Guiding the Customer’s Experience from the Passenger Seat


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As customer experience professionals, it’s time we realized that we are no longer practicing customer experience management, but rather customer experience enablement. When it comes to the customer journey, we’re just along for the ride. This is not to say that we cannot have an effect on the customer experience, but the role that companies need to play with customers is more like a travel agent or concierge than a conductor.

I’m usually the one in my house who goes through the mail and sorts the junk from the relevant mail. I also do most of the food shopping for our household. Like many other people, we no longer get a newspaper delivered at home, but we get circulars bundled with the mail. I quickly page through these to look for coupon pages from restaurants we frequent, but I never look at the many grocery circulars.

Most often I go to Costco to stock up and to Trader Joe’s for other goods. I occasionally visit Whole Foods, Garden Fresh (a local fresh market) and a traditional old line grocery store, Jewel. Both Costco and Trader Joe’s do something similar that makes my experience better and helps me meet my objective of putting good food on the table without having to spend an hour cooking. Costco has numerous tasting stations for single items and for packaged foods used to prepare a simple recipe. Trader Joe’s works with an outside nutritionist/chef to create simple recipes using items found in their stores. The employees let you taste the creations and provide the recipes.

There are numerous times that I have tried new items that have become part of my regular rotation. I am not sure if these new items I purchase at Trader Joe’s and Costco have increased my overall spending at these stores or just kept it steady. What I do know is that I am using the traditional grocer and the fresh market less and less, mostly for packaged goods items or small amounts of fresh produce or herbs. I also consider myself a loyal customer of both Trader Joe’s and Costco.

Costco and Trader Joe’s are not actively trying to get me to purchase the specific items they are featuring, but rather they’re giving me ideas that let me make my own choices. If their ideas are good, I’ll get value and so will they in the form of incremental sales. They’ll also know pretty quickly if their ideas were successful, based on the relative spike in sales on featured items.

Whether spending on marketing, staff in stores and call centers, support content for the web, or any other customer-engagement content or tool, companies are making choices based on what they believe will have the best ROI. Using big data to create offers may help you make more relevant offers, but if it feels like a sell job and is focused on the product itself and not on how it will make the customer’s life easier or better, success will be limited. Coupons and discounts for having the grocer’s preferred card may be valuable to the customer, but does nothing to generate a stronger connection or value proposition that has staying power.

When you think of what a concierge does for customers, it’s about creating a great and memorable experience. The tastings and subsequent use of products and recipes at home are much more memorable than any discount or broad selection.

I wonder what return grocery stores are getting on the money they invest in circulars? It cannot be a small investment. My guess is they don’t really know and are scared of what will happen to their businesses if they turn off the advertising spigot. Given the relative performance of traditional grocery stores vs. Costco and Trader Joe’s, it seems like the traditional stores have to figure out how to transform themselves. The answer is not to copy Costco or Trader Joe’s , but to find their own formula for delivering value to customers beyond price, selection, and convenience.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Allenson
Michael is Founder of CXDriven. Formerly he was Principal CX Transformation Consultant at MaritzCX where he led a global team that consulted with clients on how to better leverage their customer experience management programs to drive business success. A frequent writer and presenter, Michael is passionate about helping companies leverage customer intelligence to take action that creates lasting customer relationships and sustainable improvements in growth and profitability. Over a 20+ year career, he has consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies and their leadership teams on how to uncover superior insights and turn them into action. Prior to his role at MaritzCX, Michael was a Senior Consultant for Maritz Research, Technomic, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants and Leo J. Shapiro and Associates.


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