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American Marketing Association Philadelphia - Answers in Action™

The Right Ingredients for a Superior Customer Experience

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Customers gravitate to brands that they can trust for good value, great quality and an ideal experience. The environment is ripe for disruptors that can demonstrate—through actions, not words—an insatiable focus on the customer, so ask yourself, Does our brand experience attract customers and earn their loyalty?

The challenge for most marketers is that there’s no single recipe for a superior customer experience. Experience, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Can your organization create the systems and infrastructure that enable your customers to personalize their own experiences? And can you build this model without sacrificing profits? It’s possible if you can uncover the often hidden sources of value that drive an exceptional, differentiated customer experience.

What defines good and bad experience for your customers? Our perspective of the brands that we interact with—in both our personal and professional lives—usually is formed by five core attributes. Together, these elements define customer experience:

1. The quality of products or services and the value that we receive from them

2. The support that we get before, during and after a purchase or other transaction

3. The convenience in interacting with the brand

4. How the brand presents itself to its customers

5. The community that exists in and around the brand

While delivering a fully personalized experience to each and every customer is an unrealistic goal, it is possible to define unique experiences for your most important customer segments—those who create the most value for your business—while giving them the tools or functionality to further personalize their interactions with your brand and create a distinctly personal experience.

Building More “Bliss Points”

This approach might sound a bit esoteric, but there’s a real science to getting it right. One way to create more relevant experiences is to examine those five attributes across each of your most important customer segments. Assigning rankings to each will help identify the features that each segment values the most.

The goal is to create more “bliss points,” experiences that stand out in a customer’s mind, while minimizing the pain points. Some fixes will be obvious—for example, instructing the receptionist in a physician’s waiting room to make eye contact with patients as they check in. Others are more subtle and often more complex, requiring operational realignment or restructuring, or broader cultural change throughout an organization.

You can’t turn every interaction into a bliss point, and you can’t deliver an experience that every customer segment will love. Attempting either could quickly suck the profits out of your business. Instead, customer experience efforts need to be flexible for customers but scalable enough to make economic sense.

Understanding the ingredients that customers value most will help prioritize investments. Equally important is an understanding of the customer segments that provide the most value back to the business. For example, it might seem logical to extend a successful rewards program to a larger segment of customers. (More members and more participation equals more revenue, right?) But what if expanding the program destroys value from the existing rewards club members, who just happen to be your highest-paying customers? In that case, you may consider limiting membership to maintain the exclusive feel of the club and maximize engagement with your most valuable segment.

Focus on the bliss points that provide the greatest customer value relative to your own strategic objectives and their impact on revenue and profitability. Finding the right mix of ingredients will help you discover new recipes for driving sustainable growth. 

Rik Reppe is an advisory principal in the Minneapolis office of New York-based professional services consultancy PwC.

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