On Tuesday I blogged about a truly awful customer experience. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, I introduced the readers to a very unhappy blogger named Xavier Klingenfus. Xavier had a memorable Customer Experience (for all the wrong reasons) with Expedia and his bank. I talked about the potential consequences of getting the customer experience wrong and the impact on customer loyalty and trust in the brand. I also introduced you to the launch of the Customer Experience Journal. I’m really excited about the blog topic this week. We have sailed through the treacherous, stormy waters of the South Atlantic and left the bad customer experiences behind. We can see the white, sun kissed shores of the Caribbean on the horizon and this must mean one thing; we are about to talk about a good customer experience. No, a jaw dropping, out of this world, let me give me you all my hard earned cash customer experience.
Last week I explained how we all experience companies every day and these experiences either strengthen or weaken the bond between the customer and the company (or brand). As I write this blog I am sitting on a train, on my way to visit a client in a glamorous UK’ destination north of Watford. Someone’s phone won’t stop playing that annoying Nokia ringtone, my knees are pressed up hard against the seat in front and I feel like a sardine. As you have probably all been there before, I’m sure you’ll agree, not an out of this world customer experience. But enough of all this doom and gloom…..I’m sure I can find a company out there that is top of the Customer Experience class. No doubt you will have read about the Apple iPhone 3GS and the myriad of paid for and free applications that can come with it. Some of these are simply incredible. How did we survive before without the iPhone to guide us home from the pub? How did we manage to navigate our way through modern life without a tool that allows us to calculate how much the restaurant bill costs amongst friends? In all seriousness, the complexity and variety of iPhone applications that help thousands of consumers get through both the trivial and complex in their lives have become a resounding hit. So it is widely recognised that Apple have a product that is just great. So is that the solution to a jaw dropping customer experience. Well, it’s a damn good start but I think there’s probably more to it than that. This turns me to the story of blogger Mark Fidelman. He explains how he recently joined the ranks of other ‘RNAUs’ (recently new Apple users) by purchasing the new Apple iPhone 3GS. He never fantasised much over the ‘hipster’ company before but couldn’t resist the appeal of the slick looking video function. This initially tells us that (for Mark) the product functionality was more important than the cool factor of the brand. Mark explains that from the very first interaction on the Apple website, right through to the paperless receipt confirmation (by the way, thanks very much Virgin Media for recently charging £1.25 for my unwanted paper receipt) was a ‘smooth and stress free’ process. One great product, many great experiences equals one very happy RNAU. Mark explains how he was ‘stunned’ how he was given the right answer or information at each step ‘before he had to ask’. It gets better. Mark explains that ‘they probably have customer service experts break down the entire buying experience into detailed actions, then optimize them.’ It sounds like Mark is in a similar line of work to me. Mark is right though, it is unlikely that Apple gave Mark a series of great experiences in sequence by luck. It is likely that Apple broke down each potential interaction along Mark’s customer journey and thought about how each step would make him react and feel. This is what gives Mark the impression that Apple knows next week’s lottery numbers. A clever little bit of scenario planning, from the customer’s viewpoint, can make a big impression. Now, here comes the important bit. Where companies can take the customer experience to the next level is to understand the entire customer journey across any function within the organisation and then make it as joined-up and stress free as possible. What this gives is an impression of customer devotion and understanding. Like Apple managed with Mark, this makes the customer purr with delight. They are happy, they feel understood and they come back over and over again. You can read more about why it is important for companies to consider the Customer Experience across the entire organisation in our recent Journal. We would love to hear about any great experiences you have had with brands and how you have reacted.