Only a click away

  • Posted by Keith Willetts
  • November 18, 2014 12:01 PM GMT
  • s

Delivering a great customer experience is vital in the digital world

Ripples in a digital pond

In the digital world, customer self-service is the norm: they see your service up so close that there’s no hiding place and they’re only ever a click away from moving to your competitors.

Delivering a great customer experience is a vital part of keeping customers loyal and setting you apart from the competition, while building a valuable digital brand and enabling you to charge premium prices. If customers feel they are getting more, they’re willing to pay more - that’s why Apple can make profit margins bigger than many of their competitors’ retail price! Loyal customers tell their friends and a positive experience impacts not just one customer but many. Unfortunately this ripple effect works in reverse - one disaffected customer tells their friends through blogs, Facebook and Twitter and their friends tell other friends and before long somebody has started a website dedicated to showcasing all the bad things that you do!

This digital ripple effect is very important: get it right and brand loyalty rises, churn decreases, and profitability rises. Get it wrong and the result is customer dissatisfaction, hassles, disappointments, annoyances, unnecessary costs, discounting and losing the customers.  

Companies that invest in and actively manage their customer experience do so because it’s hardheaded business sense - it costs a lot to acquire a customer and that’s money wasted if you lose them and others in the process. A customer centric organization is one which keeps the customer in the forefront of every decision made throughout the company, yet all too often, executives regularly make decisions which seem reasonable in isolation but have a very negative impact on customers.


Great customer experience doesn’t happen by accident

Good or bad customer experiences don’t just happen: they’re the consequence of company ethos and actions and result from the sum total of every interaction with the customer. A great customer experience has to be carefully designed and managed so that every touch point with the customer is optimized – if it’s not, every minute you have the possibility of losing a customer and their friends.  At its most basic, the starting point might be as simple as “getting rid of things that annoy customers" but, to compete with the best, you should aspire to do “things that delight customers".

To make that work, you need good insights into what annoys and delights customers. Data analytics and business metrics are at the heart of this but there are no absolute measures for these things - they vary around the world with different cultures and expectations change all the time, usually impacted by other companies that set the benchmark by which you are measured.

But all too often, corporations have an inward view life as a series of departments, each with their own objectives with little care for the overall impact on the customer - one reason why Steve Jobs eliminated individual divisional targets at Apple in favor of an holistic approach.


Do something:  don’t just talk about it!

Companies like Apple and Amazon companies who deliver a great customer experience get discussed frequently at conferences and in many articles like this one. The problem is that when people get back to their normal job  little, if anything, changes unless there is strong, visionary leadership and a clear corporate mandate to do so.  

Complacency, hubris or simply bad management may survive when competition is weak but as the digital tornado gathers pace it is showing no mercy to businesses that don’t deliver what customers want.  Fixing bad customer experience isn't something you can bolt on just as your final customers are walking out of the door and turning round a poor reputation for quality and customer experience is a Herculean task.  




This article is the fourth in a series based on Keith Willetts new book Unzipping the Digital World, available from the TM Forum and Amazon in hardback and Kindle formats. Later articles will explore key competencies in greater detail.