Customer experience is not the new battleground anymore. It’s THE battleground. And it all centers around the word value.
How can we provide value in what we offer to customers?
How can we define and promote our values in our customer experience, so customers can align their values with ours?
Finally, how can we make our customers feel valued and important?
More customers today are driven by values, which are tied to emotion. As the next generations make decisions, they put even more emphasis on values and emotions. This means we have to connect the dots between what we do and how our customers feel about.
We often focus on discussing value as the simple equation of “is this worth what I paid for it?” Easy enough, but that perceived value can change for your customer, based solely on their experiences with your brand.
Years ago, I was a shopper at a nearby discount department store.
We had a family discount card and little kids, so there were a lot of reasons to shop there. They had things we wanted, like toys and household items, and the prices were right.
Then…I started avoiding those stores. It was a gradual realization I didn’t like shopping there as the experience deteriorated. The stores were cluttered and dusty. The people were apathetic about their jobs. Things were impossible to find.
And as my newly-purchased products were shoved carelessly into plastic bags, I would think…ugh. Why do this to myself? It’s not worth it.
That’s what’s so tricky about customer experience values. The value of “bang for my buck” couldn’t outweigh the feeling of “yuck.”
I would have answered a survey question of “were you satisfied with your purchase today?” with the technically-correct-but-totally-untelling “Sure.” I technically was satisfied with the purchase, but felt frustrated, angry, annoyed and even out-of-place in that environment.
The value of the product wasn’t worth the experience I endured.
And what were the values of the store in question? Originally, I would have said their values were to provide great things at good prices for families.
But when the experience continued to drag behind expectations, it was hard to identify what values they held. It felt like profit was the only motive. The process of rectifying situations like returns or receiving promised discounts was punitive and full of customer blaming.
It began to feel like if this brand was a person, I’d avoid them and their slimy ways.
My values include showing compassion and empathy to my fellow humans. Their values seemed to misalign with these basics.
What are the ways we push our customers to feel better or worse about their experience with us? Are the stores dirty? Is navigating our site difficult?
These types of experiences send subtle messages that we simply don’t care about you, Ms. Customer. We don’t think investing in YOUR experience with our brand is worth it. We know you’ll make that purchase and walk away and we’ll keep your money. That’s our agreement.
We don’t have to go beyond the basics, thanks very much.
Avoiding investment in the actual experience of customers shows them they aren’t valued.
Looking ahead, we need to get clever about creating positive moments for our customers both when it’s expected and when it’s not. Look for ways to go beyond surprise and delight and ask yourself, what emotions do we want to create here?
How can we reassure the customer in this moment they are important and valued?
How can we create a moment of happiness, or caring or even just acknowledgment?
How can we share our values in words and actions so customers can feel good about working with us?
We need to stop assuming the best and look for when our customers feel the worst. These are the moments that enlighten us about ways to provide just that much more for customers.
That’s when we start seeing ways the experience we designed doesn’t live up to our own values.
That’s where we see opportunities to create more value in the experience we offer.
Where are your values in customer experience? If you can’t answer that question, it’s time to start considering the value you offer, the values you promote and the way you value each customer!