Brilliant Customer Experiences: 7 Things Your Customers Want, Expect & Deserve

by Jim Alexander, Founder - Alexander Consulting

Published on: 04/19/2017
The customer experience is the customer’s key player’s perception of a supplier’s performance, including activities that do not directly touch the key player but that affect her overall view of the supplier. Like customer success, customer experience is personal. Let’s start this conversation by looking at what you need to do to deliver on the seven things that your customers want, expect, and deserve.
Brilliant CS Requires Brilliant Customer Experience
 
Brilliant Customer Experiences: The Seven Things Your Customers Want, Expect, and Deserve1
 
1. Deliver on the promise.
As cowboys in the Old West movies often stated, “Your word is your bond.” The customer wants, expects, and deserves that you do what you said you will do, when, where, and how it was promised. Your reliability and credibility are on the line. So slow down, think, explore, confirm, check, and think again before you make a commitment. Remember that delivering customer success is a team event, and you have many cooks making the customer stew. Everyone needs to embrace and live by this principle.
 
2. Transparency.
Nobody likes surprises, especially when addressing important issues. Neglecting to discuss a few items that the customer may not like, or allowing your lawyers to put in pages of non-customer-friendly fine print in a contract that negates what the customer thinks or what your commitment states are not best practices! Be crystal-clear about what will happen, what won’t happen, and what might happen. Act like a trusted advisor and share the whole picture—explain the bad along with the good. And, of course, don’t lie (what would your grandmother think?). Besides, people always find out, and people never forget.
 
3. No hassle.
Your customers should not dread the thought of attempting to get what they want from your organization, and then agonize and struggle to get it. Waiting on hold forever while a recording keeps repeating how important they are, asking them to provide information that your company should already have or that is irrelevant, and not being able to communicate with competent people all take a toll on the customer—one they should not have to pay. Let them communicate with you how they want to communicate with you. Make it easy to buy, easy to access information, and easy to get service and support.
 
4. Responsiveness.
Customers want fast reactions to inquiries and timely resolution of issues. Is that too much to ask?
 
5. Evidence you care.
Customers are much more understanding of your situation and your feelings when they believe you understand their situation and care about their feelings. So stop, listen, and empathize with the customer before moving on to business. Evidencing you care is especially vital when you mess up and the customer knows you messed up. They want to know why things went south, what you are going to do about it, and they expect (and deserve) an apology. Man up when you mess up, and fix the customer first.
 
6. Fairness.
Most customers have a realistic understanding of what fairness is in any situation. Most don’t expect “Wow!” experiences, nor do they want their socks blown off. Ninety-eight percent of customers do not try to take advantage of suppliers who they perceive are trying to act fairly. Don’t let your legal or financial people skew your practices and policies to protect against the 2 percent of customers who are the bad eggs. Empower your frontline personnel to do what is right.
 
7. Control.
Customers often feel that once they sign on with a supplier, they have little choice as to what will happen and how it will happen. Resentment builds when the supplier drives the car and appears to ignore the customer sitting in the backseat. Customers want to control the supplier-customer relationship—control in how they buy, control in getting information, and control when getting service. So don’t dictate that the customer follow your agenda; always give customers choices when decisions are required.
 
OK, the above is not hard to understand. I bet it is exactly what you want, expect, and feel you deserve when you are in the role of customer.
 
Below are the “Super 7” in an assessment format. It can be a simple yet powerful tool to get the attention of the nonbelievers in your organization. You have my permission to copy and to use this tool.

 

The 7 Things Your Customer Want, Expect, and Deserve

 

      Never                              Always          

1. Deliver on the promise

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

2. Transparency

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

3. No hassle

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

4. Responsiveness 

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

5. Evidence you care

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

6. Fairness

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

7. Control

     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

 

What Does the Customer Get?

Now that we know the universal seven things that all customers want, expect, and deserve, how does your organization measure up? Chances are high that your organization’s overall customer experience is worse than you think. For example, while 80 percent of executives in a recent study proclaimed their organizations deliver excellent customer experiences, when the customers of these executives were asked, only 8 percent said they received an excellent customer experience2…isn’t it scary that so many senior managers live in La-La Land? Is customer experience fairy dust sprinkled in your boardroom?
 

The Implications of Poor Customer Experiences3

Like spilling red wine on the Queen’s new carpet, the implications of poor customer experiences can be huge, both outside and inside the organization.

Outside the organization:

  • Disloyalty. A negative customer experience reduces customer loyalty by an average of 20 percent.

  • Lost customers. Normally, half of all customer attrition is voluntary and due to poor customer experiences.

  • Brand damage. There is a much higher probability of bad press, law suits, and negative word of mouth when customers have bad experiences.

  • Pricing pressure. Customer sensitivity to price increases significantly when problems occur, often doubling on the initial occurrence and doubling again with multiple problem occurrences.

Inside the organization:

  • Wasted effort. Most companies could prevent 30 percent of service contacts with better communication up front.

  • Lower employee morale. Your employees don’t like working for a loser. When your organization does stupid or irrational things it impacts their mindset and their actions.

Customer Experience Realities4

Below are the most important realities of customer experience management:

  1. It is highly likely that your customers’ experiences are needlessly leaving huge amounts of money on the table.

  2. Service does not own the customer experience. Support does not own it. Sales does not own it. Everyone owns it.

  3. Understanding and then setting, resetting, managing, and meeting customer expectations is much harder to do than most people think.

  4. Employees do not cause most customer dissatisfaction, your processes and your procedures are the biggest culprits.

  5. No news is usually bad news; a company receiving few complaints is not always delivering a great customer experience. Only one-third and, more likely, one-twelfth of customers call the company about a problem.

  6. Technology has changed what customers expect from a company and how the company delivers the customer experience.

  7. Comparing yourself to best-in-class organizations is no longer enough. Customers compare their experience with you against the best experiences they have ever had. Hence, “best practices” make sense to measure your customer success performance against when you are just starting, but “distinguishing practices” should be your guide as you mature.

  8. It is a fact that good service does not necessarily equate to a great overall customer experience. Often the customer correctly feels that the problem should never have occurred in the first place.

  9. Customers are willing to forgive manufacturing or operational mistakes, but they will not forgive being intentionally misled. It is not in the DNA of the sales and marketing departments to set proper expectations. They tend to stress the positive attributes of the product and deemphasize (or totally ignore) its limitations and weaknesses. When the sales or marketing departments fail to clearly communicate product limitations, they are creating dissatisfaction of the worst kind.

Delivering on the customer experience is a requirement for customer success. Use the “Seven Things Your Customers Want, Expect, and Deserve” to evaluate and enhance your customer performance.

References

  1. Alexander, James A., EdD. January 26, 2015. “Brilliant CX: The 7 Things Your Customers Want, Expect, and Deserve.” LinkedIn Blog.
  2. Goodman, John. 2014. Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service. New York:AMACOM.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

About the Author

James “Alex” Alexander is founder of Alexander Consulting, a management consultancy that helps product companies build brilliant services. Contact him at 239-671-0740, alex@alexanderstrategists.com. For complimentary information on CX and CS and valuable resources to speed your journey to brilliant customer success, visit brilliantcustomersuccess.com. And don’t forget to sign up for Alex’s newsletter, Alexander Insights.

Note: This article was adapted from Alex’s new book Brilliant Customer Success: Managing the Customer Experience for Profitable Growth and Brand Dominance. For more information on doing the customer experience right, order your copy today from Amazon.