesses however, must remember that fulfilling the fundamental customer expectations, technology assisted or not, will always be the first step to creating a good customer experience.
  • Businesses can add value to and create an enriched customer experience by adopting a proactive strategy and tailored approach.
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Based in Melbourne, Australia, Suzi Chen is a cross-disciplinary strategist who manages a business consulting firm, Notonos Global and a cross-border commerce company, eBrand Secret. The former medical scientist is also an award winning graphic designer, blog contributor and an avid traveler whose journey includes being a summit facilitator at the United National Headquarters in New York City in 2016.   Proud to be an enthusiastic dreamer, Suzi loves the fact that the world is full of possibilities and her innovative mind gets inspirations from arts, travel and delivering grassroots community projects.   Suzi believes in life-long learning and holds a doctoral degree in medical sciences and several other business diplomas. Suzi sits on the company board of several non-profit organisations and chairs an Innovation and Business Development Committee for a community health service provider.