Understanding the customers is at the heart of all development. You have to know what they think of the company now and in the future. Customer experience should be measured constantly. And who wouldn’t want to receive praise or try to alleviate customer’s displease when something hasn’t gone according to plan?
Feedback questionnaires or testimonial requests received as an email or text message can feel completely redundant or even annoying. But you should offer customers a chance to express their opinions.
– You have to make good use of the feedback and communicate the summary you made based on it. Not responding to a negative feedback is a mistake. It reinforces the customer’s trust on you when you let them know that their concerns have been taken into consideration. In addition, they have to be able to feel that things are really going to change, says Kari Korkiakoski, Executive Director for Futurelab Finland and advocate for better customer experiences.
A true customer value proposition stands out from the rest
Development of customer experience can mean very different things depending on the line of business and the stage of company’s life cycle. While others are just beginning to form a new business concept, others hurry to secure their continuing existence.
Company’s internal struggles reflect on the customer service, and development requires humility and an honest assessment of the current situation. You should scrutinise not only your procedures but also staff’s abilities and satisfaction in their work place. No-one wants to lose customers to their competitors.
– Finnish specialised retail markets are already heading off outside Finland at full speed. Customers might come to the store to test a product, but the final purchase is made online wherever they find it at the cheapest price.
They buy at the store when they trust that the products are well-priced and they receive high-quality service. A claimed customer value proposition and the sense of having been treated fairly contribute to customer’s willingness to give a good reference.
Working towards a mutual goal
In order to begin developing customer experience, all parties must agree on the mutual goal. Management’s most important task is to secure staff’s commitment to change.
– Sales directors often think that the customer experience happens after the actual moment of purchase. The problem is that units see development from their own perspective and not how it reflects on the mutual goal.
Should everyone be treated the same?
The answer is no. A company has to identify an ideal market group amongst the customers that is worth all efforts. This means that most of the customers are happy, loyal and over-served, but that there are also those who receive less.
– Companies have to make strategic decisions and endure dissatisfaction. In order to keep the bank business profitable, it is sensible to close offices and reduce cash services, even though it can be an inconvenience to elderly people.
Online services that are preferred by consumers carry their own risks: a customer lost to the Internet.
– The only customer contact may easily be just a mailed invoice, if that. Without a relationship with the customer, it’s game over. It is important to create a memory when you are trying to stir an emotional response and gain customers’ loyalty – and it has to be created at a right moment, Kari Korkiakoski reminds us.
Kari Korkiakoski is Finland’s leading customer-centered business entrepreneur and expert in measuring customer experience.
This article has been published in Fiblon Customer and Stakeholder Magazine 2018-1