2016 has been a levelling year for many reasons. Not withstanding the slew of ‘new’ business ideas that have demanded customer (and investors) attention, it has seen the birth and death of enterprises that could not maintain a consistent customer experience (aka CX).
Here is what we learnt (and observed) about customer experience in 2016:
1. Instafication of the CX
Customers demand experience gratification at every interaction and transaction with their brand. Customers are more likely to remember a slip in CX over an experience which was anyway ‘expected’. I am far more likely to remember that a hyperlocal grocery delivery app forgot to add eggs to my order than I am to appreciate their fancy packaging.
2. Personalize the CX
Every time I register a complaint with my telco, I (and many others like me) receive the same templatized response, which honestly I don’t care for anymore. Not only has the lack of personalized response annoyed me, but it has also eroded some trust I have placed on the telco. I’m not asking the telco to make an app for me, but I am asking their social care teams to listen to me with attention when I file a service deficiency issue!
An unrelated but a fantastic example of this is Chef Niki Nakayama of the N/Naka fame. She keeps huge dossiers on each customer, what they ordered at her restaurant every time, what they liked and disliked! And she uses this to customize their dining experience each time they come again! Exemplary!
Seems like the most obvious thing to do, but a lot of companies missed the boat on this one. Consumers have come to expect that their offline experience will be replicated online as well. Even for businesses that are purely online, a minor delta in experience can mean a loss of millions in revenue.
4. Managing CX is not one person’s responsibility
We came across many instances where the experience (or the lack of) was blamed on ‘sales’ or ‘call center’ or ‘social media intern’. Here’s the truth (again!) – customers don’t care who screwed up. If their experience was anything less than tweet worthy, you’ll make news for the wrong reasons.
5. People will share the bad stuff more
PR pundits believe ‘any publicity is good publicity’. Well maybe this was true 10 years ago. Now no publicity is a good thing because people will not hesitate to trash you at the smallest slip up.
And with weapons of mass deception like Twitter and Snapchat (and yeah Facebook too!) their voice is now louder than before.
6. Influencers cannot influence your CX
Sure you can have a pop idol talk about your product till the cows come home. But they can only help (sort of) get your name out. But only you own the CX. Everything can be outsourced except the ownership of CX.
7. Sweat the small stuff
I had to send a friend some dessert. I used Swiggy, a hyperlocal app to deliver the gift in Mumbai. The order was hardly for Rs 200 (or a little more than $3). Unfortunately, one of the desserts I’d ordered was out of stock. Not only did Swiggy call me back, but also arranged for an alternate dessert to be sent and since it was a gift, the bakery (Yes, I Dough!) waived off the charges! Will I use Swiggy again! Yes! Will I order from Yes, I Dough! again? Hell yeah! And I will tell anyone who cares to listen as well!
My friend shared this photo with me when she received her gift.
8. CX is closely tied with a story
Paperboat is one of my favourite brands when it comes to storytelling. Paperboat is a non alcoholic beverage maker who uses memories to tell their story. Every beverage of theirs has a story to tell. And this is everyone’s story. A story everyone (well almost!) can relate to. Every interaction that I have had with them has this memory aspect add subliminally. Right from their social care teams to marketing. Everyone in the Paperboat team has made this story their own.
(Full disclosure: as one of their early product testers (and tasters), I do get the occasional free beverage.)
9. A superb CX will not save a poor product
Finally, your product has to speak for itself. You can have the slickest website, superb ordering and delivery experience and fabulous after sales network. But if your product sucks, it’s not going to save you. A great CX supports a fantastic product.
Do not confuse a good CX with a good product.
2016 has been full of learnings for us from a Customer Experience perspective. What were some of your favourite CX moments in 2016?