The evolution of consumer behavior has brought a new set of challenges for business leaders in their effort to stand out from competitors. Retail for example morphed from Quality - Big Selection - Easy Returns - Online Shopping - Incentive Programs - Free Shipping - Next Day Shipping.
Everyone is offering and playing the same business tricks and methods of acquiring customers. How does a company stand out? In this interview, Kyle Winward, Head of Customer Success at Puls talks about it and why should organizations become an agent of experience than an agent of service.
Winward notes, “We are now dealing with a generation who values (exceptional) experiences more than brand loyalty. Due to infinite options and rising customer’s expectations, customers want a seamless experience before and after purchase.” We will see a transformational shift from service to experience. Hence, companies need to evolve or become extinct! Remember, customers everywhere crave experiences that are simple, intuitive, and amazing.
Background and Career
Winward has worked across many industries (eCommerce, manufacturing, SaaS, B2C, and B2B). When he moved into B2B Business Development/Account Management, he learned extensive knowledge within the Project/Change Management and has been developing and executing processes that include implementation, onboarding, and process improvement.
There are two revenue streams in every company pointed out by Winward, those are Sales and Support. The former brings in the money, while the latter keeps it. Shifting from a product to experience focused, a new way of delivering service and value has been born. This led to the emerging role of CS.
If organizations haven’t had a CS in their three-legged stool, (1) Companies will become extinct (2) stagnate (3) have no long term perspective in delivering the success of their customers (4) everything is all about a cookie-cutter approach (it is more on reactive or firefighters approach than proactive ones).
Hence, successful CS experience is a transition of a product/service into/out of a consumer's life. The job of CS/CE is to help guide, redirect, or provide value as needed. Think of CS/CE like the tail-fin on a surfboard. It brings stability and helps with overall control. All of this ties back into a need to focus on the experience.
Remember, “emotion creates memories”. If an organization wants to understand their customer’s feelings and sentiments, CS/CE could identify that on every conversation or interaction.
How? When customers drop their guard, real conversations begin. No posturing, no this for that, just a couple of people getting work done. Even at a later date, a triggered memory will always bring back that emotion. It is cementing a brand experience in people’s minds and reflections of the desired perception toward a brand’s values.
A shift from Like to Love
The customer experience is where you are going to get that organic growth (word of mouth). Companies need to show that their marketing engine is primed, but they also need to show their customers are either repeating or telling their friends.
Success has no timetable, and there is no set of rules on how to achieve it. It all depends on the product, market, customers, industry or demographic. To ensure success, organizations must:
1) Set realistic expectations.
2) Understand the cause of misunderstandings and why the issue occurred.
3) Focus on the solution rather than the problem.
4) Avoid too many many cooks in the kitchen if not necessary.
5) Provide the scope of the solution, exact timetables, and don't promise anything you can't fulfill.
Remember, trust is doing what you say when you say you will do it, or at least give an update to as why you will miss your target. An informed customer, may not be happy with the news, but at least its resetting their expectations. We also need to shift from like to love relationship and as with any relationship, it takes a lot of trust and communication to get there.
I mentioned earlier about the shift to "the experience" but let's looks specifically at how a customer can/will rate a product or service. Stars are cheap nowadays. No longer a 5-star experience is an exceptional service. Five stars just mean you show up, do your job and don’t break anything else, it's simply getting the customer the correct product in the expected time frame.
We need to start thinking about beyond the 5th star to achieve some sort of excellence. What is a 6, 7, 8, 9, 10-star experience and what are the challenges each level brings? On one of Reid Hoffman's podcast Masters of Scale, Brian Chesky the CEO of Airbnb discusses the "starred experience" and pushing its' boundaries.
Many of the companies have a shortage of one or the other, you need both (excellent product experience and great support) to forge a lasting relationship. You can't improve business relationships without these two elements.
As many organizations are coming up and competing for value and service, products alone will not help. You don't need to be first, you just need to be the best and put customers at everything you do. It is wise to learn from the stumbles of others as you build your own CS growth programs. No need to test what they failed unless the theory was sound, but the execution was off.
Remember, we are all now in the business of delivering experiences but in the midst of these changes, the truth is still the same: consumers get to choose their own preferred route to satisfy a need. Hence, earning satisfaction and loyalty means providing the best customer experience possible at a cost that is right for them.