“Customer Experience” is a marketing buzzword to describe how well a business satisfies the needs of its customers before, during, and after the buying process. Clearly, to do better at Customer Experience (or “CX” if you’re a skinny-jeans wearing hipster who thinks working on your MacBook at Starbucks every day makes you cool) you need to understand your customers.
Like any business owner, you think you understand what makes your customers tick. You believe you understand why they buy your product or service.
But have you ever, personally, gone through the buying process that your customers go through?
Owning The Customer Experience
Depending on your business, there may be a number of external influences that are not directly under your control. That may have a fundamental effect on how your business value is perceived by your customers. A series of hoops that your prospective customers have to jump through to get to your value offering.
Perhaps your software is sold via third-parties like retailers, distributors, integrators or VARs. Perhaps your food is ‘sold’ by your serving staff. Perhaps your conference is promoted by direct sales personnel.
Customers are a funny bunch. They make up their minds about a company based on their experience in dealing with that business in ways that most organizations may not consider.
Did it take too long for someone to answer the phone, or reply to my email? Can I pay by PayPal instead of using a credit card? Did the salesperson who visited me have bad breath? Was the demo simply a canned walkthrough of the product features, rather than a tailored demonstration addressing my particular concerns?
Standing In Your Own Queue
Often the only sure way of knowing if your customer experience is sufficiently optimized is to pretend to be a customer yourself – standing in your own queue.
What do I mean? I mean going through same set of motions a potential customer would do – also sometimes known as the buyers’ journey. Calling-up the office as though you’re a potential customer. Going through the steps to purchase a product from your eCommerce website (maybe changing your mind a few times along the way). Checking to see how clean the washrooms are an hour before closing time.
Last year the Marketing Leadership Council conducted a study and found that 53% of customer loyalty was attributable to experiences related to the purchasing experience – i.e. not the product or service itself. We’re not talking about how a particular product/service may have met their expectations. We’re not even referring to pricing or company branding/positioning. Simply how the process of buying whatever it was made them feel.
Here’s a worthwhile exercise for every business owner, marketers, or product manager. Stand in your own queue. Take your own medicine.
Have you ever actually bought your product? Have you ever bought the product of your competitor?
How do the experiences compare?