How to engineer a great customer experience


Everybodys talking about customer experience these days, but how many companies actually follow through to ensure that their customers are getting the best experience possible? And how are they doing that?

Everybodys heard the mantra, Youve got to think like the customer, but unless you embed that into your company culture, and unless everybody from the top down has it embroidered on his/her brain, its too easy to develop ease of use for me, instead of ease of use for customer when thinking about systems and outcomes. And just thinking like the customer isnt really enough to ensure a great experience. There are many business practices that need to dovetail correctly, as a business grows and develops more layers, this can get harder and harder to maintain.

However, I recently saw an article in Control Engineering that discussed a simple formula developed by Dennis Snow, a former Disney executive who now consults with organizations about designing great customer experiences. In the article, Snow talked about the top three things companies must do to ensure exemplary customer service:

  1. Look at everything through the customers lens
  2. Examine details
  3. Impress your customers

But what really struck me was the idea expressed in No.3, impressing the customer. There he talked about creating a customer expectation triangle as a benchmark for your efforts, as illustrated in the pyramid below.

customer experience graphic

In this diagram, the two lowest levels, Accuracy and Availability are expected by your consumer, right? You must get them right every time. Delivering what you say youre going to deliver and being accessible when your customers need you are critical.

However, the top two are opportunities to really wow your customers: teaching them something they didnt know (advice), and making them feel that you are partnering in their success. These are markers of great customer service that will keep people coming back to youbut you need to build them on top of delivering the expected criteria. Think back to your own best experiences as a customer. Chances are that all four of these were consistently done well.

Enlist Employees to Help Design Your Success

What struck me about this formula is that its employee driven. Each of these four levels of service fail if your employees are not empowered to deliver them, which is why its imperative to involve employees in all aspects of designing customer experience. It cant just be dictated to themthey have to feel invested in the outcome and excited about their part in it.

What if every employee in your company was taught to think in these terms with the goal of achieving all four levels in every interaction? What if they were empowered to come up with their own ideas on how these levels of service could be implemented? What if you could measure achievement of these goals at every level in your company, and put a system in place to reward those achievements? I think youd be on fire!

Engineering customer experience means engineering your company, your systems and your culture so your employees can deliver that experienceand keep delivering it. Is it easy to do? No. But if you want to be more than just another competitor in your niche and develop relationships with your customers that result in loyalty and advocacy, its absolutely necessary.

Designing great customer experiences might not be easy, but its amazing what can be accomplished in the right environment. Some of the greatest achievements of this age began with a simple, clear vision that grew. As Walt Disney once said,If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse.

Ted Rubin
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  • Hi Ted, thanks for a great article! At the end of the day, it all really come down to listening and understanding what the customers really need. We also like how you break the major WOW-opportunities for a great customer experience down to: 1) teach them something they didn’t know and 2) be a partner in their success. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, as a complement to this article, we recommend reading: (Tips to Make Your Customers Feel Unique).

  • Good article buddy. Every company should shop itself regularly. Go through the experiences that the consumers have, return items, call customer service, go deep into web and social content. I think many would be surprised at some of the simple breakdowns of the experience in some basic places.

  • Nikhil

    Article clearly explains the customer experience . A satisfied customer can bring in more customers. Service rendered to the customers must be satisfactory.

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February 9, 2016
Ted Rubin

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