You may not have noticed it. It happened slowly, subtly. Then, everywhere you turn, people are talking and writing about it.
We entered the Customer Experience (CX) era. Think about it. Before the internet, the voice of the customer (VOC) was muffled. We sent letters directly to the company or indirectly through surveys from companies like Consumer Reports. The revolution and evolution of social media created new avenues for us as consumers and customers to talk about our experiences.
Now we have websites that want us to complain. Here is one for you, www.[putvendorhere]sucks.com. Or we use Twitter, Facebook, or other connected sites to share our feelings.
Many large companies now have departments monitoring social sites so they can answer or respond to any negative comments made about them on the internet.
So how do you manage your business’s online image?
The better question to ask is “do you care?” Brand and brand image is the bedrock of marketing. If you can solidify your company’s name with a positive impression, you can charge more for your products and services. 86% of people surveyed said they would pay 10-15% more for a positive customer experience (for more information about transforming customer interactions into customer intelligence, view my on-demand webcast on the topic).
Some of the companies that come to mind are Disney, Apple, and Starbucks. How much money did you spend for your family to visit Walt Disney World, or at your latest visit to a Disney store? What about your latest purchase of an iPhone, Mac, or iPad? Did you haggle over the price? And, consider the money we are willing to spend for a triple venti nonfat mocha latte.
If you are a believer in the power that a brand and a brand image brings and are looking for ways to improve yours, here are a few things to consider:
- Improve Your Service – most companies are not even average in their execution of customer service and support. Be mindful and reward your employees for exceptional customer service. Problems happen. It is how we own up to the problems and deal with them that improves our service and thus our customer experience and thus our brand image. Customer service is not just after the sale. It is all things leading up to the sale and all things after the sale.
- Manage Your Culture – if you do not manage the culture of your company, the culture you end up with will hinder your growth and profitability. Culture is like a garden. A garden needs quality soil in which to grow healthy plants. The plants need attention to see if they receive the right amount of light, water, and nutrients. You also eliminate any weeds, insects, and animals to protect the growing plants. Your culture operates the same way. Willful attention or neglect are your only options.
- Know Your “Why” – many companies focus their attention on how they deliver their service or produce their product. Very few share the “why” they are in business with their customers. If they do, it is a worn out slogan lifted from the lines of an outdated mission statement. How can you hone in on your “why” if you do not think you have one? Ask yourself:
- What does success mean to us as a company?
- What difference is our company making for the people we do business with?
- What does your customers say about your company and why they like doing business with you?
Welcome to the new era of Customer Experience. It is great to be here, and there is no turning back.