Are Customers Getting Smarter than Business Leaders? Hard Truths About Customer Experience!

I’m a fan of both business leaders and customers. However, of the two groups, it seems that customers are winning when it comes to embracing change.

For example, the Walker Customers 2020 report compared business customers of 2020 with counterparts from research conducted in 2013. The study’s authors conclude business leaders are having a difficult time keeping pace as “interactions at every stage of the <customer> journey are becoming more complex” forcing business leaders to address “the big three: personalization, ease, and speed.” Walker goes on to note “meeting customer expectations in the new decade means shifting from being ‘customer-focused’ to ‘customer committed.’ This deliberate transformation requires a fundamental change in how…companies think, act, and collaborate.”

While Walker suggests customers are thinking more carefully about the companies with whom they do business, many business leaders have not spent as much time thinking about the stated and unstated wants, needs, and desires of those they serve.

Companies that are delivering personalized, easy, and swift customer experiences are benefiting from their leaders’ efforts toward transformation.

For example, Qualtrics released a January 2020 report, CX in the Retail Industry, which concluded that the retail “customer experience is strongly related to a consumer’s likelihood to rebuy from a company – with a correlation coefficient of 0.85…Only 7% of customers who interacted with a retailer over the previous six months say they had a bad experience…However, of those customers who did endure a poor experience, 59% of them say that they either decreased or stopped spending after that poor interaction…”

While customer expectations are increasing at a lightning pace, the fundamentals of customer experience delivery have remained relatively constant across the past decade. I describe those expectations from the customer’s perspective as follows:

  • Take the time to know me.
  • Understand my journey with your brand (from consideration to repeat business and referrals).
  • Offer me convenient opportunities to get my needs met, so I can expend as minimal effort as possible. I want to enjoy my lifestyle and not divert from it to interact with you on your terms.
  • Blend smart technology with equally smart and compassionate people.
  • Give me a positive story about my interaction with you, so I can share it across my social network.
  • Value me, my business, and my loyalty to you.

Smart customers realize that they have the power to choose brands that care about them and exceed their expectations.

Less smart leaders believe that customers make decisions predominantly based on the benefits, attributes, quality, and price of their products. For those leaders, product excellence and/or pricing efficiencies win the day and customer experience is a nice to have, but non-essential element of their success.

While there may be pockets of consumers who don’t care how they’re treated (as long as they can get the lowest price), that customer segment is clearly shrinking. By their nature, those commoditized customers are also not loyal. If you live and die by pricing, you are a coupon away from irrelevance.

As you look at your business’s ability to understand your customers and their journey with you, I welcome the opportunity to understand you and your needs: particularly, as you seek to offer your customers a personalized, efficient, and caring experience.

Let’s stay “smart” and keep up with our customers and the “smart” choices they are making on behalf of customer committed businesses. Simply reach out to me here and we’ll find a time to talk!

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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