Extreme customer experience: there is no alternative.

Extreme customer experience: there is no alternative.

Whether you are an industrial player, a service provider, in the commodity business, a high-tech start-up or an independent contractor, there is only one sustainable approach towards growth. With the quick product development of today & the stream of quick and easy copycats that work at a much lower cost than you are, the only way to retain customers is by offering something that is far more difficult to copy: an awesome experience. Yes, sorry to break the news, but your customers are not buying your product or service because it’s the best in the world, they buy a solution, an experience that brings the most value to them. And value = f(product characteristics, price, easy of doing business, easy of use, fun, how they can talk about it to their peers, the price,…).

But what about Value Proposition?

Off course, there is the model of Customer Value Propositions, where the insight behind is that a company should choose where it want’s to beat the competition. The goal is that you are ‘on par’ on all the 3 axes, but divert all your focus on one specific access to win the game there.

Value Propositions
Source: The Discipline of Market Leaders, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema.

With this in mind, you might be inclined to think that focussing on Customer experience is only one option. However, I want to advocate that Customer Experience is not the same as customer Intimacy and that you relentlessly should focus on customer intimacy regardless of your positioning. So yes, you still can be a Product leader, but you will never have the best product when you are not going for extreme customer experience. The reason is simple: the experience is your product seen through the eyes of the customer. Nobody will buy an iPhone if you need to assemble it yourself, put 20 hours in configuring it,… Same goes for operational excellence. Even if you focus on low cost, the way to bring it to customers needs to be extremely good. Of course, the customers experience will be different, but needs to be designed with the Value Proposition in mind. Take a look at the experience Colruyt is given: It’s completely different than that of Delhaize, be they are relentless a creating a unified experience (no locks on the shopping carts, industrial lighting, the walk-in-freezer,…).

So bottom line: don’t let your positioning be an excuse to not go for Extreme customer Experience.

I’m passionate about extreme customer experience. Want to talk about it over a coffee or need some inspiration: let’s talk! A sneak preview of what I can bring to the table.

Creating your organisation around the customers you have or the ones you want?

Why is it that most processes in companies are build to what I would call: ’mitigate the negative behaviour of bad customers’??

Let me explain this one. You all know these scenario’s: Before somebody can become a customer, she has to pass a complicated credit scoring system. This system is build not to help identify the ‘good’ customers, but to weed out the ‘bad’ ones; We set up control mechanisms, so customers can not combine 2 types of promo; You let them sign a 10 page contract; We make huge costs to divert customers to an online portal not because they have 24/7 access, but because it is cheaper than connecting them to a call agent. We have huge disclaimers to avoid complaints, refined dunning processes to get the money back from non-paying customers, triple identification,…

The problem with this is, that the majority of your customers are not trying to screw you. So you end up with a customer experience that is designed to rule out surprises for your company coming from 5% of your customers, but causes huge delays, frustration, waiting periods,… for the 95% of your good customers.

Result: huge loss of money, your good customers don’t feel threaded as they should and your organisation ultimately becomes build around fear and ways to avoid issues instead of creating added value.

What customers do you want to work for every day?