I know it, you know it and we all know it: we have had our eyes and ears full of: “ We have to create great customer experience to our customers, do something!” Outstanding customer experience is the hot issue right now. There are hundreds of books, courses, webinars etc. about how to create a great customer experience. So you would guess that every company has it already. But they do not. Why it is so difficult to create an outstanding customer experience that makes your company stand out from the rest of the bunch?
Well, to start with, customer experience is not a new thing. There have always been great and poor customer experiences. A determined design process for creating a customer experience is newer topic and that is where the challenges start. Customer experience is not like an advertisement campaign that you design, launch and expect to work at once. No, customer experience can be designed only if there is something to build on in the company.
Here are some reasons why designing customer experience does fail, based on my experiences:
If the company has no clear purpose about how it is going to create value to the customer, there is no foundation for good customer experience. The purpose has to base on the value for the customer. The great customer experience happens, when customer understands what is the value she/he receives from the company.
If the company does not know the everyday life of the customer, there is no hope for great customer experience. When the company is on the same level and understands customer’s everyday challenges, it is credible and can walk the walk.
Experience is created in co-operation with the customer. When customer is part of the process, she/he is a partner not a target.
Company has to be extremely transparent. In current society, where all cover-ups are exposed rather sooner than later, the company has to be transparent to be a reliable partner.
The people create the customer experience. Even in fully digital environment the people behind participate to creation of the customer experience. If the company is lazy in communicating the customer experience process to its own personnel, the experience is a failure.
Creating customer experience is an investment. If there are no resources, you cannot expect change in your current customer experience. The investment often means more dedicated people, but it can also require new devices and tools for the personnel. It surely needs lots of training and coaching. No resources means no change.
No link to reality
It is easy to make fancy PowerPoint presentations of the objectives for improved customer experience. It is difficult to make them happen. Creating an improved customer experience is long process – it is achieved only step by step. So one has to remember reality.
Expecting too much too soon
Change takes time. Change in people’s behaviour takes more time. The Asian companies know this – many of them have planning periods for tens of years. In our stock market controlled business culture the normal timetable for change is 3 months. And we expect the change to happen right away, well in will not.
No changes in organization
Designing customer experience requires often changes in organization and other company infra. If we want really to improve something, we have to change to organization too. If customer experience is the key to success – as it often is – why we try to do it with unsuitable organization?
No changes in reward system
Quite often company’s reward system is based on some easily measurable figure like sales, profitability, employee satisfaction etc. We may even have figure for customer satisfaction. But we do not have figure for customer experience, or do we? If we want to change or improve something, we have to also reward for the results.
Regardless on the list above and maybe even somewhat pessimistic view, I strongly believe that outstanding customer experience is the key for success in retail and other service business. Creating one is not easy, but possible, there are so many examples all around the world.