Wednesday, July 31, 2013

By Design or by Default, Everything is an EXPERIENCE

Everything that happens to customer when they are dealing with any of the touch points of your business its an experience. 

Challenge is to make these experiences memorable and delightful without losing sight of the CORE value proposition. 

Starbucks offer scintillating customer experience but not at the cost of taste of the coffee. However only coffee taste can not create delight and memorability of customer experience. 

Therefore it is the responsibility as well as need of every enterprise to add more delight to the touch points. Customer is going to experience every bit of experience , now if you make it designers its becomes WOW!!! and adds to your competitive advantage or else it will remain one of the many such experiences enterprises offer.  

- Soothing music in the dentist's room can help patient in forgetting her pain

- Serving beverages to visitor's guests in hospital can add huge richness in experience

- Child Specialist Pediatrician set up small kids zone in her dispensary will make         
  it memorable for child patient for life

- Gynecologist offers Parenting Seminar coupon to would be parents can do wonders in 
  customer experience

- One of the CAs was offering car washing services for the clients visiting him

Every small and large businesses and professional firms can think of better and superior ways to add  that EXTRA bit to make the interaction and experience truly memorable.  

By default or by design CUSTOMERs are experiencing. Left to chance it can be miserable and when designed purposefully it can become delightful. Choice is yours. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why even SMALL businesses MUST Embrace Customer Experience ?

When we audit customer experience we can fairly make out what will be the operative financial performance of the entity (non operative issues like high debt & mindless advertising  may still work adversely in spite of great customer experience recent example is Kingfisher Airlines) .  

Yes operative financial performance is directly linked to what your customers feel about your customer experience creation capability. 

Companies may go out of the way & spend more to offer superior customer experience but that will not impact operative performance adversely as it will result in word of mouth publicity , more referral business and customer loyalty. 

Manufacturing companies spent millions for efficiency and lean manufacturing but it wont give them competitive advantage unless they are offering superior customer experience. Lean & Six Sigma  projects surround their efforts around what customer wants. Speed delivery via lean approach or defect free products via six sigma approach all are adding to customer experience. Any projects not keeping customer at the center wont yield desired financial performance as things not touching customers wont make them loyal and it even wont give competitive advantage to businesses.  

Focus on customer experience when designing lean , six sigma  and even your next Ad campaign. Financial (operative) results are linked directly to customer experience creation capability of the organisation. 

Smaller businesses struggle for customer as well as profit. Focusing on bettering customer experience , small business entrepreneurs can gain both - profit and customers.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Experienced can offer the Experience

One of the ways to create culture of superior customer experience is to let your employees experience superior customer experience themselves. You have to change the mindset and self experience is the best teacher. 

When you receive superior service you will be inclined to offer one in your role to your customers. No amount of training can teach and change the mindset what true real life experience can do to a person. 

When you receive respect you would like to give one. What you receive is what you can give. Therefore in order the change the employee mindset which is the biggest challenge, expose them to superior customer experiences.  

Unfortunately most companies neither offer superior employee experience to their employees nor expose them to superior customer experience elsewhere and yet expect employee to offer superior customer experience to their customers !!

Experience is the best teacher & that applies here to. Expose your employees to superior customer experience in some other industry /companies , make them delightful customer experienced to enable them to offer better experience to your customers.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Incomplete Business Plans & Executions

Yes, How many business plans are discussing about the kind of experience they wish to create for their customers ?  

Business plans contain information on whole world of product differentiation and sales strategy ,  financial ratios and revenue models , market segmentation and team but I have not any seen business plan explaining in details about customer experience and kind of culture team wants to built. 

I read a comment in response to my earlier blog post , " don't spoil customers by offering finest experience. " But I would say some companies are spoiling their talent in order to retain them.  Once habituated to vibrant culture and decent pay , employees find themselves misfit and uncomfortable with other not so great culture. This is the way to retain them from moving away. 

Likewise spoil your customers to retain them. Give them unprecedented and unmatched experience and you get their lifetime loyalty. This requires thinking and creation of culture. This is a huge competitive advantage and MUST find its way into the business plans. 

Design and define customer experience in your business plan and that will set the ball rolling for the culture it will entail. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

KISS is really powerful !!

Simplicity & Ease will push your business. One of the important things in designing customer experience is EASE. Ease of doing business can do wonders. 

Flipkart has achieved that EASE, ATM machines offer EASE. The other day we were at Cream Center and guests waiting management was flawless. It was in order and quick communication was flowing from the people inside about tables available to the person managing waiting guests. 

In many of the on/offline businesses customers have no clue when and whether things will happen as expected. Communication and business processes are not explicit.  They are confusing. People managing are not adding any human angle and just follow what is told to them.  The entire experience becomes confusing , irritating and mechanical. 

Multiple option at coffee shops , insurance products , mobile plans are highly confusing and lack ease and simplicity.  Product design , buying process , usage, communication & marketing all level deserves simplicity. 

When you are out to create better customer experience keep EASE factor in mind  , as it will add to delight and memorability. Customers have many complexity to attend to in their life, therefore EASE & Simplicity is at premium. 

KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid , is really powerful. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SIGH of an Entrepreneur

You started your enterprise to serve your customers with your skill and passion. However in the process you need to manage people, policies, processes , acquisition, various regulatory compliance and many other things apart from serving customers.  Managing the management of business is Herculean task. It is this task which is the major culprit in diluting and shifting focus from customer experience.

Yesterday I was with one senior doctor managing her own clinic. With deep sigh she uttered " I am tired. Managing patients is fine but its the other things about practice that is too tiring. " I think most entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journey must be going through this SIGH.

It is important for entrepreneur to remain deeply focused on customers and delegate all peripheral activities of " Management " to others. It is the customers and only serving customers is the objective of the business and who are going to pay for the business to survive  All other money are debt and at cost. Customers money is adding to the networth. 

Before you lose sight of customers while managing MANAGEMENT part, its time to wake up and get a grip of what you always wanted to do - SERVING the CUSTOMERS and in the process making them RAVING FANS of your business.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Business Process & Drained Customer Experience

When was the last time your business processes were realigned keeping customer experience in mind ?

Do you know business processes are the major culprit in creating damaging customer experience ? 

When fulfilling a customer need - business processes can play a key role in making it happen with ease , speed and delight. 

Process complexity delays the delivery , irritates the customers , break the relations and customer looks for elsewhere. 

Business process mastery can give you competitive advantage. Flipkart is the shining example of process mastery. Their enviable TAT is the result of process mastery keeping customer at the center of the process design.  Whatever the processes employed customer gets speedy delivery. 

Huge money invested to built brand on media , huge money invested in technology and logistics. However before they built brand through media there was already word of mouth online brand building happening through customers. Media helped them to achieve tipping point but ground work was kept ready through their superior logistics for only one product - Books. 

There are plenty of leakage points in offering superior customer experience but business process is the critical part which makes or breaks the business. Business process re-engineering which keeps customer's need and not company's need at the core archives what the company ultimately wants - superior PROFIT through superior CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.    

" You have got to start with CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE and work backward for technology , process & people"  Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

B2B Customer Experience is CRITICAL

B2B customer experience (CE) is critical as share of the business each customer brings is substantial. Share of each business referral a customer can bring is also substantial. Therefore to survive and to expand - both , CE in B2B business is critical. 

- When was the last time you sought customer feedback (and more acted on the feedback) ?

- Your customers are buying more from you (% of of your turnover and % of their turnover) ?

- Are you aware about the concerns of your customers ( they are facing with your organisation and they are facing as their own business ) ?  

- Have you taken steps to solve their concerns with your organisation ? 

- Have you asked them about their other business issues where you can play a role ?

- Think to delight them , surprise them and make them aware that you care about their business and relationship. Help them in their success. 

Most business assume that they are delivering great customer experience and enjoying great relationship with customers only to realize sooner that customer is lost to someone else. 

Appoint TODAY Customer Delight Officer ( This is not a cost but an investment that can improve financial ROI of your business ). 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What MOVIES teach about Customer Experience ?

How many times all of us have seen the movie we liked ? 

We spend hours at the cost of repetition of watching seen movies (remember time is our most precious resource) . 

We know the story and sequence exactly. Repeat purchase (viewing) is for the fact that we have had a good experience at the first instance & we wish to repeat our experience that we had liked , cherished

However when directors' creativity takeover viewers' expectations we have seen movie from great directors' failing on the box office. 

Likewise if your company is keeping internal system , processes and efficiency at the core, it will end up like a flop movie. 

Some recent experiences when customers are not at the core of business decisions: 

- Hospital wants medicine replenishment from internal medical store by patient's relative every time.  Isn't it the internal process of the Hospital ?  

- Leading credit card company uses 4 pages for bill printing (incl Ads) but not a line on customer care contact details for any billing related issue. Is customer experience/need at the core when designing this bill ? 

- On a website of leading private bank no way to reach them but for only FAQ driven email options & call center numbers which require many punches before we can talk to anyone. No email ID to reach customer care. Shouldn't  they be customer driven rather than process driven only ?  

- One of the large holiday resort companies keep responding mails with standard replies without reading the customer concerns not as automated replies but with personal name as signatory.   

Ask yourself every-time , what will happen to customer experience when any business decisions are taken ? 

Create a lovely shopping experience during shopping process and product usage and you have acquired one of the finest assets any business can have  - loyal and repeat customer.  

How much time , effort and most important thinking is invested in offering scintillating customer experience which they wish to repeat again and again and still again ?