Ask yourself, “What do you sell?” For many businesses, this seemingly straightforward question leads to their people listing the products and services the organization offers. The reality however, is that your customers can get similar products or services from any number of other suppliers. When we reduce what we sell to merely being products or services, we reduce ourselves to being little more than a commodity. There is little to set us apart from our competitors. And when this happens, we compete largely based on price.
Competing on price is a losing proposition. There will always be a competitor who will supply a similar product or service for less; perhaps they’re willing to accept a reduced margin or they want to gain market share, but there will always be someone willing to do it for less.
Warren Buffet once said, the one thing every great organization does is they build a moat around themselves. They create a barrier that protects them from their competitors by differentiating themselves from their competitors. The most effective way to accomplish this is to understand what your customers are really buying from you and ensure your organization provides it every time, without fail. It becomes your brand promise. For this to happen, organizations need to install methods that set employees up for success by delivering a flawless performance. Your customers should be able to depend on you to do what you say you will do.
The most effect effective way to achieve this is to create a customer journey map. Identify all of the customer touch-points, viewing the process of doing business with you through the lens of a customer. At each customer touch-point, map it from two perspectives:
what is it like to do business with you today
what would you like it to be like
The intent is to better understanding how easy you are to do business with and identify opportunities to close the gap between the two perspectives; ultimately delivering an improved customer experience that generates customer loyalty and ambassadors for your business.
I know what you’re thinking, my business is different. This doesn’t apply to me. Well, you’re not alone. According to a Bain and Company study, across a variety of industries, 80% of the businesses leaders surveyed believed they offered an exceptional customer experience. The irony was that when their customers were surveyed, only 8% agreed. When you also consider the findings from a recent study by Nuance Communications, 87% of consumers reported a company’s customer service had a significant impact on their decision to do business with them, and that almost 70% of customers have cancelled or ended a relationship with a company because of a bad customer experience, the business case to create more customer loyalty through an improved customer experience is compelling.
There is ample evidence showing us that loyal customers tend to:
Buy a wider variety of our products/services
Are less price sensitive
Are more likely to provide feedback
Will recommend us to their friends, colleagues and family members
Good intentions alone do not constitute a plan of action. Sustainable improvement in the employee - customer interaction requires disciplined local action coupled with a company-wide commitment to changing how employees are recruited, rewarded and recognized, managed, and positioned in roles.
The business case is clear. What you really have to ask yourself is, “what am I going to do about it?”