Are Customer Expectations Met?

6 Strategic Goals for Customer Experience Management - Opinionmeter

Part 3 of our series on Goals for CX Management

Customers have ever increasing expectations when they interact with companies. The US Office of Consumer Affairs in a 1976 study of US consumer satisfaction found that expectations of many customers were not being met because of out of stock products, less than desired quality, and weak customer service. Consequently, many companies introduced increased adherence to quality customer service principles in an attempt to eliminate all of the disappointing variables. Surprisingly, in a 2013 National Customer Rage survey, customer satisfaction was even lower than in 1976.

Even though companies had invested significant resources to improve customer experiences, the increasingly higher level of expectations customers had posed daunting challenges for companies. In other words, expectations are dynamic and will shift, and therefore, companies must be observant and vigilant about them. What this means is that the shifting dynamics of expectations have to be continuously adapted to. To meet, and perhaps exceed expectations, companies must be authentic.

Nordstrom is a classic example of a retailer who exceeds expectations. They have a “no questions asked” policy for returns at any time. In their early years, Nordstrom even refunded a customer’s money for the tires that the customer did not want. And Nordstrom never sold tires! They mean it when they say “Bring it back for a full refund or replacement.” It is no wonder that they rank among the highest in many third party assessments of customer satisfaction research. They are perceived to be authentic in their promise. It is noteworthy then that authenticity has become the prevailing purchasing criterion.

Higher levels of expectations have arisen from the democratization of information. Access to information is not monopolized; all customers now have access, and they also have the power of their voices that can be “megaphoned” through social media channels. With this level of empowerment, companies have to adopt CX strategies and create a customer responsive culture as an organization engine which is fueled by continuous attention to every interaction between customers and organizations with which they do business.

“Are customer expectations being met?” should be a relentless question, followed with “Are we perceived as authentic in everything we say we do and in how we do it?”

Meeting customer expectations should be the cornerstone of a relationship-building strategy. It is the cornerstone of building trust.

Best Practice Questions to Ask Your Organization

  • Do all our associates understand our journey maps and all touch points?
  • Do we know the needs of our customers?
  • Do we understand the characteristics of the types of customers we serve?
  • Do we have explicit customer centric policies?
  • Do associates understand what it means to be authentic?
  • How would we know expectations are met?
  • Do we provide internal feedback to build trust?
  • Do we respond to customers to build trust?
  • Do we have a defined written statement on what we think our targeted customer’s experience should be?
  • How are we measuring and improving engagement with customers at an individual level?

A training organization tailored to provide the on-the-go professional development in the CX discipline–and formerly of Opinionmeter, a company dedicated to helping organizations conduct effective, impactful customer experience programs for over 20 years. To learn more about CX University, please click here. To learn more about Opinionmeter’s unique mix of technology and best practice guidance, please visit Opinionmeter.com.

Is the Customer Experience Positive?

6 Strategic Goals for Customer Experience Management - Opinionmeter

Part 2 of our series on Goals for CX Management

Experience has economic value! To create this value, every customer journey touch point has to be thoughtfully crafted. Increasingly, companies like Taco Bell, Intuit, USAA, Bank One, Apple and Kohl’s, to name a few, have made customers central to their operations. Indeed, the revenues and profits produced from this approach can amount to billions of dollars. Customer experience has become the modern competitive differentiator. In this new ‘experience economy’, Pine and Gilmore, argue that in addition to selling quality products and services, companies must “stage” experiences that are compelling. This comes from creating and implementing creative design principles so that companies can move away from a commoditized mentality of mass merchandizing.

Companies must think about what they sell and do differently than they have in the past and differently from competition. They have to dress up their ‘acts’ so that customers walk away feeling they have been affected emotionally and cognitively. Starbucks and Apple are terrific examples of companies that have staged experiences. Think about it, Starbucks has created an ‘experience’ space for one to have coffee, with an option to buy and go. Apple has created a learning environment for a cross-section of their customers, young and old. We tend to think about consumers using touch primarily because they have to — in order to examine packages and to fill shopping carts. However, touch can also create symbolic connections between people and products, and between buyers and sellers.

Physically holding products can create a sense of psychological ownership, driving must-have purchase decisions. This idea may underlie the push to move inventory from display cases into customers’ hands, a trend seen in many electronics outlets such as the Apple Store and Best Buy.

To stage experiences that are different from past routines is a challenge and the next frontier of innovation. Casper, a small new e-commerce start-up, has disrupted the mattress purchase experience, and has demonstrated that even something as boring can be transformed into an exciting journey. They go beyond selling a sleeping surface. With an ‘outrageously comfortable mattress direct to the consumer’ sales approach coupled with compressed shipping delivered to your door and a 100% 100 day return guarantee, Casper has won the hearts of customers.

Even those who return mattresses because they are not be comfortable praise Casper for the experience. They even provide simple instructions, a useful cutter to break the plastic wrap, a handwritten thank-you note, and even a book for a bedtime read.

The economics are very obvious; companies that stage positive experiences with a deep understanding of human behavior enjoy greater market share, revenue growth, higher stock price and profitability. Casper attracted $15 million in venture funding and had sales of $20 million in ten months since its launch in April, 2014.

Best Practice Questions to Ask Your Organization

  • Have we designed a customer journey map?
  • Have we included the voice of all associates who have a customer facing role?
  • Do we know the relative impact of all the touch points in customer journeys?
  • How are we measuring these touch points?
  • Will we know when touch points are not frictionless?
  • Are all our associates familiar with our journey map(s)?
  • Is the experience personalized where customers feel that their needs have been met?
  • Is the experience uniformly positive and consistent through different touch points? Are touch point measures tied to associate performance?

A training organization tailored to provide the on-the-go professional development in the CX discipline–and formerly of Opinionmeter, a company dedicated to helping organizations conduct effective, impactful customer experience programs for over 20 years. To learn more about CX University, please click here. To learn more about Opinionmeter’s unique mix of technology and best practice guidance, please visit Opinionmeter.com.

6 Strategic Goals for Customer Experience Management

6 Strategic Goals for Customer Experience Management - Opinionmeter

Part 1 of a series

This is the age of the customer! The evidence is very clear – customers along with their wallets can go where they want to. They will go where they perceive and receive the greatest value, not only from the perspective of price, but also from their belief that the people and organizations they interact with really care about them and their needs. Companies believe that focusing on customers offers competitive advantages.
6 Strategic Questions
To achieve competitive advantages from a customer experience management program or system, companies must consider and address six key strategic imperatives. Together, these imperatives, support and promote a holistic and systemic view of any customer experience management initiative, and if implemented well, will deliver competitive advantages.

Even a cursory glance across what we now refer to as the “experience economy” reveals a new landscape, one in which the customer is empowered. This landscape has spurred a whole new dynamic in the business world. Virtual shopping is becoming increasingly dominant. Amazon is an example of an e-commerce business that has grown from $14.84 billion in 2007 to $88.99 billion in 2014, and is well on its way to crossing the $100 billion mark.

Showrooming (customers who visit to see products in brick and mortar stores but buy online) is showing up the brick and mortar space. Omni-channel journeys are now the new normal. All of these changes do not portend well for those who ignore critical strategic intersections. Every interaction is an opportunity for a more deliberate, intentional experience. Even a look at language, visuals, sounds, and smells are part of the strategic mosaic to convey intent.

The landscape of customer experience is complex and must include consideration of employee experiences, channel partner experiences, web and brick and mortar journey experiences, call center interactions and overall design elements. Note that we are not speaking about tactical customer journey touch points, but rather about strategic touch points that reflect a company’s strategic positioning and intent. Let us review six strategic imperatives.

  1. Is the experience of shopping (virtual or physical) positive?
  2. Are customers’ expectations met?
  3. Are the offerings congruent with ethical principles?
  4. Is the overall environment for shopping/buying positive?
  5. Is there an exchange?
  6. Are employees engaged?

We’ll explore these six imperatives over the coming weeks in our series. Be sure to check back for each installment, and please let us know your comments and experiences in this space.

A training organization tailored to provide the on-the-go professional development in the CX discipline–and formerly of Opinionmeter, a company dedicated to helping organizations conduct effective, impactful customer experience programs for over 20 years. To learn more about CX University, please click here. To learn more about Opinionmeter’s unique mix of technology and best practice guidance, please visit Opinionmeter.com.