Every business creates a customer experience. Be it an airline, an App, a restaurant or your new iPhone, there is always an experience created between the product or service and the customer. This creates an emotional response and/ or engagement which affects brand loyalty, word of mouth promotion or detraction. The point is, if we want to stand apart we have to have the customer in mind, we have to consider what would make a great experience and with that one that is better/ differentiated to our competitors.
The success of Apple is largely due to its relentless focus on the customer experience that infiltrates every aspect of their business: whether that is the amazing retail experience (Apple consistently have the highest sales per square foot of any U.S. retailer) or the experience and functionality of the latest iPhone, to how they package and present their products. Virgin is also another great example of a company that gets customer service. Their results and achievements demonstrate the power of their brand. Branson and his team don’t do anything remarkably different outside of dedicating a massive amount of focus towards providing the customer the very best service and creating an experience that is superior to their competitors. WalMart, too, had an average return to shareholders of over 60% year-on-year for 30 years by focusing on one thing: the customer. These brands endear a lot of customer loyalty and brand equity for their efforts further to cheaper customer acquisition, longer retention, customers become brand ambassadors (who else could get people camping outside their store overnight in the rain to get the latest iPhone) and Apple in particular have proven that despite not always having the greatest market share they always have the best margins and profitability.
Where technology meets customer service
The beauty of all of this is you don’t have to do anything remarkable to create this experience as there are so many organisations that don’t get it. After speaking to a technology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley recently he said the people most in demand in the Valley right now in his opinion are the people who truly get the user experience. Uber is a great example. The process of booking, using and paying for the service is so seamless and easy – not to mention more cost effective – compared with the alternative; hence their success. The magic is the simplicity of their business model which clearly focuses on the customer.
Never before has customer experience been as important and technology becomes both an enabler and disruptive force. This wave of innovation is ultimately focused on creating efficiencies which in turn is driven by improving the customer experience. This is an exciting movement to be part of and I believe that focusing on the customer experience using technology as an enabler is critically important for us all. In the modern age somehow we are all in the technology business, as Dominos CEO Don Meij is quoted, “we are a technology company that just so happens to deliver Pizza’s”. Furthermore and without doubt we are all in the customer service business.
In closing, people have a fundamental desire for a better life. To offer a better life, the customer experience must unequivocally be at the centre of every product and service. This drives brand loyalty, success and many other positive outcomes. Technology can drive this, however we must not forget about the importance of a relentless focus on customer service.
Something for us all to think about.
By Shaun McCambridge, Managing Director, Stellar Recruitment