Managing your customer’s experience is a vital part of your marketing plan. Why? Because it is the number one factor of customer loyalty, and your customer’s experience is the breeding ground of word of mouth.
Customer satisfaction is no longer good enough. As Shaun Smith and Joe Wheeler write in Managing the Customer Experience, customer satisfaction “is now the norm and the entry price for any organization wishing to be successful. As a result, differentiation on the basis of customer service has actually declined.” Further, “…satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers. Satisfaction is now expected taken for granted.”
So if the customer experience is not just service and satisfaction, what is it? In The Myth of Excellence, Fred Crawford and Ryan Matthews say that “…what experience-oriented customers really want is a sense of intimacy.” Don’t take that quote the wrong way. What the authors are saying is that customers want more than entertainment, they want something personal. Customers want emotions and memories from the experience. Rather than delivering an everyday ordinary experience, your mission is to deliver a remarkable customer experience. But where do you start?
That’s where marketing comes into the picture. You start by building an experience based on your customer’s preconception of your business. That preconception is built upon your brand identity. Start with your brand promise and ask yourself;
“If I were my customer, what would I expect?”
Then map out an experience from start to finish based on those expectations. I have developed a Customer Experience Map (click here) for that purpose. Step-by-step, design and implement an experience that is consistent with your brand promise. Keep a steady flow to the experience.
But remember, earlier we learned that the key to a remarkable experience is intimacy. Customer intimacy is built on two key ingredients: emotions and memories. To add emotion, engage your customer personally, don’t just entertain them. Your goal is to make your customer feel like they are part of the business. Treat them with the importance they deserve.
One last ingredient: memories. I call these magic spots, or key memory points. In each stage of the experience build in a magic spot: an out-of-the-ordinary special moment. Magic spots are very important. They give customers a memory to recall later when they reflect on the experience. Magic spots also give your customers something to talk about when they tell their friends about the experience.
It’s basic marketing. Between branding your business and creating word of mouth, give customers something to talk about: a remarkable experience.