Customer experiences really are everything

New Thinking 20 December 2016 Rodger Perkins

Experiences are unique to each of us. The way I experience an event will be different to that of a person sitting right next to me. How we individually experience something is based not only on the event we're a part of, but also on the personal reference points we have. Our uniqueness as people, our personal history, events happening outside the immediate event and expectations, all combine to create a uniqueness in our individual experiences.

While experience can be purchased in the way we pay for a meal or theme park ride, experiences can't be stored (other than in one’s memory). But increasingly, we're understanding that experience truly is everything and takes place in every transaction or event we’re a part of. If you're running a business or team, your edge is how your organisation delivers experiences to the people who work for you or buy goods/services from you.

So experience drives every part of your business and are made each and every day. Every interaction creates an experience. The question is ‘Are these experiences that you're proud of?’ Is your organisation creating experiences that drive higher levels of staff engagement, customer loyalty and increased revenue? Great businesses focus all their attention on creating great experiences. 

Going above and beyond

Recently, I engaged a local electrician to undertake some work at my house. After meeting the owner of the company and without knowing any more, I had expectations and looked forward to getting the work done. The electrician arrived and made a start. He quickly deduced the root cause and the best solution, completed the work and achieved an outcome that met my expectations. However, this fully engaged professional took the entire engagement to another level. He showed me the problem and how to fix it myself. He cleaned each of the light fittings as he went, introduced me to a new cleaning product and even gave my dog a treat. The level of service and customer attention was absolutely awesome. Two direct outcomes of this experience are:

1. I'm a loyal customer and look forward to asking these guys back into my home.

2.  I haven't seen the account yet, but I already know I'm ok with it. If their additional care and attention costs me a little more, I'm ok with that. All great experiences are worth a premium. The cost difference between a poor or average experience and a great experience is often not great. It's worth paying a little extra for complete care and great outcomes. 

I believe that every person I interact with is a customer of mine – a customer of my personal business. As a business owner, I'm extremely proud of my service levels. I’m the first to acknowledge that I don't always get it right. We never get it right day in, day out, but I'm trying and I’m focused on getting better and improving. 

Playing the long game

I'm playing the long game and I'm fortunate to be working for an organisation that encourages a personal growth journey and mentors its people. As with all businesses, I have some customers who are awesome, loyal and committed (like I will be with my new electrician). But equally, I have some who undervalue my time or are argumentative and difficult (customers who really don't care about me).

How valuable is your personal share price?

We all have difficult customers, but it's how we treat them that sets our businesses apart. I also believe in the concept of a personal share price. This concept follows that, on any given day or period of time, your personal share price is either increasing or decreasing. Individually, we can assess this. Have you done something today that is recognised as valuable, useful and delivers benefit to others? Or has your day delivered nothing of value? Are you questioning what you achieved today? If you are, then your personal share price is changing. It could be going up, because you’re now questioning your output, the first step to improvement. Equally, the share price could be going down because you've delivered no value recently. Like all markets, ups and downs are expected and both are ok. When you consider your share price on a day-to-day basis, it will change, but it’s the long-term trend that's important. Over the year, has your share price increased or remained flat?

In summary:

  • Experience is everything: What are you doing to create awesome experiences around you? When was the last time you experienced a truly excellent experience – one that you’ll tell everyone about?
  • Everyone you interact with is your customer: Customers are important. They are the very soul of our business.  Every interaction is an opportunity to create locality and commitment
  • You have a personal share price. How is yours tracking? Can you reach the point of personal success where you're able to pay out a dividend to those around you?

Service first for best business

I believe it's time to rethink how services are delivered to our customers. As service providers, we need to move from geographical structures to service-first businesses, focusing on creating great experiences in every event. Services are the delivery mechanism that creates great customer experiences. Both customers and staff expect great experiences. People drive decisions based on experiences. What happened last time? Was the last engagement a success? Service-led organisations focus on service outcomes and customer success first.

The final element of our new business environment is customer choice. If creating great customer experiences is the carrot, then customer choice is the stick. In today's business world, customers have endless choice and the ability to solve a problem in many ways. Any business that thinks their customers don't have choice won’t be here in five years.

Take NZ Post. A great New Zealand brand, but what’s their long-term business plan? People don't send personal mail anymore. Business mail is slowing as more and more business is completed online. Even the parcel business will slow as organisations like Amazon move into the delivery business and compete directly with NZ Post. As we approach Christmas this year, I've spoken to people who used to buy presents in New Zealand and post them to England. All now buy them in England getting free local delivery on the item. Amazon will even gift wrap the present.

You can spend $100 on postage from New Zealand – I’ve done it – so, having cut out NZ Post, I save money and time and deliver the same result to my overseas family. My suggestion for NZ Post? Make the sending and receiving of mail a great experience by focusing on the experience customers will have. We have to move away from post being only bills (there’s no joy in bills) to post being something we can look forward to. Make sending and receiving parcels easy, timely and interesting. Focus on delivery quality and customers. Put customers at the centre of every business decision.  

Loyalty grows from great outcomes

Customers can choose. Why are customers choosing you? Customers achieving their outcomes through your services or business are loyal and through great experiences will continue to support you and your business. 

Assurity is fully focused on fantastic customer outcomes and results. In the seven years I’ve worked with the company, we’ve never been asked to leave an engagement or failed in our job. We've worked on some of the most challenging projects in New Zealand, faced scrutiny and audits. Our approach has always been approved or validated.

As a delivery consultancy, we don't 'do it' to our customers. We work with organisations and show them how it can be done. We coach, we mentor. We help teams and organisations to be better. Our long game is the ongoing development of a world-leading technology sector working to benefit New Zealand. One great experience at a time, we're working towards our goal.