"By 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.” Now that 2017 has arrived, it would be interesting to see how customer experience is becoming the new battlefield as Gartner declared in 2014. What are examples of innovations in customer experience that can give you the winning edge?
The important innovation
Let’s talk about innovation first. Innovation is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.
It is Gillette’s strategy to introduce an extra blade in her razors every few years and sell it as a world changing innovation. The current count is five blades per razor. Of course Gilette is successful and people are still willing to pay for their products, but how long will this strategy hold? Do we as consumers really care about the number of blades? (Take a look at the amount of spoofs with up to 22 blades if you Google 'Gilette 6 blades’.)
Initiatives such as Dollar Shave Club or Holland’s own Boldking show that the real innovation is service and customer experience. Not creating a roadmap of adding blades.
Can you call it a surprise Gillette <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/04/29/gillette-subscription-service-takes-aim-at-dollar-shave-club/ target="_blank">launched her own blade delivery service?
CX is the key differentiator
Customer experience has become more and more important for companies over the past few years. In fact, it has become the key differentiator. “In many ways, most products are commodities with pricing handled automatically by algorithms, and shipping largely the same everywhere. We can, though, offer a different experience with things like personalization, customized product offerings and content that builds a community.” says Merle McIntosh, SVP of Sales & Marketing at Newegg in a blogpost on Loyalty360.
Mercedes Benz's CEO Steve Canon goes as far as to say that "Customer Experience is the New Marketing".
Not the product itself but the experience around it has become the most important thing. People are even willing to pay for better service, says page 26 of Xerox’ study 'The State of Customer Service'.
What is a ‘great experience’?
An entrenched idea is that companies must delight their customers to create a great customer experience and get loyal customers as a result. That is not the case: “When it comes to service, companies create loyal customers primarily by helping them solve their problems quickly and easily” say Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman and Nicholas Toman in their Harvard Business Review article 'Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers'. The article’s conclusion is simple: you create a great experience for your customers by removing obstacles, by making doing business with you easy. That in turn will create loyal customers.
How to be a winner
Nicholas Webb, Innovation thought leader, author and keynote speaker, wanted to know what makes today’s best organizations around the world so successful. He discovered three things they all do:
- They make an absolute commitment to becoming a customer-centric business;
- They break their customers into customer types rather than using old-fashioned market segmentation;
- These organizations look at customer experience as a design activity and they design exceptional customer experiences across the five key touch points of their customers’ journey.
Where does your organization stand when it comes to these points?
The winning ingredient: personal data
In order to be customer-centric and know what types of customers you serve, the power of CRM cannot be denied. Blake Morgan from Forbes states in her article 'Five trends shaping the future of customer experience in 2017' that data defines the customer experience you deliver. Simply put: the more you know about your customer, the better you can help her.
Why ask for information you already have? Why force people to call if they want to do business online? Some retailers in the US already use facial recognition software and security cameras to detect who a customer is when they walk into a store to deliver an even more personal experience.
The real innovation of today is service and customer experience, not products. But don’t interpret delivering a great customer experience as delighting your customers and exceeding their expectations. Make sure you cover the fundamentals first, meet their expectations and deliver on your brand promises.
The companies that will be victorious on the Battlefield of Customer Experience are those that are absolutely committed to becoming a customer-centric business. Those that know how to help their customers quickly and easily. And the more they know about their customers, the better they can help them.
We look forward to the rest of 2017 and wish you a lot of success on the Battlefield of Customer Experience!