best customer experience

Is the best customer experience always the right customer experience?

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When you think of the best customer experience you’ve ever had, what do you think about? It might surprise you to discover that perhaps it’s not necessarily what you believed it to be.

Recently my local independent grocery store has gone all fancy, and I’m not happy. Don’t get me wrong – it looks beautiful after the renovation.

The scuffed linoleum floors are now gleaming polished concrete. The check-out counters are topped with marble. Natural light streams in from floor-to-ceiling windows. I can now shop with a cappuccino held securely in a specially-designed cart. And the place is three times bigger than before.

All of this should mean a better customer experience…but instead it’s the reason why I’m now shopping elsewhere, as are a number of my friends and neighbours.

Why? Let me explain.

When planning for the best customer experience, don’t forget the customer

Pre-renovation, I could whip through and tick everything off my weekly shopping list in fifteen minutes flat. For me, the value in the experience was all about convenience and good quality for reasonable (not necessarily the cheapest) prices.

Post-renovation, the trip takes nearly twice as long. There isn’t a broader selection, just more of the same items filling the longer shelves, spread further apart. The new marble check-outs don’t operate as efficiently as the old conveyor belt ones. And prices have gone up noticeably, I presume to help pay for renovation costs.

The value is gone for me, and the experience diminished – and probably likewise for many other long-time customers, given that I saw fewer people there each time I stopped in. I’m sure eventually the store will attract new shoppers who do value luxury in their grocery shopping experiences, but I hope the owners were prepared to lose long-time customers like me.

While working in marketing and customer experience, I’ve seen versions of this scenario on many occasions: brands making what they think are enhancements to customer experience, only to find out customers don’t see the changes as enhancements at all. And that’s assuming they even notice the changes.

The reason? The experience isn’t aligned with the brand promise and customer expectations. Customers don’t always want luxurious experiences, high quality products, or high-touch service if it means they’re sacrificing what they do value, such as convenience and cost.

It’s the reason online retail and banking proliferates, Qantas and Singapore Air, have separate low-cost carriers in Jetstar and Scoot, and the reason Aldi stocks goods on the shelf in their shipping boxes.

Sometimes the biggest luxury is convenience

If a brand’s value proposition isn’t about 5-star experiences and high-end luxury, then the ROI on funds spent trying to offer the best customer experience is unlikely to be high. It’s much more important to simply meet your customers’ expectations in the moments that matter in their customer journeys than to try to exceed expectations in areas they don’t care about.

If Aldi were suddenly to display lovely shelf arrangements in the name of improving the CX, if their prices stay the same, would their customers care, or even take much notice? A brand needs to stay true to its value propositions and focus on enhancements that provide the “right” experience, not the “best” experience, based on what customers value most in their interactions with the brand.

This requires listening to customers to understand not just what they’re doing, but what they’re feeling.

What really motivated your customer at what point to choose your brand, select that particular product, decide to shop in your store versus on your website, or give that rating on your call centre service? At what point in the interaction did a pain point surface, or did they feel a process that wasn’t as effortless as they thought it should be, and what impact did that have on their actions?

Only by understanding what your customers truly prioritize in the experiences they have with your brand can you then prioritize what CX enhancements will return the biggest bang for your buck, and what to do to keep customers loyal.

If I wanted marble counters and a cappuccino when I grocery shopped, and was willing to pay the price for luxury, I would have been shopping at the David Jones Food Hall all along. But this Sunday you’ll see me in Aldi.

Understanding what your customers are feeling can help you provide the best CX around.
Experience management is here

Jennifer Arnold
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Jennifer Arnold

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