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Moments of Truth
Takeaway notes from a DMNews webinar. By Aliza Bornstein, copywriter, Melissa Data

The customer experience has always been important for businesses. But, three main things have really changed over the past few years that make customer experience even more critical to success. First and foremost, customers have a great deal more control, and they have very high expectations. They are in the driver’s seat and they are taking control over how, and when, they interact with you.

There are plenty of channels that we, as marketers, have made available to them, and they are certainly leveraging them. Customers decide how they want to get information, how they want to purchase, and how they want to be dealt with after the purchase is made.

The second thing that has changed is that customers have a clear expectation of value in the interaction front. Not just value in the goods or products that they buy from you, but value in the interactions they have with you, the marketer. Organizations don’t always provide clear benefits to their customers, but customers want to know what’s in it for them

Finally, we have to recognize customer experience has a lot of emotion attached to it. Customers now have the ability to project their emotions far beyond their individual experience. They can communicate with their peers and they can really impact your business positively or negatively with their communication. 

How often have you seen a negative review or comment online and decided not to proceed with your online experience? That’s a fairly dramatic change over the last few years, and is one of the main reasons customer experience has become very important.

Roughly half of all companies do not have a clear customer experience strategy. Nor do they have policies they can execute on the strategy they do have. One of the big issues marketers face is the lack of cooperation across an organization. This is because most organizations are organized around products or channels, not around customers. Therefore, it’s everyone’s job and nobody’s job to deal with the customer experience—and that can make it very difficult to deal with this issue in the first place.

The first thing marketers need to figure out as an organization is what foundation of the customer experience they want to provide. The foundation of experience has to be very much driven by an overarching strategy. However, understanding and building that foundation is not a one time process. As expectations evolve, the business for how marketers meet expectations changes again.

But above and beyond the foundation, marketers also have to think about what unique value and experience they can provide to different segments of their customers. Not all customers have the same expectation. Marketers have to have different kinds of experiences that they choreograph for different kinds of segments, and each interaction should reinforce the overall vision of the foundation of experience. And marketers have to think: How is the vision conveyed through each interaction? What emotion are we eliciting in each interaction?

The only way to understand the customer perspective is knowing who your customers are, where they are in the customer lifecycle, and how they want to interact with you at different times along the relationship cycle. Many organizations think they have a good perspective on how well they meet the expectations of their customers, but it’s not always the same view that customers have.

The only way to understand and manage this correctly is to get first-hand information directly from the customers. Marketers, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it easy for customers to get the information they need using their channel(s) of choice?
  • What obstacles are customers seeing to converting/purchasing?
  • What emotion is elicited?
  • What causes customers to become advocates?

By losing customers early in the lifecycle, you have less of a chance to actually recover those customers. As a customer invests more time in you, they may be a bit more forgiving, so marketers need to focus on the early stages in the lifecycle. What are the key things that are happening within those interactions? Failing to provide the value in customer experiences, or not meeting the expectation of customers—these are the key issues that become the moments of truth.

---Source: DMNews Apr.14, 2010 (www.dmnews.com). Keynote speaker Naras Eechambadi, Phd, senior VP and general manager of Quaero, a CSG Solution.

Melissa Data


 
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