By Hamdy Michael Ayas
Delivering superior experiences to customers has many benefits for optimizing returns on investments and it can be a significant value adding factor. For example, it can lead to achieving a competitive advantage from the branding level. In addition, through the experiences of customers, a powerful positioning can be established for being perceived as the best of class in service.
This requires a strong understanding of how the customers want to experience their journeys of interactions with the organisation as well as acting effectively upon this understanding. Understanding the way that customers develop their perception about a brand leads to ways of managing their perceptions and delivering superior experiences. But how is it possible to structure the way that customers develop their perception about your brand?
- Defining interaction touch points with customers: Every touch point of interaction between a brand and a customer contributes to forming the total experience that a customer will have. A Touch Point, as an interaction instance of a customer with the brand, can take place in many ways, from simple/obvious instances to well-hidden effects.
- Creating superior experiences: Transforming your offerings from unidimensional products/services into comprehensive experiences enables the delivery of significant added value. For example, a sportscar, can have two engines with the same output. A smooth continuous sound from the engine can give the perception of stability and power but on the other hand, a rough and intermitted sound might give the experience of an old machine and set lower performance expectations. In terms of perceived value however, the rough sound can be associated with vintage machinery. In combination with other experiences of similar associations during the interactions journey of the customer this can result to a superior driving experience.
- Giving some ownership of the interactions to customers: Every touch-point of interaction consists of a two-way communication and the input of the customer is crucial to be heart. For example, two questions that a field engineer can ask prior a visit, have an equal meaning but lead to very unequal results in terms of customer satisfaction. Getting the opinion of the customer and deciding together the date of a visit by using “When would you like us to be at your site?” develops a superior experience than just informing the customer that “We can be with you earliest on Friday”.
- Traveling the customer journey: Usually, a customer is going through several interactions with a company/brand during an experience and there is an entire journey of interactions that determines the customer’s perception. For example, a customer navigates on the website to find information, comes in contact to submit a request, receives a service, uses a piece of equipment and so on.
- Anticipate what customers expect in every interaction: In a Customer Corridor, during the end-to-end set of interactions that the customer has with the organisation, a set of expectations setting takes place. Most importantly, the way that the organisation interacts creates a set of responses on these set expectations and the customer’s perception of the organization’s brand is determined by meeting or failing to meet these expectations.
Therefore, offerings by themselves can create value but they are not enough to create customer delight. Customer delight is created by successfully playing the game of setting the right expectations for the right price and then exceeding these expectations. And setting the right expectations in a precise and systematic manner needs the development of value-driven operational qualities.