The Pulse of Great Customer Experience
The Pitfalls of Marketing Social Responsibility, Part 1 of 4

Apples, Oranges, & Other Measures of Success

Apples and Oranges

Those who are more formal about their marketing research methods may quibble that comparing online site usage metrics with telephone customer satisfaction metrics like I explored in my previous post are difficult to correlate. Apples to oranges. Somewhat reductive.

To that, I say: you don't need reams of data to make an improvement in customer experience. In most cases, there are so many interdependencies for improving a customer experiences that it helps to get a little reductive and start poking at each element individually, improving them as you go and seeing how their effects cascade down the chain.

With that in mind, I put forth the following hypothesis: managing your customer experience is like running a produce stand. I don't think it sounds too silly, if you consider the way a produce stand operates.

Each thing you sell in the stand has to look good to customers if they're going to consider making a purchase.

People generally have to be enticed into sampling your wares (trial) in order to make a purchase -- their propensity to buy increases.

There must be a consistency of quality from visit to visit. Otherwise, why would you shop there?

Upon making a purchase, the produce must hold up on the trip home and satisfy your appetite with the experience you expected. Spoilage = bad.

And, most importantly, your customers need to be continually educated about what they'll enjoy most, at the peak time of each season. In essence, this type of education reduces choice, and less choice is better customer experience -- unless you have mechanisms to help manage your options.

In short, limiting what you sell, minding the store at all times, and having a point of view that has the customer's interest in heart seem to be the three guiding principles behind most killer customer experiences. Everything else is dressing on the windows.

Imagine a world where, instead of being provided a bajillion options, you're guided through those options to what will be proper and extraordinary purchases. When queried, you need to have an opinion about what's best for customers to purchase from season to season, not that everything is always great all the time.

This may sound quasi-Communist, but really great brands create bold natural boundaries around their offerings, and with a reduced measure of choice, continue to make their customers very happy. Apple Computer, anyone?


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