3 Ways To Shrink The Customer Experience Gap
The days of being successful by offering a differentiated product are over.
Ultimate success now comes when you make your customer feel as if they are part of your family. You want them to feel the love for your brand/product/company, and then share that love with their personal and professional circles.
For today’s consumer, shopping is shopping, plain and simple. What they expect is to feel valued, appreciated and loved by you. Many businesses understand the importance of this concept, but there remains a dissonance between theory and practice.
What Is The Customer Experience Gap?
The customer experience gap is the difference between what the customer expects and what they experience across industries and commercial channels. The truth is many industries in the B2C and B2C marketplaces are significantly behind the level of service, speed and overall shopping experience expected by modern consumers.
Now more than ever you need a world-class customer experience. With Amazon leading the way in the disruption of B2C retail, the customer shopping experience is forever changed.
Let's face it; you have your work cut out for you when Amazon offers personalized, one-click purchasing, free shipping, and same-day delivery seem like a breeze.
How Do You Begin To Close The Customer Experience Gap?
If you want customers to rave about your company and give you lots of LOVE, you have to focus on improving the following three areas of your business:
1. Employee Engagement Improving employee engagement is highly correlated with improving customer experience and profitable growth.
According to a report from the Temkin Group, highly engaged employees are more than four times as likely to recommend the company’s products and services and do something good for the company that is not expected of them.
Also, engaged employees are 2.5 times as likely to stay at work late if something needs to be done after the normal workday ends, and seven times as likely to recommend that a friend or relative apply for a job at their company.
The problem is that most companies are failing to engage and inspire their workforce. According to the data company Gallup, only 31.5 percent of the U.S. workforce consider itself engaged in work. (In its study, Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.)
How To Engage Employees?
How to engage employees is a post for another day, but promoting authenticity, focusing on positive attributes, asking for critical feedback, and appreciating their value are excellent starting points.
Employees are most engaged when they feel a sense of responsibility and are placed in roles of influence and responsibility.
2. Digital Capabilities You’ll need to implement holistic digital platforms and deliver a seamless experience. Customers increasingly choose to engage with brands across various digital channels that can deliver smarter, connected, personalized, and seamless experiences. This is a tough job, but creating engaging, multichannel, and personal experiences for your digital customers will deliver the best experience.
Disney’s Seamless Success
Disney provides seamless digital experiences right down to the smallest details. It starts with your initial experience on the entertainment giant’s beautiful, mobile-responsive website. Once you’ve booked a trip, the My Disney Experience tool plans your entire trip, including where you will dine and securing your Fast Pass. In the park, you can use your mobile app to locate the attractions you want to visit, as well as view the estimated wait time for each of them. The Magic Band program acts as a hotel room key, fast pass, photo storage device, and a food ordering tool.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, 87% of polled executives said having the technology and infrastructure to study customer experience is crucial to making improvements. However, 75% of the organizations surveyed in the research aren't able to fulfill this requirement as they lack the technology for uniting systems that collect social, mobile, and e-commerce data to produce a single and directly accessible source of customer intelligence.
3. Cross-Functional Collaborations As long as each business unit is an island by itself, there will be massive amounts of spent energy, financial leakage, and bad customer experiences. I call this bad experience "customer amnesia." It occurs because each time a customer interacts with a different unit or channel, the previous interaction is unknown or forgotten.
Brands have the most success when they focus on how people work together, what the needs of customers are, and understanding the culture of the different units so that a shared approach can be used to drive success.
You need to have a customer-centric mindset, where cross-functional collaboration will serve as the gateway to untapped growth, innovation, and service excellence.
The Zappos Experiment
One company that is as a benchmark for cross-functional collaborations is Zappos. Zappos is experimenting with a controversial form of a cross-functional collaboration called Holacracy. Holacracy is a method of decentralized management and organizational governance, in which authority and decision-making are distributed throughout self-organizing teams rather than being vested in management only.
Zappos employees are responsible for understanding their role and how it fits with the roles of others on the team. The teams are flexible, evolving according to one’s capabilities and the needs of the team. There is never a set job description, and multiple leaders emerge depending on the current need.
While this style is not for everyone, no one can deny the superior customer experience that Zappos offers. The website is simple, intuitive, easy-to-use, and designed to make the buying and returning experience very enjoyable. According to Jon Wolske, a culture evangelist from Zappos Insights, 75 to 80 percent of Zappos visitors are returning customers. Further, of the 25 percent of customers that are new, about 40 percent indicate that friends or family told them about the Zappos experience.
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