Successful small and medium businesses (SMB) companies face continual challenges in retaining customers and ensuring profitable long-term relationships. In this regard, SMB businesses are turning toward more non-traditional ‘wow’ approaches to identify creative and more powerful means of retaining and up-selling and cross-selling existing customers. However, this is not a straightforward objective to accomplish in the current highly-competitive marketplace.
Today, many companies struggle to correctly identify the basis and incentives for long-term customer loyalty and the associated brand differentiation and quantifiable value outcomes of ongoing customer experiences programs.
Customers want and deserve a positive experience, not just a transactional relationship, with the companies and products that they favor with their wallets. The customer experience that is, making each feel special is increasingly the critical mission-critical factor for a business to stand out from its competitors and remain highly viable in the marketplace.
Consumer expectations are driving a significant shift in brand focus from products to customer experiences! It is a given that businesses can no longer tightly control messaging about their brand and products; customer experience is now the primary basis of competitive market success. ‘Wow,’ customer experiences are becoming the prime driver for increased customer engagement, customer retention, brand loyalty, and business growth.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Truly understanding and appreciating customer needs and successfully translating them into ‘wow’ customer experiences can deliver significant benefits for a company, not only improving brand and product loyalty and increasing sales, but empowering staff and positively impacting profitability and productivity.
Gartner, in 2017 reported:
“……that customer experience is truly the new X factor. It’s time to focus on creating memorable experiences for customers. We live in an age where the companies that bring the most unique value will win. It’s an experiential world, where the distinctive brands thrive and the cookie-cutter, same-as-everyone-else companies crack and crumble.”
People initially gravitate toward experiences that are usually harmonious with the same or their similar past experiences, but in the end, engage, consume, or interact with skills that may be contrary to their original thoughts. Designing a new high-value differentiated experience requires an ‘out-of-the-box’ mindset explicitly focused on customer requirements versus company needs. Creative differentiated customer experience will generally evoke an emotional response with customers, which in turn will create a foundation for future relationship longevity and profitability.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Customer Experience Research Statistics
PWC reported the below research statistics that underscore the importance of focusing on providing ‘wow’ customer experiences.
- 32% of customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.
- In U.S., even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences; 17% after one bad experience.
- In Latin America, 49% say they’d walk away from a brand after one bad experience.
Customer Experience Commoditization
Customer experience is rapidly evolving into a commodity strategic posture in many industry sectors! Today, smart shoppers are no longer benchmarking their customer experiences with competitor products and services – they’re associating with the ‘wow’ customer experiences (and satisfaction) they receive in all their purchasing and servicing interactions.
Customers generally want to deal with other people, not brands or product-focused companies. Receiving an email from a business without personalization is not an example of a ‘wow’ interaction and will not result in building positive and profitable relationships.
Market research supports that the frontline of sales success and market viability within a very competitive marketplace will be playing out where ‘wow’ customer experiences have more value than brand loyalty as the priority purchase criteria.
Differentiation / Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Differentiating a business makes it memorable and credible and helps prospects to quickly understand the company’s value proposition and what sets it apart from the competitors. The key to differentiation or Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is identifying the target customers’ wants and making sure it is delivered better than anyone else in the market. Sometimes executives are just too close to their businesses to truly see that differentiating quality that makes their company stand out!
“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”
‘Wow’ Customer Experience Drivers
Digital transformation has made ‘wowing’ the customer a mission-critical goal for customer-obsessed businesses. With customer loyalty and profitability more and more defined by highly-effective digital channels, exploiting that experience is driving many organizations to be more creative with the design and deployment of personalized services that lock in long-term customer relationships.
The key drivers for setting up an influential corporate culture of ‘Wow’ Customer Experiences encompass:
- Create an omnichannel shopping environment.
- Exploit social media communications.
- Leverage the power of the intelligent cloud.
- Make use of and integrate artificial intelligence.
- Exploit the use of chatbots.
These new channels are creating the ‘empowered customer’ in the digital era that holds tremendous influence on corporate financial performance. Customers are aware of this impact and use it to their advantage when selecting products and services. Buyers no longer expect excellent customer service; they demand it!
Brand name businesses are no longer able to compete primarily on price. In the current environment, they must compete on delivering a compelling technology-driven customer experience that will influence long-term relationships and referrals.
Bain & Company Survey:
“We surveyed 362 firms and found that 80% believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But when we asked customers about their own perceptions, we found that they rated only 8% of companies as truly delivering a superior experience. Clearly, it’s easy for leading companies to assume they’re keeping customers happy; it’s quite another thing to achieve that kind of customer devotion.”
The Value & Benefits
Market research supports that archetypal customers are more likely to continually purchase additional products and services (via up-selling and cross-selling) from businesses that provide superior customer experience.
The payoff for valued and ‘wow’ customer experiences are tangible and include:
- Increased pricing: Price premium on products and services.
- Increased loyalty: repeat orders, referrals, and testimonials.
- Decreased marketing and sales cost.
- Product and services enhancement.
- Enriched branding.
“Frequently taking note of the little things is the key to our success.”
Sir Richard Branson