Develop a holistic customer experience if you want your business to succeed

Yes, a recent business week article is reminding us how important it is to give your customer an experience that will give you their ongoing loyalty.

Key takeaways:

  • Consumers are looking for companies to give their allegiance to
  • Consumers are looking for experiences that cater to their deep-seated desires
  • This type of engagement requires much more than the latest technological breakthrough: It requires emotional engagement
  • The product or service itself does not have value, but the way in which it is experienced makes it fresh. That means you can even charge a premium for it.
  • Creating a meaningful experience requires thoughtful attention to your customers at every point of contact
  • Know where you are in the innovation cycle. There are three areas of innovation: technology, product, and experience.
  • Know your DNA. The only way to attract your true tribe is to authentically be yourself
  • Make emotional connections. Understand your customer well enough to know the difference between what they need and what they desire
  • Design for the complete experience- this covers all channels, off and online engagement

My Starbucks Idea

In the similar fashion of  Dell’s Ideastorm,  yet with a softer and what I think it is a more accessible design for non techy people is— My Starbucks idea. 

The concept was paned at their annual meeting, but it appears that the new site has received thousands of comments/ votes since launching.

The number of comments and the success of this is probably due to Starbucks huge market share and the fact that the site is one big suggestion box where anything seems to go. But, it seems to be acheiveing its goals of getting traffic, giving customers an open platform and getting “ideas”.

However, the true success of this concept will come if Starbucks is able show that they are listening. To do this they need to implement the suggestions and then feedback back what they’ve done to the MyStarbucksIdea.com audience.

Evolution of Marketing

I just read an interesting email newsletter from Forrester Research about the evolution of marketing. Historically, marketing was a one way street where companies pushed everything to consumers; this was done on and offline.  Now as the online experience evolves consumers and marketers begin to develope “relationships”.  These relationships grow as consumers actively engage with a companies brand .

As I can’t provide a link to the newsletter—here is a cut and paste of the content:

Direct marketers and market researchers unearth deep client needs. Leading direct marketers already combine Web clicks with purchase and loyalty data to unearth a consumer’s interaction with the brand. But BrandIntel went a step further and recorded the content that users generated and other consumers read. It could then analyze what its customers really wanted and why one production flopped — Snakes on a Plane — and another succeeded — Heroes. Direct marketers will also use this data to find brand ambassadors and pamper them.

eCommerce professionals drive online sales with personalization. More than a third of Web visitors will make a purchase after seeing a personalized recommendation. eCommerce professionals can boost online sales with one-to-one personalization, such as individual homepages at Amazon.com, or one-to-many personalization, such as Virgin’s mobile offers based on someone’s home address. These firms base personalization on engagement — how the consumer behaves on their site.

Customer experience professionals innovate the brand. Whirlpool observed people at home and used the results to develop a new sub-brand — Gladiator — with fridges for men in their garages. To meet these uncovered needs, customer experience professionals will develop a disruptive strategy, simplifying the interaction, amplifying the service elements, and repositioning the brand overall.

Interactive marketers drive a better online experience. With 80% of consumers visiting manufacturers’ sites to learn about products and services, a firm’s online presence is the ideal starting point for repositioning. Firms can improve their online engagement with their customers, inviting them to offer input for brand values and product strategies in an online community, as Lego and Dell have done.

Marketing leaders steer based on hard data. Measuring engagement will take the guesswork out of budget allocation.  Engagement can drive awareness, transactions, brand preference, and loyalty. But each of these objectives requires a different approach and investment in people, processes, and technology. Marketing leaders from firms like CompUSA and BMW prioritized one goal, chose a very specific set of tools and vendors, and successfully moved the needle on transactions and loyalty, respectively.

Delivering an Extraordinary Customer Experience

Awhile ago I read an interesting article with Scott Griffith , CEO of Zipcar.com in an Adaptive Path newsletter.

The most interesting part was about Zipcars’ approach to user experience being ingrained in the brand ideals of the organisation. These ideals start at the website and then they are interwoven into the lifetime experience of the customer.

From interview

Question: In terms of the design of that service — you’ve got a lot of components — a web site, mobile (I don’t know if it’s SMS), you’ve got the cars themselves, and a call center. How explicit is the design of the service? How planned is it? What does Zipcar’s blueprint look like? Is it really refined and detailed, or is it a bit more organic?

Answer: Well, we have one. We have a culture that we’ve tried to develop that, we hope, matches the brand that we deliver; and that’s all around self-service. The design is meant to be simple in nature, elegant, and self-service focused. It starts in the company’s culture and in the DNA of our brand. We’re very serious about keeping all of our user systems very simple, but we have a group internally that we call our product group.

They focus on the lifetime experience that a member has with our service, from the first time they go to our web site through the last time they ever use one of our cars and decide not to be a member any more. They map that cycle and follow it; we’re constantly trying to refine and improve that map, that architecture. That timeline, by the way, lasts for typically four or five years, our members stay with us for multiple years.

We think about that whole experience as they use the cars for the first time or review their online billing for the first time. They might have a problem on the side of the road, to refuel the car, get into an accident; these are all experiences that we have to deal with, because we’re treating these cars very much like car ownership, but you’re just buying it one hour at a time.”

I love the idea that to truly deliver an extraordinary customer experience, it needs to start with a careful definition of what that is; then ingrain the solution into the companies brand and culture. Give the customer a full experience that starts with marketing/sales material and then seamlessly embed it into every interaction that the customer has with the company over time.