Last updated: Brands that ignore the customer experience are set up for failure

Brands that ignore the customer experience are set up for failure

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By Dorothy Wozniak
Supply Chain Operations Manager, Grainger

As a working parent to two children, there is never enough time in the day to get everything accomplished.  I can’t imagine having to physically go to my son’s school to get forms when I can just print those out from the schools website, or wait on the phone to find out where his school suppliers are, when I can just check order status and never have to make a phone call.  The end result is that I am a more satisfied customer, not to mention a happier parent.

Companies that are slow to make significant improvements in customer experience leave customers frustrated and ultimately lose sales, and erode brand confidence.  Companies that win dedicate leaders and teams to work cross-functionally, and leverage the right technology so that customers can get the answer on their own

Sounds easy right?  Well, making it easy for customers is not easy. But it is possible.

Start by listening to and knowing your customers. Are you seeing increased calls to check product availability or customer specific price? Are customers asking to return products online versus having to go out of their way to a physical store? Do they want proactive email order status notifications instead of guessing when their product will arrive? Voice of customer information is spread across your organization—put it together in a meaningful way that tells the story.

Align the stars. Package customer facts to gain cross-functional leadership and resources align to the opportunity. Be realistic that not every customer issue gets the necessary attention and resources.

Differentiate through rich content. To tackle online giants such as Amazon, sites will need to provide a differentiated experience vs. just selling product.  Partner with your suppliers to provide rich product content such as 360-degree images, product guides, operating manuals, or parts diagrams.  Suppliers may push back but don’t give up, ask to speak to the right folks—it will be worth it the end when customers return to your site.

Making it easy is about saving customers’ time and money. Anticipate their questions and have the answers easily accessible on your website.  The more transparent you are the better.

Next up for me is planning a birthday party for my son.  Thankfully, it will only take me a few minutes to visit a couple websites and check out packages and available dates. I don’t need to call and wait on the phone, nor do I need to go there in person to book. Thankfully we live in the information era which means the bar has been raised—for everyone.

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