It’s spring (here in the northern hemisphere). Long past your New Year’s resolutions and well into your annual objectives to strengthen your organization’s customer experience and, in turn, its performance. How’s it going?
I’ve met a few leaders recently who feel they started the year with great intentions, brilliant customer experience ideas. But now, things seem messy. Actions to improve the customer experience seem gummed up, lost in functional reorganizations, competing goals, hard implementation of tools and systems or one-off changes.
Customer experience isn’t about adding new processes; it’s about matching your performance chain to what customers will value. If an action, process, or step you ask of your customers doesn’t move them positively toward solving the need that triggered them to act in the first place, you’re simply creating waste. Clutter creeps in on the best intended organizations. Over time it becomes hard on everyone: front-line employees, managers, executives, and yes, your customers.
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In the spirit of spring cleaning, here are seven ideas to help you tidy up your customer experience and create cleaner running performance:
Start out with just enough about you. As prospects learn about their options, it’s tempting to tell them everything there is to know about the product or service you’re selling. Don’t. Instead, say and do just enough to make the prospect’s short list. It can be overwhelming to be bombarded with information right away. How much will they remember in two hours? At this step, customers are simply looking for good options to consider further. In early interactions, clean up the too-soon, too-much-information, clutter.
Stop selling. As prospects are looking for a solution to their problem, they want you to demonstrate what life would be like on the other side of a purchase with you solving their need. Show them; don’t sell them that you can. Sweep out feature and price comparisons or other bells and whistles that distract from the main point. You have 15 features and your competitor has 10? It only matters if all 15 are active parts of the “virtual reality” to solving the need that triggered your customer’s journey to you.
Clean out unnecessary requests. Sweep out requests for information or work from customers that don’t offer value in return. A tidy experience asks customers to share only the things or do only the tasks that move them forward quickly. We discovered one company asking for a slew of information at the point of sale, during account set up and in service interactions. They were asking the customer to do more work. And worse, they weren’t doing anything with that data for months, maybe ever.
Focus. Focus. Focus. Customers come to you for one reason: to solve a need. So why cut into their trust by poking customers with things that don’t have anything to do with their need. For example, years ago we worked with leaders at JASC Software (now Corel Corporation) to help market and sell more of their popular Paint Shop Pro software, a photo and web editing software. JASC knew its customers loved taking photos. They loved sharing photos. What their customers didn’t like was everything in between. JASC transformed retail shelf tags and packaging from a focus on price and features to a focus on the job customers were trying to do (solve the unpleasant stuff in the middle). Sales rose 20 percent. Why? Simple. They started focusing on their customer’s problem—and only their customer’s problem.
Take your customer’s perspective. You know that feeling when guests are due at your house in three minutes, and you suddenly notice flaws in your home you’ve never seen before? Art that doesn’t match the room. A chair that has seen better days. That’s because you’re looking at your home through the eyes of a guest, not through your normal view of living in the house seven days a week. Replicate that experience with your business by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you were the customer, what would you say about the experience your business provides?
Revisit your social media strategy. If your business is using social media, remember to keep a tight focus on three things: know which platforms work best when, focus on your customers – not your competitors, and align your staff and resources for social media. I hosted a webinar on this very topic a few months ago that featured an in-depth look at strengthening customer experience through social media. If you take a peek at the deck—I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hold on to customer feedback. One thing you shouldn’t toss out in your “spring cleaning”? Customer feedback. Whether you have a formal voice of the customer (VOC) system or simply respond to what comes in, review it quarterly to identify overarching trends. You might notice poor product experiences, or discover a certain interaction that is a “moment of truth” for your whole experience. Dust off this precious thing; never toss it out.
What about you? Are you doing any spring cleaning? What steps or processes within your customer experience are you looking to tidy up this year?