Customer Experience is the new buzz word for entrepreneurs today in most industries around the globe – A new cause for businesses to work towards. After all, isn’t it worth spending most of our work time everyday thinking about the patronage of the one person – the Customer also known as King / God on account of the money he gives us to survive and progress in our business & individual capacity?
In today’s competitive market every brand in business is trying to oust other brands by first identifying customer needs and then screaming out about how they understand the customer better. Businesses take a variety of initiatives to enhance customer experience with the intention of acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Which of these actually contribute towards a genuine customer experience is something every brand manager, business head or owner needs to ask themselves.
Is it food, service and ambience only? Is there something more, like value propositions for instance?
Listening to your customer constantly and tweaking your brand offer accordingly is the best way to build a business that is aligned to the market. The way to collect such data is naturally through your people who are in direct contact with the end user of your product / service – employees who are your eyes and ears on the field. Should your employees revert with either direct feedback from the customer or their own insight into customer needs that when incorporated will strengthen your biz model, they must be rewarded aptly. When employees in an organisation are delivering rehearsed lines to a customer they are delivering a superficial customer experience. When they are empowered to delight the customer with spontaneous acts of kindness they are more likely to deliver excellence in customer service. Your business was born out of customer needs, but survives & grows depending on the degree customer needs are satisfied, and dies if they are not. So they are not an interruption to your work but the reason you have work.
Meaningful Customer Experiences are...
Let’s go back to basics for a moment...
Before hospitality as we know today was rolled out as a commercial industry, it was first something in the private domain – the welcome and warmth extended to a guest that visited us at home. Try and recall some of the most memorable meals or house guest experiences you’ve had either at your own home or someone else’s.
A few things are definite:
Replicating a genuine home hospitality experience in a commercial setting is obviously not easy. But, if genuineness of experience is what we endeavour to achieve in our offer, then from the above scenarios, it is obvious that it is the people element that is crucial to realising a positively memorable experience. While people certainly include our guests that directly contribute to the ambience, it is in fact our employees who serve the customers that are key to delivering our brand promise.
Rather than simply expect our employees to love our customers given the motivation that no customers = no salary, we must consider the fact that an employee in our industry spends more time at his workplace than at his home. Surely we can spend a reasonable amount of time and money on our employees.
If you ignore the need to look after your employees, you will slowly have a team of passively loyal employees. This means people who continue coming to work everyday while being too lazy to be productive or lacking the confidence to move to other jobs. This group of people is the most dangerous to the organisation. They require a special focus as they perpetuate destructivity by inevitably influencing the rest of team.
Remember that genuine customer experience is not only the responsibility of the brand manager or the business head. Every single person associated with the brand – employees, customers and even vendors are a part of the experience. There is no shortcut to building strong relationships and earning their trust. Genuine caring about the needs of each of these people groups and then developing a model that allows synergic interaction between each group is the best... possibly the only way forward to delivering genuine customer experience.