Good is no longer good enough! It seems it was only yesterday that every business claimed the key to winning customers was the quality of product or service they deliver. Here at Melink, we’re changing the game to focus on the customer experience! According to a Walker study, by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. So, what is customer experience you ask? Customer experience is your customers’ perception of how the company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings, and may drive their loyalty. In other words, if they like you and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you and recommend you to the others. With customer experience being the new battlefield, companies are changing their approach, offerings, and business practices. Sales teams are working harder to learn their customers and their customer’s business, so they can create the “wow”. Hotel managers, restaurant chains, and even doctors’ offices are focused on creating an experience that knocks their customers socks off, instead of just standard practices.
These days, social media gives the consumer a lot of power and impact. There’s an instant feedback loop and the cluster of data starts to create the company’s reputation. For example, if you get on Amazon to buy a new bike for your son, you’re likely going to check the performance stars and the customer reviews. Any of those reviews can be the difference between you purchasing that bike and moving on to a different bike. If you’re looking for a surgeon and every website has them at 3 out of 5 stars, you’re likely going to move on to the next guy. He may be the best surgeon in the land, but his rude receptionist and office staff have poor bedside manner and make people miserable when they go in to see him. If you go to a fast-food burger joint, how likely is it that you’re going to write a positive Yelp review if you pull up to the drive thru, order your food, pay the correct amount, get the correct change and correct order, and you leave in a timely manner? Probably never! They didn’t go above and beyond and create the “wow”! If you want to improve the customer experience, there must be a “wow”! Recently I went through a drive thru myself and was caught off guard with my experience. When I pulled up it was raining. Normally I would get soaked reaching out to hand over the money. This time the cashier stuck an umbrella out the window, so I wouldn’t get drenched. Super small, super easy, but I was impressed! I’ve never seen it before in my time on this earth and he was focused on my experience! I did write a review and I tipped a drive-thru cashier for the first time!
Millennials are changing the game and companies need to embrace it. Sure, the entitlement is out of control, but the business practice changes are not all bad. If you’re focusing only on your product or service and not how your customer feels about the entire experience, you’re in trouble! Some of the large hotel companies are incentivizing their General Managers on customer experience and guest loyalty. The baby-boomers want to talk, interact, have face-to-face experiences with nice people. The millennials want to check-in swiftly to the hotel with no hiccups and have issues resolved quickly. Management needs to address all their consumer personas in a unique way to setup the individual customer experiences for success.
What happens if you fail to provide a positive customer experience? According to a recent study, 67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn and only 1 in 26 unhappy customers complain. That means companies not focused on the customer experience will lose customers well after it’s too late! Most of this is the result of what I refer to as “sales autopilot”. When you’re there trying to make it look like your product is perfect for them, without the data, you end up losing trust with them. Trust, brand and customer experience are all built on honesty. And honesty is knowing when your product won’t be a perfect fit for everyone. Therefore it’s so important to stop selling and start solving!
Since most companies will be expected to compete mainly on customer experience, organizations like Melink that focus on customer experience will stand out from the noise and win loyal customers over. One thing is for sure, if you want your customer to have an excellent customer experience and create a “wow” you must know your customers better than ever before! Here at Melink, my team and I are completing customer profiles and personas to improve individual experiences. Once you know your customers well enough, you can use that knowledge to personalize every interaction. Customers these days have more power and choice than ever before. Thus, we are responsible for understanding and acknowledging their needs. When people ask what we do, it shouldn’t be Test & Balance, Demand-Controlled Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV), Solar, or Geothermal, it should be creating the best customer experience in renewable and energy reduction markets for our customers!