Isn’t it ironic that in the age of brands, so many businesses struggle to have a voice, or any distinguishing features for that matter? Just some 100 years ago, everyone knew that Joe had the best Cuban cigars (due to his connections at the airport) and that Mary baked outstanding croissants, thanks to the recipe her half-French grandma taught her. Today, we live in an app-ified Starbucks era, where solutions are standardized, and genuine uniqueness is rare.
That’s not to say standardization doesn’t benefit the end consumer. I, myself, will choose a Costa Coffee over some romantic local corner coffee shop in nine cases out of ten, just because it’s a brand I know and a service I’m familiar with. Nine out of ten is roughly the proportion of consumer decisions when convenience and foreknowledge beat adventure.
In terms of growing your company, the monotonous, standardized marketplace of today is not the best environment to fulfill your goals. How do you stand out in a market where everyone blends in?
The answer is simple: you don’t. The competitive advantage in 2018 lies not in differentiation, but potency. It is not enough to be different; to dominate your market in Springfield, you actually have to be better.
What Really Matters to Customers in the 21st Century?
The 20th century introduced a lot of revolutionary innovation to the world. Automobiles and computers have gone from highly specified tools to widespread, everyday products.
Malls, microwaves, TVs—the world as we know it was largely shaped by the innovations of the past century.
In an environment as turbulent as that, where one new product or service is quickly replaced by a newer one, the customers don’t always think about stuff like customer experience—more often than not, whoever has that new shiny TV in their storefront will make the sale.
The 21st century, although full of hype and shiny new tech, hasn’t even come close to the level of innovation of the past 100 years. Our phones got smarter; our cars got faster. But other than that? Nothing’s really changed much.
In slower periods—where businesses don’t boil the ocean trying to find the next big thing every month—secondary criteria start gaining importance. Criteria like location, price, and customer experience.
In fact, most markets today are dominated by similar products and services, which makes customer experience one of the few differentiating factors available to business owners. Here are a few reassuring facts:
- According to a report by Walker, customer support will become more important for buyers than price or product.
- A different report by Gartner states that up to 89% of businesses compete through customer experience.
- Accenture has found that companies in the U.S. lose around $1.6 trillion due to customers switching to competitors after receiving bad customer service.
What does this have to do with I.T.? Let me explain.
I.T. as the Customer Experience Supercharger
To understand the importance of I.T. solutions in delivering the best possible customer outcomes, we must first look at how customer outcomes are created.
Let’s zoom in on a classic cliché: customer experience is synonymous to customer support. Well, if that were the case, then, congratulations, the person with the Bluetooth headphone at your company is the single most important factor in growing your market share. You’ve cracked the key to dominating your market in Springfield. All you need to do is to hire more, better customer support specialists.
No, it’s not that simple, you’re probably thinking. Well, let’s follow that train of thought.
The quality of the customer experience “Jim the Customer Success Manager” provides is 99% reliant on the following factors:
- His sales department’s communication scripts.
- His manager’s ability to explain the procedures and different scenarios.
- His HR manager’s ability to recognize if Jim is fit for the job.
- His company’s motivational system. (Is Jim motivated to deliver the best customer experience he possibly can, or is he just “doing his job”?)
- His company’s organizational culture. (Is it a genuinely pleasant and secure place to work, or is it a low-energy call-response-factory?)
- And so on, and so on, and so on.
The other 1%? That’s Jim’s personal contribution to the job. The “talent.” The “initiative.”
Now, we’ve painted a picture of how much teamwork needs to happen in order for Jim the Customer Success Manager to create a positive, market-leading customer experience over the phone. Imagine if:
- Jim’s computer has frozen. He can’t access his communication scripts and has to improvise.
- Jim’s manager is on a business trip and doesn’t have the tools to provide the training remotely.
- Jim’s HR manager uses outdated and inaccurate talent-discovery systems and doesn’t notice that Jim was fired from a restaurant due to a temper issue with a customer.
- Jim’s company doesn’t have a centralized network, so Jim doesn’t really know how the motivational system works.
- Due to a lack of digital systems, Jim’s company culture is really messy, which frequently makes him forget the customer’s name.
See what I’m getting at? And those some of the less obvious examples of how I.T. plays a crucial role in building customer experiences. Think about all of the plain-and-simple connection issues, incorrect emails and other customer service blunders that can completely ruin customer experience.
But that’s just Jim the customer service guy. Customer journey starts when the customer first sees your ad and ends only when (if) they stop buying from you. In the big picture of customer experience, investing in customer support is nothing but putting a check mark in a long list of empty boxes.
For some companies, the simplified customer journey looks something like this:
- The person sees an ad or gets a recommendation.
- The customer calls your business or visits your office/store.
- The person orders a product/service.
- The person receives the product/service right away. Or.
- The person waits for the delivery.
- The service/product is delivered.
If you’d like to learn more about how better I.T. can help you save money, increase profits, and reach your corporate goals, let’s talk. Just give us a call at 844-44-JMARK, send an email to [email protected], or drop us a line through the Contact Us page of this website. We want to hear your needs and your story, truly.