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September 1, 2015

Is the “Customer Experience” improving in our society?

waiter2In the course of just a few days last week, I had four separate [unexpected] experiences that made me wonder if businesses are finally starting to “get it”… and understand that the Customer Experience may be the most important aspect of marketing, let alone its obvious impact on satisfaction and loyalty.

Friday evening, we went to a nearby burger & beer joint for dinner – a place where the locals hang out. After placing our food order… it was delivered to us in less than 3 minutes. It was so fast, in fact, we thought they had brought someone else’s food to our table by mistake. Unbelievable!!

Next, dinner at a very popular restaurant in downtown Nashville on Saturday. The atmosphere was alive, the food was excellent and very well presented, but what made it a great experience for me was our waiter… he may have genuinely been the best waiter I have ever had at any restaurant anywhere. Friendly, engaging, funny, knowledgeable and an understanding of when to be present and when not to be. Wow!

Then, we did a little shopping at Target on Sunday. A small on-sale item rang up at the non-sale price at the register. But, rather than run to the back of the store or call someone to find the exact price – and waste my time and his – the cashier just picked a dollar amount that was less than the sale amount and manually entered it so we could be on our way. He didn’t even have to go ask a manager for permission!

After shopping at Target, we ran to the McDonald’s drive-thru for a quick snack. My wife ordered a large drink, but when we got to the window, they had a small one waiting. The woman in the window apologized, had us keep the small drink, gave us the large one we had ordered and, most impressively, took the blame (“that was out fault”). At McDonald’s?!

OK… not really earth-shattering stories, to be fair… but far better than most of the customer service nightmares I’ve seen day-in and day-out, particularly in the retail world.

Is it possible that businesses are finally realizing that with everyone having similar products and services, equivalent pricing and access to the same technology… that the only way to compete and to stand out from the crowd is to out-service the others? To give them a better-than-expected buying experience?

And while it’s not quite as dramatic in the B2B world of Market Research… the same ideas apply. Your services are probably pretty similar to those of your competitors… your prices are probably in the same ballpark… for you tech companies, your software platforms aren’t that different… and for you research agencies, the insights that you uncover are not dramatically different than what others would find.

So, how do you compete? How do you stand out? How do you get prospects to take a chance with you the first time – and more importantly – to keep coming back again and again?

Doing good work, yes… but it’s more than that – it’s the overall customer experience. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and answer this question… “What do I need to see/feel/experience that will blow my socks off and want me coming back for more?”

Effectively answer that question and you’ll be sitting in the catbird seat. And here’s the thing… this is not just a mental exercise. Your clients DO want to be “wowed”… they ARE looking for that remarkable CX… and they DO want to find suppliers who can actually deliver it.

Is your firm one of them?

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