The Customer Experience Strategy
Apple Inc stands out as one of the most innovative and customer-focused companies in the world. Their brand positioning and value from its products has catapulted them to one of the most valuable brands in the market today. The visionary responsible for Apple’s monumental growth is none other than its founder Steve Jobs. The fundamental principle he followed in all his strategies was to keep his customers at the center and simplify their lives with Apple products.
All of Apple’s products had a customer-first approach and they invested heavily on understanding customers and their pain points. The products aimed for the best customer experience across different domains and ensured that every user craved to use an Apple product. This strategy transformed Apple into a religion from a technology company. When we look at the way we currently solve customer problems, we tend to start with the technological feasibility and then work towards solving the problem at hand. If the solutions are not feasible from a technological standpoint, certain customer needs are compromised.
Taking customer needs as a primary lever over technology is a very challenging move. Here organizations must be ready to adapt and experiment with little to no historical data to solve customer problems that are in front of them. This would require them to challenge the traditional ways in which they look at technology and the approach towards customer-centricity.
Customer Experience Foundations
The foundation of all customer experiences focuses on the cumulation of the value provided to the customer during their interaction with the brand. At all stages of the customer journey, the customer experience encompasses all the ways a customer interacts with the brand.
When we look at it from a product standpoint, the total product experience is the primary value offered to the customers. Here we have to take into account how the customer experiences the product, how the product delivers a lasting impression, and helps build a connection with the brand.
For businesses to succeed, a positive customer experience is crucial. A loyal customer can boost your revenue to eventually promote and advocate for you. This brings in more business from their network.
Variables Influencing Customer Experience
Nowadays, no company can afford to provide a substandard customer experience regardless of the industry, their experience in the market, or their reputation. The way organizations deal with customers influence retention rates, brand value, and finally the financial performance. Given these facts, there are a couple of variables that are responsible for the overall customer experience.
1. Customer-Centric Culture
Businesses that treat their customers as king, the most prized asset for the organization, have reported higher returns than compared to their counterparts who do not emphasize the stance.
A customer-centric culture revolves around solving customer problems and adding real value at the end of the day. The organization’s leaders must take the effort to ensure that the teams focus on providing consistent customer experience through their marketing, sales cycle, and during the customer service phase.
A customer-centric work culture brings in the values of being there for the customer, solving their critical needs, and supporting them through the resolution process.
2. Product Value
A product that doesn’t solve customer needs and problems does not add value at all. Products that target all the pain points of the customer’s needs and expectations require lesser post-sales support than a product that does not.
Sustained success lies in a well-built product. Regardless of the brand’s industry and specialization, the product is what defines the brand. Even though marketing, sales, and customer service are required for a business to thrive, the brand will fail if the product is not effective.
3. Customer Touch Points
A connected customer is vital to all organizations. Reliability of brand strongly revolves around how easily the customer can approach representatives to either know about the product or solve some issues post the sale. Hence, providing customers with effective touchpoints from multiple channels is important to keep customers engaged and be readily available to solve any issues they are facing. These channels and touchpoints can include email, phone, text, instant messaging, social media, website, or even a third-party review site. All focus on getting connected to the customer and being there to address their needs.
Technologies have enabled brands to connect with customers deeper than ever before. Companies now use technology to prevent and avoid losses and create solutions to their shortcoming in their customer experience strategies. Personal analytics instruments help organizations get real-time feedback and analyze the customer pulse.
Technology enables brands to modernize and structure their products effectively and maximize their efficiency. It helps reduce or eliminate labor-intensive customer requests and speeds up the completion time of the processes. This empowers brands to have additional functionalities and cut costs at the same time.
A unified team of individuals makes a successful customer experience possible. Suppliers, marketers, salesmen, customer service agents, and many others play an essential role in delivering the best-in-class customer experience. For this to happen, each of these individuals must be well-versed with the organizational strategy and have the morale to implement an impactful customer experience that adds value.
Value-Driven Customer Experiences
When customers show their interest towards a brand’s product, they invest their time and money in the entire process. From the product, customers aim to gain business benefits that drive value for the brand. Out of all the variables that influence the customer experience, the product pricing and the contract value has an indirect influence on the type of relationship the customers will have with the brand.
A study conducted by Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager on “Understanding Customer Experience” published in the Harvard Business Review, talks about classifying customers based on the billed revenues and their satisfaction scores.
Here we can see that 4 different types of customers are formed out of the matrix. Dangling, Growth, At-Risk and Model Customers. An ideal business would always strive to maximize the number of model customers that churn out high volume of billed revenue and are satisfied with the service that they receive.
The challenge here is to create a state where customers are comfortable with investing in a product that can guarantee business benefits out of its utilization. To achieve this state, brands must work towards understanding the value matrix that the product offers and tie its output with a measurable value realization for their customers. If the business benefits cannot be measured, customers tend to not invest heavily in the product and remain in the growth segment of the matrix.
At the end of the day, it’s the customer experience that’s at the heart of the product, that makes them realize the product’s true value and impact on their own business.
About the Author –
Ashish Joseph is a Lead Consultant at GAVS working for a healthcare client in the Product Management space. His areas of expertise lie in branding and outbound product management.
He runs two independent series called BizPective & The Inside World, focusing on breaking down contemporary business trends and Growth strategies for independent artists on his website www.ashishjoseph.biz
Outside work, he is very passionate about basketball, music, and food.