Why is the customer experience important?

Part Four – The Customer Experience

  • Why is the customer experience important? 

In my opinion the best way to answer this question is by breaking this question down in two ways:

  1. Why is the customer experience important to CUSTOMERS
  2. Why is the customer experience important to ORGANISATIONS

Continuing the trend of the previous blog posts it is important to firstly consider the perspective of the customer. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer is an important skill, and possible determinant of success, for an organisation in regards to the experience of the customer. The customer’s experience can be influenced by anything that occurs during the customer/organisation relationship which is important to recognise. Consider a simple example of a customer’s experience which highlights the complexities and broad nature of the customer experience: buying a cup of coffee.  Outside the quality of the product itself there are many questions that a customer could be asking:

  • Did it take long for me to be served?
  • Was I greeted in a friendly manner?
  • Did they remember my name?
  • Did they remember my order from the last time?

Carrying on from last month’s post on the importance of people to good customer service, the importance of people in providing a positive customer experience is highlighted by the questions above. These simple questions also highlight the importance of an organisation taking a customer’s perspective to answer these questions and strategise the customer experience. In my opinion the best STRATEGY for an organisation is being CONSISTENT in the approach to a customer experience and the best way consistency can be maintained is through a PROCESS. I reiterate from the previous posts: “the beauty of a process is that it can be replicated” (Bob Miller).

From the perspective of the organisation it is essential to view the customer experience as an opportunity to provide a memorable customer experience and therefore contribute to good overall customer service and thus value. To comprehend the customer’s experience similar questions to the ones asked above can assist organisations in achieving the attention to detail required when considering adding value through experience. The most common method marketers can use to improve the customer experience is through recognising the numerous touch points a customer will have with an organisation during such a relationship and offering value at these individual points. Once again this emphasises a point I have previously raised, and will continue to raise during the tenure of this blog series – customer service was NOT a job function, or unique to any particular organisation and thus providing good customer service is reliant on everyone involved in a customer experience from the Receptionist to the Personal Assistant to the Executive to the Finance Department. Everyone. Thus a touch point may be anything from an Accounts Payable staff member contacting your organisation’s Finance Manager by phone to a client greeting the receptionist as they walk through the front door.

The final point I would like to convey is the importance of measuring the success of positive customer experiences: “If you can’t measure you can’t manage and if you can’t manage it’s an accident” (Bob Miller). There are numerous ways success can be measured in regards to the customer experience including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The management of the success (or lack of) requires the information to be tracked over time. One medium this can be achieved is through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which is covered in more depth in Part Nine.

In summarising, the customer experience is important to customers and to organisations because a positive customer experiences create value and similarly negative experiences create a loss in value. In the next post I will explain customer delight which is correlated to value and correlated to a positive customer experience.

  • Where are we at?
  • Part One – Customer Service
  • Part Two – Customer Value
  • Part Three – People
  • Part Four – The Customer Experience
  • Part Five – Customer Delight
  • Part Six – Customer Feedback
  • Part Seven – Customer Complaints
  • Part Eight – Customer Complements
  • Part Nine – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Part Ten – CRM Benefits
  • Part Eleven – CRM Challenges
  • Part Twelve – Customer Management: A Review

Until next time,

Glen

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What role can people play in providing good customer service?

Part Three – People

  • What role can people play in providing good customer service?

Put simply: a significant one. However I would like to stress the importance of not taking this question, and answer, lightly. In my opinion customer service begins with value, which was addressed in the previous post. But value does not exist without people to offer and accept value and thus people are the lifeblood of customer service, they always have been and they always will be. The quote I introduced in the first post illustrates this well, and is worth revisiting:

‘Customer service is about creating value through people for customers via a positive experience that leads to delight’.

For the purpose of this blog, ‘people’ refers to persons internal and external to the organisation in a customer service exchange. The other point I raised in the first post was that customer service was NOT a job function, or unique to any particular organisation and thus providing good customer service is reliant on everyone involved in a customer experience from the Receptionist to the Personal Assistant to the Executive to the Finance Department. Everyone.

The sooner organisations can understand this, the sooner they can strategise ways to offer a better customer service, by ultimately thinking from the perspective of the customer and of every employee involved.  The question could be one as simple as: how can our people make life easier for the customer? The answer and ultimately the action taken will depend on the organisation and the current strategy on providing customer service. For organisations where a strategy is absent, a simple approach should be taken and may include customer service training and internal meetings to discuss ways to improve customer service. For organisations more attuned to focussing on customer service, a more ‘out of the box’ approach may be required or the use of Customer consultants.

Irrespective of the organisation’s history, the point to note is customer service begins internal to the organisation.  This places significant pressure on Managers to get it right. Treat your employees in the manner you would treat your customers. “Reward the achiever and over-reward the over-achiever” (Bob Miller).  Furthermore if your organisation is customer-oriented then your organisation has to be people-oriented and the business plan and more importantly workplace culture, has to reflect this. How can this be done? By adopting a PROCESS. This is because “the beauty of a process is that it can be replicated” (Bob Miller). Adopting a process ensures that people are consistent, know what is expected and can replicate success.

The importance of distinguishing ‘people’ and ‘customers’ is important to consider. Why? Because ‘customers’ can refer to an idea that people behave in a predictable way. They don’t. People are not customers but customers are people. Some points that illustrate this:

  • Satisfied customers are not always loyal and can leave.
  • Dissatisfied customers do not always leave (the cost of leaving may be too high).
  • Only a small proportion of customers (satisfied and dissatisfied) offer feedback.

The message I am trying to convey is that good customer service is reliant on understanding that you are dealing with human beings and to take every opportunity to think of the exchange from the customer’s perspective. The answer to good customer service is not always in a textbook.

In summary: The beauty of customer service is that it involves working with people.  People form the foundation of customer service and thus effective customer service involves working effectively with people beginning with those internal to the organisation. Simply put: customer service starts, continues and ends with people, so what role are those people playing? Hopefully the answer is: a positive one.

  • Where are we at?

Part One – Customer Service
Part Two – Customer Value
Part Three – People
Part Four – The Customer Experience
Part Five – Customer Delight
Part Six – Customer Feedback
Part Seven – Customer Complaints
Part Eight – Customer Complements
Part Nine – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Part Ten – CRM Benefits
Part Eleven – CRM Challenges
Part Twelve – Customer Management: A Review

Until next time,

Glen

How much value do customers receive from you?

Part Two – Customer Value

  • How much value do customers receive from you?

That is not a particular easy question to answer because value can be represented in a number of ways, by a number of people via a number of avenues, none of which can be deemed as correct or incorrect. As well value is relative to the customer which makes measuring value difficult. The purpose of asking this question is exact as the purpose I have with this blog post: to generate thought about customer value more from a position of a customer who it is destined for than the business where its origins lie.

Before we put customers first, one requirement has to be fulfilled: that a customer offers value to an organisation. The rationale is quite simple: the goal of any organisation is to generate profit for shareholders; therefore it is important to establish that customers are profitable to an organisation as a prerequisite for an organisation offering value to customers. If a customer doesn’t offer an organisation value, the organisation should say ‘no’ and focus on the customers that do. By doing this an organisation can concentrate their efforts on retaining customers with a high lifetime value that contribute to long-term sustainable cash flow.

Regardless of difficulty, the question of value is an important one to ask, consider and ultimately answer.  So let’s think about customer value and the role it plays in managing customers.  If there was a single goal of customer service, it would be to increase value.  Value is the foundation on which customer management can be built (and broken!) and thus must be treated in high regard. But what is ‘value’?  I would define customer value as:

“The difference between the actual and expected performance of a good and/or service that is judged solely by a customer, as offered by an organisation”.

There are two important parts of this quote that I would like to elaborate on:

  1. Value is “judged solely by a customer”

As mentioned, value is relative: what is considered value for one customer may not be for another. Organisations must understand this when devising a clear and consistent customer service strategy and appreciate the individuality of customers.  Therefore customers should not be treated equally but rather be managed in a way that is specific to their needs and wants.

  1. Value is “offered by an organisation”

Value is offered by an organisation to customers because value is perceived, and therefore it is the customer who ultimately decides the level of value of a good and/or service. Thus the notion of value being ‘created’, in my mind, is a myth.  Instead value is ‘offered’.  I credit this notion to a couple of Lecturers I had whilst completing my Marketing degree namely Ross Smith and John Turnbull who were influential in portraying customer management from the customer’s perspective as opposed to that of the organisation, and such that made me look at value quite differently. In my view this is a crucial notion for organisations to grasp.

In summarising customer value is a vital part of managing customers because in my mind this is where successful customer management begins. My point is success can be maximised by putting the customer’s point of view first when considering the value an organisation can ‘offer’. This is not an easy feat and relies significantly on people skills within an organisation.  The next blog post is an opportune time to understand the important role people play in the process of customer management, after all, it is ‘people’ in both parties who will offer and accept value.

  • Where are we at?

Part One – Customer Service
Part Two – Customer Value
Part Three – People
Part Four – The Customer Experience
Part Five – Customer Delight
Part Six – Customer Feedback
Part Seven – Customer Complaints
Part Eight – Customer Complements
Part Nine – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Part Ten – CRM Benefits
Part Eleven – CRM Challenges
Part Twelve – Customer Management: A Review

Until next time,

Glen

What does customer service mean to you?

Part One – Customer Service

The term ‘customer service’ is quite vague when it is thought about properly and often misunderstood to be a junior role in telesales or administration.  This could not be further from the desired position of ‘customer service’ in the minds (and actions!) of employers and employees.  Another common misconception of customer service is that it is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. This is not completely correct, for CRM forms a small part of customer service, not the other way around.  CRM is covered in Part Nine of the Customer Management the glenstubbings way.

By definition customer service is ‘servicing customers’ which should be considered to be a responsibility of all employees in an organisation.  From this point forward I will refer to customer service as this holistic approach to servicing customers by everyone in an organisation.  I cannot stress enough the importance for an organisation (regardless of size) to have a clear, consistent service strategy. There are four areas of customer service that I will elaborate on in the coming posts.  For now though I will present a brief summary so as to demonstrate how I have broken down customer service.  The four areas are:

  1. Value
  2. People
  3. Experience
  4. Delight

The ordering is purposeful and chronological: ‘Customer service is about creating value through people for customers via a positive experience that leads to delight’.

  • Value: If there was a single goal for customer service, it would be to increase value.  Value is the common denominator in effective customer service and like numerous aspects of customer management value can be built (and broken!).  A key point in regards to value is that customer value is a two-way street and in actual fact organisational value is more important than customer value (an interesting notion considering the focus of this blog is on the ‘customer’).  This and other aspects of value are covered in the next post, Part Two – Customer Value.
  • People: The beauty of customer service is that it involves working with people.  People form the foundation of customer service and thus effective customer service involves working effectively with people.  In this circumstance ‘people’ refers to those internal and external to the organisation and is covered in depth in Part Three – People.
  • Experience: One way in which value is generated and a crucial aspect of customer service is creating a positive experience for customers. The important thing to note is that an experience is built and encompasses all aspects of a customer/organisation relationship which demonstrates the necessity for a clear and consistent strategy by everyone in the organisation. Customer experiences are covered in Part Four – The Customer Experience.
  • Delight: Value does not always, but can, lead to delighted customers.  This is probably the one aspect of customer service I feel is neglected the most and in Part Five – Customer Delight I will explain why this is so.  I like to think of delight as the result of effectively managed value offerings.  Delight is what all organisations should strive to achieve because, similar to other aspects of customer service, delight can generate value in the same way value can generate delight.  The key point: delight can be achieved through numerous avenues – there is no one road to delight!

To conclude this session and demonstrate further the meaning of customer service I have generated the following: ‘Customer service is neither a job nor function; it is the act of caring about someone else’.

  •  Where are we at?

Part One – Customer Service
Part Two – Customer Value
Part Three – People
Part Four – The Customer Experience
Part Five – Customer Delight
Part Six – Customer Feedback
Part Seven – Customer Complaints
Part Eight – Customer Complements
Part Nine – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Part Ten – CRM Benefits
Part Eleven – CRM Challenges
Part Twelve – Customer Management: A Review

Until next time,

Glen

A meet and greet!

Welcome to glenstubbings: Customer Management the glenstubbings way!

  • Name: Glen Stubbings
  • Location: Sydney, NSW Australia
  • Passions: Marketing; Customers; Fitness; Sport; People

I am inspired me to share my thoughts on customer management through my first ever blog: glenstubbings: Customer Management the glenstubbings way! I am excited at the prospect of detailing my thoughts on the ‘customer’ in a clear, concise and interesting way which combines my academic knowledge with my experiences and understanding.

  • Frequency: Monthly
  • Content:

Part One – Customer Service
Part Two – Customer Value
Part Three – People
Part Four – The Customer Experience
Part Five – Customer Delight
Part Six – Customer Feedback
Part Seven – Customer Complaints
Part Eight – Customer Complements
Part Nine – Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Part Ten – CRM Benefits
Part Eleven – CRM Challenges
Part Twelve – Customer Management: A Review

I look forward to sharing my thoughts and welcome any discussion! I hope you enjoy!

Glen Stubbings - Marketing, Fitness, Customer Service