Investing In Your Customer’s Journey for Long Term Success

Originally posted in the Act! Journal

By: Ed Sibuma

Consumers have more choices than ever in terms of competing products and services.  Comparing competing companies’ offerings is simplified with immediate access to product and service feature sets on company websites.  The revelation: given a specific price point, product and service features are similar across competitors.  Feature sets are no longer differentiators between competitors, but requirements just to compete!  This begs the question:  if competing products and services are ultimately the same, how does a business compete?

The answer:  the Customer Experience or CX.

The term has been thrown around for years now and has become a vital piece in the success of the modern business.  The Business Dictionary defines it as: the entirety of the interactions a customer has with a company and its products.  Ultimately, it’s the journey of a consumer through a company’s customer ecosystem.

Understanding the customer journey is the first step in maintaining a healthy customer ecosystem.  A deep understanding of the journey combined with data will help to improve the health of the ecosystem and drive better decision making.  The idea here is to help the customer along the way to being an advocate.

CX_Journey.png

 

Here’s an example:  I recently moved to the Phoenix area from Atlanta with my family.  We needed to find replacements for a number of local businesses in various industries including a new, regular Chinese restaurant.

My wife and I immediately went online and took inventory of what was close by and what the reviews were saying.  Anyone who did not have a website or showed up on any of the review sites we checked were immediately eliminated from the competition: we were not aware they even existed.  However, we discovered a number of restaurants that were close by.  As part of our evaluation, we passed on restaurants that didn’t have enough reviews, ones that had a number of negative statements from customers and low scores, and others who did not have their menu posted online.  After these stages, the competition went from about twenty-five restaurants to three.

Our first choice received rave reviews online: great food, great service, prices were slightly higher than others but we were ok with that.  Now it may have been a bad day when we made our purchase, but the food was not up to our standards and when I went to pick it up, I felt like I was bothering them.  We used their product and services and decided to terminate.

The next place we tried also had great reviews, but we decided to go with delivery this time.  The food was great, but I was told 25 minutes for delivery and it ended up being close to an hour.  We also asked them to knock on the door instead of ringing the doorbell because our 2-year old was already sleeping.  Of course, they rang the doorbell…enough said.

The last place we tried again had great reviews and we finally got the experience we were looking for:  happy to answer the phone, fresh ingredients and great food, a smile when I picked up our food even though the place was busy.  We haven’t tried a different Chinese restaurant since, ordered with them when friends visit, and posted our experience with them on Yelp (advocate).

My family’s journey is not unique.  These types of journeys happen every day.

Here are 3 key concepts every business owner needs to understand:

  1. Customers have access to information like never before.
  2. Businesses can no longer just compete on features alone.
  3. Businesses that invest in understanding their customers’ journeys and nurturing a healthy customer ecosystem will increase their chances of long term success.

Here’s the kicker, number four if you will:  competition in the realm of Customer Experience goes beyond the borders typically set by industries.  Businesses of all sizes, in all industries, are competing with Zappos, Amazon, In-and-Out Burger, any number of companies that have set new standards in customer satisfaction which customers will use as a comparison.

Our community is made up of thousands of businesses in each industry all across the globe.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Customer Experience.  What are some things you’re doing to nurture a healthy customer ecosystem and create amazing Customer Experiences?

 

Like to get more information on the Customer Experience?  Forrester’s has a great blog series devoted to the Customer Experience.  I’ve also found Jeanne Bliss’s site to be extremely helpful and inspirational.

About Mallory Bowers

Mallory joined the Swiftpage team in July 2012 as the Billing Specialist in the Finance Department. Recently, she became a member of the Marketing team. When Mallory is not in the office, you can find her exploring downtown Denver or at any local sporting event. You can reach Mallory at mbowers@swiftpage.com

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