The element of surprise is the ultimate equalizer. Remember that? Here’s another clue, check it out…
I was reading 99 Percent’s interview with the founder of Slice Perfect, Miki Agrawal, an unorthodox pizzeria in NY. The interview is all about how he ‘surprised himself’ but the last question (about their marketing strategy) reveals an interesting answer:
It’s about being unorthodox, it’s about how you stand out. When you think about branding, you have to think about every touch point of a business. You can’t just change the ingredients because that’s not enough. You have to change the packaging, the marketing materials, the web experience. Everything has to change to create an impactful experience.
So we try to NOT look like a pizza place, but still have that familiar feeling. Our packaging is long, rectangular boxes; we serve the piece in four bite-sized pieces on a sushi plate. It’s a neat and clean, pristine experience; it’s not like you’re picking up this giant pizza slice. It slows down your eating. You’re not shoveling something into your mouth. You allow your stomach to catch up to your brain. It also promotes sharing. I can order a different pizza from you, and we can share.
So those are three differentiating elements: it’s neater and cleaner, it slows down eating, and it promotes sharing. So it’s a different experience.
Bingo! Meaningful difference is what I got from that answer. Anybody who hears that will ‘get it’ right away. What’s also awesome, is the way he puts it: We try NOT to look like a pizza place. That’s a good way to ‘surprise yourself’ and shatter expectations.
Want to do the same?
Every business wants to offer a great customer experience — but what exactly does “customer experience refer to? And why is it so important?
Many businesses think that if you offer a good product at a reasonable price, you’ve done enough to please the customer. But that’s not the case. A business must consider many elements of the overall customer experience in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
The key to customer retention is the customer experience, so let’s dive into what that means and how to make it work for you.
Overview: What is the customer experience?
The term “customer experience” refers to the entire journey a customer has with your company, from interacting with your sales team to experiencing the product to working out issues with customer support — and, hopefully, buying from you again.
A complete customer experience is vital for a business, as even if a company succeeds at one element — i.e., a great product — the customer may still end up dissatisfied if, say, they have a negative experience with customer support.
In order for a company to be successful, leadership must work on the totality of the customer experience rather than focus on individual elements.
Customer experience vs. customer service: What’s the difference?
Customer experience differs from customer service in that the former covers a much broader part of a company’s interaction with the customer, whereas customer service only deals with one aspect of it — the human-to-human interaction between the customer and customer service professionals.
Customer service is an important part of the customer experience, but it is only one element, and you need all elements working together to create a satisfying customer experience.
3 benefits of delivering a great customer experience
Improving your customer’s experience will provide many benefits to your company, but three benefits in particular will have a significant impact.
1. More sales
The first benefit is obvious: Create a great customer experience, and your customers will reward you by buying more products and referring you to their friends and family. A great customer experience results in good word of mouth, which is one of the most powerful marketing forces — and arguably the hardest to master.
2. Lower marketing costs
When customers love you, they do a lot of your marketing work for you. Some companies rely entirely on word of mouth for sales, and that saves a lot of money in the marketing budget. If you’re in search for affordable marketing services, sites like https://www.landscapemarketingpros.co/services are definitely worth a visit.
You won’t have to blanket media with expensive advertising campaigns if customers are flocking to you because of the great experience you offer.
3. A loyal customer base
Companies with a loyal customer base have a more stable income stream and aren’t as beholden to the roller coaster of the market, fluctuating ad rates, and other outside forces that impact your bottom line.
A company with a great customer experience has a steady, reliable business model that can weather just about any storm thanks to customers that have their backs.
Strategies to improve the customer experience
But how do you go about improving the customer experience? It’s not just about working on your team’s customer service skills — it’s an involved process, and one that takes time if you do it right. However, the results are well worth it. Implement these strategies to maximize your results, get the best results by working with a professional user research company.
1. Create customer profiles
You can’t create a good customer experience unless you know your customers’ needs. And the best way to understand your customers is to meet with your team and brainstorm some customer profiles.
A customer profile is essentially how you would describe a certain type of customer. Draw up a description of the customer, describing qualities such as typical age, job title, income, interests, and anything else you find relevant.
Give the customer profile a name, like “Joe” or “Maria.” That way, you can easily refer to the customer type in meetings by simply mentioning their name. Your customer experience strategy should include at least two or three customer profiles.
Tip: Keep your customer profiles narrowly focused. Customer profiles that are too broad have little value and won’t allow you to create the tailored experience your customers crave. And if that means you have to create a dozen customer profiles, maybe your business has too broad of a focus overall.
2. Draw up a customer journey
Ask yourself, “If I were this customer, what would my ideal customer experience be like from start to finish?” Then draw up this journey for each of your customer profiles. Outline each step in the customer journey, from encountering an ad to purchasing to enjoying the product. Describe how each step ideally plays out.
How you visualize this customer journey is up to you. It could be a spreadsheet that describes what the customer is thinking and what action they might take — and how you want to change it — or it could be a flowchart of some sort.
Tip: Crowdsource the customer journey with your staff. Get all stakeholders to weigh in. They may notice things you do not, such as a desired customer interaction with the sales team you weren’t aware of.
3. Reward loyalty
A loyalty or rewards program may seem expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than a marketing program to find new leads and convert them into paying customers. And it doesn’t always have to be a discount — you can reward customers in other ways, like offering extra features or exclusives.
It all comes down to understanding your customer and what they value — this is where your customer profiles come in handy. What kind of extra value could you offer to your customers that they would appreciate? If you know the answer, you’ll keep your customers coming back.
Tip: Narrowly tailor your rewards program to your best customers rather than showering your entire customer base with goodies. The point is to encourage loyalty rather than try to bribe everyone.
Here’s an exercise for you:
- Write ‘let’s try NOT to be like <insert your category here>’ on the biggest whiteboard in your office where everyone in your organization can see it.
- Next, let everyone know that you have a mission today to shake things up, tell them about how the message on the whiteboard will help you do that.
- Next, invite your peers to contribute ideas on all the possible ways you can be the opposite of your category. Some people will laugh, others may already have some ideas hidden somewhere in their brains. You can collect these ideas by email, on an internal wiki, internal blog or pieces of papers. What matters is that you do it.
- Once done, collect all these ideas and have a few people help you cluster them around ‘themes’ and put them where everyone can see.
- Next, it’s show time! Via votes (number of ‘likes’) decide which ideas are ‘meaningful’ and ‘doable’. It’s important that you get the list down to only a few things that really ‘make a difference’, this will be tricky but very important.
- Next, it’s time to action plan your ideas.
I know this is a fairly simplistic list, the intent is not to make it an activity so complex that people will lose interest. Remember, you’re asking people to get uncomfortable!