Be effortless, not delightful
Head of Marketing
Last week, when I was at Zuora’s Subscribed event I took an hour to listen to a session on service experience. Obviously as a marketer I understand the value of customer experience; I completely embrace the concept of turning customers into fans; and of course I will open my arms to any idea that will help me increase the lifetime value of the relationship we have with our customers. So, it was with a bit of surprise that I listened while the concept of customer delight was completely downplayed. Apparently customers no longer want to be delighted, they don’t have the time for the added sparkle and fairy dust, they just want you to meet their expectations and then stop.
In fact what customers want is ease. They want a simple interaction with an interface that intuitively knows how to help them. They want the experience to be a human one; that's not saying that it actually has to be person-to-person, an intuitive, friendly and easy to navigate self-help portal is fine but it needs to be a great interactive interface, built to understand their customer journey and get them quickly to their solution.
The thing is that modern businesses are built around this exact concept. Start-ups are being created all around us with the customer relationship firmly at their centre and we with more longstanding traditional businesses (Eclipse is 20 and KCOM is over 100) need to make sure we aren't left behind.
So, what can we do to help ourselves? The first thing for me is to raise the profile of customer experience across the business. Every individual from product development and marketing through to sales and finance needs to have the customer at their heart. How can we make the product easy for them to use? How can we let them know about our product in a way that's unobtrusive? How can we provide them with payment options that work for them? Customer service isn't and shouldn't be just about when things go wrong, it should be the whole experience end-to-end. After all an unhappy customer will amplify his voice far wider than a happy one and that's not going to help us meet our business goals.
Secondly, we need to fit in to our customers’ busy lifestyles (workstyles for B2B companies!) and provide them with ways to interact with us that are convenient to them, be it social media, online chat, phone or email. We need to be proactive in our care for them; letting them know when things have changed, being aware of difficulties they may be experiencing and providing the solution or guidance that will help them gain the most value out of our product or service.
Next we should empower people to do what they need to do to please the customer, but be effortless, not delightful. Don't constrain colleagues but give them a great framework to guide them on how to make customers happy through individual attention and solving their issues. We don't need to make everyone super happy, just meet their expectation then stop. They've paid for a product or service and having it working is enough.
And finally, smile dammit! Be happy to work for your business and pass that happiness on to your customers. The greatest advocate for your business is your people... Use them to bring your brand to life.