Three insights that will help you offer a better customer experience March 9, 2018

Customer Centricity Photo By Vladislav Klapin On Unsplash

In preparation of our next Customers the Day After Tomorrow Tour to Silicon Valley, we wanted to share some of the customer-focused insights that we gathered on our previous tours. Because it's #throwbackfriday.

#1 Show your customers — and your employees — a little love

As category kings are emerging, it might be smarter for smaller retailers to focus on ‘wantedness’ rather than features or price. Make your customers feel that they’re part of the culture of your brand. This statement clearly applies to personnel as well, if we think of how Google has built its employee community from day one. Even after nearly 20 years, and with 70,000 employees worldwide, their employee turnover is astoundingly low. It may be far from its roots as a brash start-up, but Google’s employees call it a place where they feel trusted and where they are still close to their founders. Larry and Sergey’s weekly TGIF employee meetings are much more than a gimmick; they’re something that is valued tremendously by everyone involved. Senior staff share much more information with all employees than most companies normally do. They trust staff members to use the information wisely, which in turn creates a company-wide feeling of ownership and mutual respect. How do they manage this? In short:   

  • They build on a shared vision 
  • They stimulate ownership 
  • They nurture curiosity 
  • They support risk-taking 
  • They advocate collaboration

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#2 ‘Invisible technology’ creates a better, smoother customer experience

Peter Hinssen wrote a piece about innovation being about making things invisible a while back. It's one of the basic characteristics of a smooth customer experience. Back in the Stone Age of e-commerce, buying online could be cumbersome, clumsy — in short, very consumer-unfriendly. After years of incremental improvements, Amazon dropped a bomb and introduced one-click buying, and suddenly things got a whole lot easier. Today, there’s voice-activated and voice-responsive Alexa. In a matter of years from three (or more) clicks, to one click, to no clicks. Amazon has made buying invisible. 

Technology has optimized the time and productivity of call centers, so fewer people are needed and customers get a better experience. Now there are chatbots that might replace human operators completely. Invisible, again. At Walmart in Silicon Valley, Jason Hreha - one of the world’s best applied behavioral scientists - once told us some of the smallest incremental changes can make a big difference for customers without even having to involve technology. “The problem with many companies these days”, he said, “is that they use technology as a starting point when they should be using it as a tool to make things possible. A customer doesn’t care whether technology was involved; it should be running quietly behind the scenes. So keep in mind that customers and their experience come first, which means you don’t have to think about about technology first, but about the people you want to service.”   

#3 Omnichannel is the true key to retail success

Is physical retail dead or not? Is it a cage match with Bricks-and-Mortar versus E-Commerce? Forget Either/Or. The answer is Both, or rather, All. Omnichannel is the new normal. In New York City, businesses that practice omnichannel marketing and retailing are already thriving. Actually, it really doesn’t matter where consumers buy your products. You just have to be sure you’re providing the total multi-channel experience that will keep on leading them to you. Scary, but without it, you just don't survive. 

Samsung 837 is an iconic experience store where you can't even buy products, but only experience what their technology can do. In fact, they don’t call it a store, but rather their "technology playground and cultural destination". Try out a dozen of VR experiences, imagine living in a smart home and stop by when they have another immersive event they're live-streaming. Shoppers still love to shop in a store, and maybe they always will. However, if you want it to be your store they shop in, you do have to step up the game and create a unique experience and feeling. As Story puts it: you need to maximize experience / m² instead of $ / m². They see their shop as a magazine and every 6 weeks or so they bring out a new edition.   

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