Four Characteristics of a Seamless Customer Experience

Everyone’s talking about customer experience, whether they are coming from the view of a customer (since we are all customers of something really) or if they’re coming from a strategic business perspective, wanting to improve customer experience for a competitive advantage.
Don Peppers of the Peppers & Rogers Group wrote about his top 4 characteristics of a seamless customer experience, here’s our take.

We believe that branding is the promise you make; customer experience is the promise you keep. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep promises that’s why it’s important to continually check, is your customer experience seamless? Does your customer experience have these four characteristics?

  1. Reliable: Products and services built to break or are full of holes aren’t reliable nor are they set up to have a promising future for both the customer and the producer. “Your product or service should perform as advertised, without failing or breaking down.” Keep the promises you made when your customer first signed up and that will ensure you a base of happy and loyal customers.
  2. Relevant: Don Peppers sees this characteristic as what he calls “customer competence”. He mentions that companies should, once they have learnt a customers’ details, it should be remembered. To add, we believe it is extremely important to know and understand your customers. If you think you know what your customers want, you’re probably wrong because only they know and the only way to find out is to get to know them. So listen to your customers!
  3. Valuable: If you make yourself relevant to a certain target customer, you should also make yourself valuable to them. Not only should your product/service provide your customers with great value for money but they should also become something that is seen as irreplaceable. These companies are called charismatic brands, where customers can’t seem to find an equal or second option for your product/service. Therefore build your brand as valuable to your target customer so that your customers become true fans.
  4. Honest: Genuine honesty creates a human organisation and will build brand stories that are unforgettable and therefore truly valuable for your company. We’ve mentioned this before in our previous post (2. Always put your customers first).

Read the Peppers article here.

How to Deal with Difficult Customers

Customers can be really difficult sometimes. Sure, it would be great if we could just make those customers just disappear…but that’s just unrealistic. Unsatisfied customers are extremely likely to spread their frustrations faster than you could ever hope to keep them quiet especially in this age of easy web access.

Instead of treating these difficult customers as a burden, try seeing it as a business opportunity for change. Negative customer feedback should always be taken as areas of growth. In a 1to1media article, it is pointed out that some companies actually “seek to understand what issues consumers keep encountering so they can adjust their approach and improve the customer experience for all.” Imagine that! Companies that are actually interested in what you the customer, is frustrated with!

Ok so how should you deal with “difficult” customers?

  1. Address their concerns: First and foremost, when customers are facing difficulties with your company, they want to feel acknowledged. Customers want to know that they are important and that their concerns will be addressed. By addressing customer concerns, you show that you are taking responsibility over it. Rather than patching up a common issue, “brands must look to the primary causes if they hope to rectify the situation.”

  2. Always put the customer first: This might be a difficult one for some because this means that no matter what cost and no matter what choice the customer may make in the end, their interests come first. There will be times when a customer will chose your competitor over you. Instead of leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth, make the customer’s experience with you a positive one, until the very end. Being extremely honest with your customers about where they can find better priced or better suiting plans/products will result in raving fans who will tell your story for years even though they aren’t exactly “with” you. That is far more valuable than an unhappy customer kept with a dishonest company that cannot provide what they desire.
  3. Don’t forget your internal customers: By internal customers, we mean your employees. Your employees are just as valuable as your external (end) customers for they are what makes your company work. They are the frontline staff and the “face” of the company. The morale of these internal customers are especially important since they communicate this throughout the organisation through their work. Therefore, support your staff while they deal with difficult customers especially when they are confronted with abusive behaviour. This will encourage “them to advocate for the brand and offer superior customer service, as they can rest assured that the company at hand is certainly one for which they want to work.”

Read the 1to1media article here. 

Transparency = Competitive Advantage

How can transparency become your competitive advantage?
We’ve broken it down to three areas that you can bring in transparency into your company so that you can transform it into your competitive advantage and why.

Transparency in:

  • How much your colleagues are earning: Transparency on the cost structure of your company can prove to create an incredible bond of trust within the organisation. This not only shows how much each position earns but clearly explains why. No one is left out and there are no hidden deals behind closed doors, which gives employees a sense of clear direction and certainty.
  • What your colleagues are doing: This helps employees keep track of where they are personally on a project but also what areas their colleagues are tackling, how much time they’re spending on it which holds people accountable to certain tasks. “In addition to sharing daily learnings and progress, everyone on the team also shares where they struggled and how they’re trying to improve.” This can be used to help people become more efficient and part of the team.
  • What your business goal is: Having a clear business goal that is apparent to both your internal customers and your external customers makes a statement about your company. Not only does the world know that, Google’s company mantra is “Don’t be evil”, but it is something that they will be held accountable for. Similarly, you will have to stand by your business goal and this gives your company a great amount of transparency and therefore trust in your brand.

“When you’re treating employees well, transparency is a very simple proposition–it’s just telling people what you do…it’s as easy as telling the truth.”

Read more on transparency in your business here. 

Banks are terrified! The solution: Technology and a Customer Centric Strategy

As many of us who’ve worked with the banking sector know, they can be a risk adverse and change resistant group. But in a recent article in the Australian, ANZ’s Chief Executive Mike Smith cautions, it is an industry about to face a ‘tsunami of disruptive technology’, a change he describes as “terrifying”.

Some of the source of that terror is driven by the pace of change happening in Silicon Valley where small and medium start-ups are breaking into the market with competing services previously confined to the banking industry.

We believe that to survive and thrive, banks will not only need to start playing in the digital sphere and embrace innovative technologies but also start looking and behaving like customer centric organisations like Amazon (considered by several as the most customer centric company in the world), delivering meaningful and delightful services. And as a customer insight specialist we know that it all starts with first understanding your customer needs and aspirations.

Over the years we’ve helped numerous organisations do just that and where we often find the real magic happens is when the organisation and customers goals align. Technology came into our lives to help us answer customer desires in an easy, reliable and user friendly way. Its use must facilitate the interaction between company and customer, generating a tight and last longing relationship.

Proto Partners helps companies create feasible (Your company has systems to develop it), viable (Your company can afford it) and desirable (Your customers want it) solutions that can be later prototyped and implemented.  In even simpler words, do customers WANT it, can we MAKE it, and is there a market for it?

To read the whole article, please click here.

The Top 5 Demand Generation Strategies

Marketing departments are being pushed by their corporate levels to provide highly qualified leads. However, customers spend almost 60% of the sales process without engaging with companies and doing their own research. On the one hand, since companies are no longer in control, it becomes harder to identify and nurture customers. On the other hand, customers expect a personalized interaction. Cynthia Clark identifies in the latest 1to1 Media weekly magazine, 5 strategies for companies to foster and nurture relationships.

1. Define the goals of your demand generation program and the key performance indicators to measure the project’s success- It is important to define a “demand generation strategy that addresses every step of the process”. In addition, companies need to understand who their clients are. In fact, focusing on their target audience will allow to faster engage and penetrate accounts and obtain lead generation from marketing campaigns.

2. Engage in a digital one-to-one conversation- Businesses need to be involved into the purchasing journey from the start, read customers’ signs, and react in the appropriate moments with valuable information. The challenge is to identify customers, understand their buying process, and provide relevant customized information that creates a conversation between the brand and the customer.

3. Focus on the right content at the right time- The important is to provide at the right time, the right message that fits customers needs and insights, and educates them. For that, companies need to realize to whom they are talking to and what it is important for them. One way is to construct personas and create content that it is relevant to those customers.

4. Add a layer of human intervention– The complete automation of the demand generation process leads to “too many under-qualified, dead, or recycled leads getting into the sales funnel, leading to wasted time for sales team”. Adding a layer of human interaction provides a final qualification, avoiding that unqualified leads pass to sales teams.

5. Align sales and marketing– The alignment between teams makes effective the lead generation process.

Cynthia concludes that the most important thing is to know your customers, their preferred communication channels, and deliver highly relevant content that engages them.

At Proto, we believe that everything starts with customer understanding. Knowing customer needs and insights is the first step to relevant and targeted solutions. Also, clustering similar needs, and creating personas allows your company to intervene in the right moment with the right message, engage its customer and foster brand loyalty.

Read the full article here.

Prophet insights into Digital Marketing

Last May, Gerd Leonhard, “one of the leading media-futurists in the world”, according to The Wall Street Journal, made some predictions on how Digital Marketing will look like in 2020.

He believes that companies, in 7 years, will have a customized approach that will be immediately adapted to answer customers’ needs. Unauthorized marketing will be useless and all “decisions to buy” will come from normative influence- They love it! I love it! Therefore, companies will have to create authentic relationships and nourish their customers to produce, as Amazon already calls it, “Customer Delight”. However, creating a trustworthy relationship is more than accessing data patterns, it’s about how to build an emotional connection- and that isn’t easy.

Understanding your customers’ wishes, desires and values is the first step into this new marketing era. We believe that here, at Proto Partners, we have the tools to help your company create an authentic and lasting relationship with your customers and walk brightly into the future.

Read the full article here.

Being a Meaningful Brand

“Make consumers’ lives better.”

This is what businesses and brands must do. Makes sense, doesn’t it? More often than not, brands fail to meet this need. A Co.Exist article discusses the need for brands today to create meaningful lives. Umair Haque, blogger from Harvard Business Review claims, “The next global economy isn’t just about stuff, it’s about human lives.” Over time, what consumers look for in a brand has drastically changed over time from what the product does to how it makes you feel to who you are. Today it is about making a better you.

The marketplace is cluttered with businesses that sell “throwaway” products in the name of consumerism and brands that are stained with negative experiences, making it difficult for anyone with a conscience to associate with. There are however, amidst it all, brands that do it right. These are the customer centric businesses that genuinely want to improve the livelihood of its customers.

“Your customers, are beginning to take a quantum leap into an era where a life meaningfully well lived is what really counts.”

In order to keep up in this era, some brands may have to undergo internal rebuilding so that fulfilling the customer’s desire for a more meaningful life is achievable. This might mean realigning your core values with your customers and creating a cultural change within your work place that focuses on your customers’ ultimate need. Keep up with the new era of change and be the brand that is far more meaningful than ever before, be the brand that makes your customers’ lives better. At Proto Partners we can help you to do this. Our goal is to “help organisations enrich the lives of customers, one customer experience at a time.” hence making a more meaningful brand.

The Omnichannel Retail Experience

Retails stores worldwide struggle with the threat of online shopping. In our previous post, we looked at how retail stores can include mobiles in their customer experience. However, what are the other channels that retail can explore? What are other ways that retail can stay relevant? Is it possible to have an omnichannel retail experience?

John Lewis, a department store in Great Britain has proved that it is possible. The retailer has offered numerous innovative shopping experiences through digital channels explains Natalie Brandweiner in a MyCustomer article.

We already know the popularity of mobiles worldwide and throughout generations today. John Lewis has utilized this well by providing an app to complement the customer journey in stores. The app allows customers to scan barcodes and to place new orders for stock. Their “Click-and-Collect” service has also proven to be a success in creating their omnichannel presence. Andy Street from John Lewis justifies, “We know that about 60% of our customers buy both online and in shops so the approach is to make it absolutely seamless … So they can research in one place and shop in the other, they can buy in one place and pick up in the other – the art of sales is consistent across channels…They’re not even supposed to know or see or realize which channel they’re using because it’s one overall customer offer.” 

So how can retail compete for their existence? Install an omnichannel experience that’s relevant to your company where “all purchase channels are seamlessly connected, therefore allowing consumers more flexibility and convenience.”

Read more here.

“Showrooming” and Mobiles, Retail’s Enemy or Friend?

“Showrooming” is when people come into store to look at products and go away from the retail store to view it online to find cheaper options. With “showrooming” on the rise, how can retail stores keep customers in stores? A realbusiness article suggests says it’s as simple as using mobile in store.

Research shows that most people who showroom actually use their mobiles during their shopping experience. Mobile is a threat to the retail environment, however there is also an opportunity to make friends with the enemy. Companies can now interact with their customers while they shop through their mobiles, perhaps there could be a mobile retail assistant? Or perhaps specials made available through mobiles or even product suggestions as you browse the store. “It’s the perfect tool for businesses to find new ways to make buying in-store the convenient option.” By truly understanding how mobile are used by customers and their retail journey experience with you, opportunities for a successful new form of interaction with your brand is made possible.

Read the full article here.