Everybody’s talking about customer experience these days, but how many companies actually follow through to ensure that their customers are getting the best experience possible? And how are they doing that?
Everybody’s heard the mantra, “You’ve got to think like the customer,” but unless you embed that into your company culture, and unless everybody from the top down has it embroidered on his/her brain, it’s too easy to develop “ease of use for me,” instead of “ease of use for customer” when thinking about systems and outcomes. And just “thinking like the customer” isn’t really enough to ensure a great experience. There are many business practices that need to dovetail correctly, as a business grows and develops more layers, this can get harder and harder to maintain.
However, I recently saw an article in Control Engineering that discussed a simple formula developed by Dennis Snow, a former Disney executive who now consults with organizations about designing great customer experiences. In the article, Snow talked about the top three things companies must do to ensure exemplary customer service:
- Look at everything through the customer’s lens
- Examine details
- Impress your customers
But what really struck me was the idea expressed in No. 3, impressing the customer. There he talked about creating a “customer expectation triangle” as a benchmark for your efforts, as illustrated in the pyramid below.
In this diagram, the two lowest levels, Accuracy and Availability are expected by your consumer, right? You must get them right every time. Delivering what you say you’re going to deliver and being accessible when your customers need you are critical.
However, the top two are opportunities to really “wow” your customers: teaching them something they didn’t know (advice), and making them feel that you are “partnering” in their success. These are markers of great customer service that will keep people coming back to you—but you need to build them on top of delivering the expected criteria. Think back to your own best experiences as a customer. Chances are that all four of these were consistently done well.
Enlist Employees to Help Design Your Success
What struck me about this formula is that it’s employee driven. Each of these four levels of service fail if your employees are not empowered to deliver them, which is why it’s imperative to involve employees in all aspects of designing customer experience. It can’t just be dictated to them—they have to feel invested in the outcome and excited about their part in it.
What if every employee in your company was taught to think in these terms with the goal of achieving all four levels in every interaction? What if they were empowered to come up with their own ideas on how these levels of service could be implemented? What if you could measure achievement of these goals at every level in your company, and put a system in place to reward those achievements? I think you’d be on fire!
Engineering customer experience means engineering your company, your systems and your culture so your employees can deliver that experience—and keep delivering it. Is it easy to do? No. But if you want to be more than just another competitor in your niche and develop relationships with your customers that result in loyalty and advocacy, it’s absolutely necessary.
Designing great customer experiences might not be easy, but it’s amazing what can be accomplished in the right environment. Some of the greatest achievements of this age began with a simple, clear vision that grew. As Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse.”