Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Bringing total customer experience into your business’ core competency

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on August 9, 2011

The partitioning of a customer and potential customer base according to perceived value to the business is as old as business itself – a store for example might have certain high-end customers whose purchasing habits bring in extra value, and occasional, impulse buy customers who simply walk in from time to time but who never purchase much when there. And the staff of that store would get to know and they would remember their best customers and act accordingly.

Online, and particularly the advent of social media and online review sites changes everything. True, with database-driven customer relations management and sales software, any employee should, at least in principle be able to see any given customer’s entire shopping history with their online store. But no customer can now be afforded anything less than the absolute best in customer care and attentiveness. Social media and online reviews as the great equalizer, and both for the individual customer and for what would traditionally be seen as more minor target market demographics – a bad review is a bad review is a bad review. Samuel Colt is famously credited as having said that his company’s six shot revolver was the great equalizer and perhaps it was in its day. A physically smaller and weaker man might be faster and more accurate when shooting one. Yelp and its fellow customer experience review sites are the great equalizer here, as even the largest, strongest store or other online business does not automatically know how effectively or frequently that occasional or first time visitor writes, and to the best-read and most-followed review sites.

I include this posting in both Business Strategy and Operations and in Social Networking and Business for a simple reason. Online in general with its potentially global marketplace reach, and online social media and crowd sourced review sites compel a reconsideration of customers and the customer experience that a business offers. And it brings into question that word, “offers” as the customer experience becomes much more a two-way, collaborative effort than something that an actively involved business simply provides to a passively receiving customer base.

• Yes, businesses can still effectively offer premium services as an explicit part of a higher end purchase package. But it is increasingly important that every customer be listened to and followed through on and with care – there are no minor or lower value customers anymore.
• And that means bringing the customer experience into every phase and aspect of the business that the customer in any significant way connects to or relies on when attempting to do business with you.
• That means making the customer experience a part of your business’ core competency and seeing it as an area of your business where you should be looking for opportunities to create unique value propositions.

Look at the world as if from inside the skin and through the eyes and ears of your customers.

• Continually review your processes and practices, and your operations in terms of how they enrich, are neutral with respect to, or limiting of the customer experience – as your customers and potential customers would view things.
• Look to find cost-effective ways to improve the customer experience, and through that your strength of brand and overall market share.
• And really listen to the marketplace and to those review sites and to other online social media information markets so you know and understand what your customers and potential customers are saying about you – and about your competition as well.
• In that, learn from the customer-perceived miss-steps that your competition makes as a road map for doing better, instead of simply reactively responding to any negative messages out there about your business.
• And of course follow and build on the basis of the positive messages out there too – either way, be proactive.

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