What’s the Bottom Line for Customer Experience? Can the Investment Pay Back?

What’s the Bottom Line for Customer Experience? Can the Investment Pay Back?
July 30, 2009 Vivian Hairston Blade
customer Bottom line

More than a ‘Happy’ Meal!

I recently ordered food via the drive thru at a local fast food restaurant.  Though I don’t go there often, it’s not the first time I’ve ordered at this restaurant’s drive thru – or at many others for that matter. But this time, it was different.  I thought to myself, “Is this just a fluke, or are they really trying to be better?”  I even started to ask for the manager to compliment the employees, but decided not to hold up the cars behind me.  Besides, I wanted to see if happens the next time I go there.

OK, so what happened that caught my attention?  After paying for my order at the first window, the cashier actually SMILED at me when she said “Have a good day!”  Then, at the second window when I picked up my food, the server also SMILED at me when she said “Have a good day!”  (They hadn’t smiled at me like this before and yet, I believed they meant it.)  Plus, they completed my order quickly and correctly.  Was this part of their new customer service program?  Was I today’s ‘lucky’ customer?  Or did they somehow know that the ‘customer experience’ lady was at the window?

Nailing the “Moments of Truth”

Regardless, I noticed and it changed my attitude about the restaurant.  I also wondered if this restaurant chain was finally realizing that extraordinary customer service and customer experience keep customers returning while directly impacting the bottom line.

This interaction was a “moment of truth” delivered right at the front line.  The attitudes, efficiency and accuracy told me that they appreciate my business and want me to come back again.  Certainly, I’m now more likely to return, and, as I’m doing now, more likely to tell others about this low-cost, yet highly-effective occurrence.  Even more so, this experience increases the overall VALUE I felt I received for the time and money spent at this restaurant.  A $20 bill means something in today’s economy (especially for fast food.)

These Warning Signs May Be Trying to Tell You Something!

What if we turned the mirror to reflect on your business?  What impression do you leave with your customers upon each interaction?  What VALUE do they feel they receive for the time and money invested in your products and services?  What do your customers really think about you?  What are they really saying about you?

Have you really stopped to look at the dynamics around these questions?

Let’s consider some symptoms that may be trying to tell you something:

  • Are you finding it tough to retain current customers?
  • How many customers do NOT repurchase or even consider you again? – How much are those defections WORTH?
  • Are you spending more on new customer acquisition?
  • How strong (or weak) is your share within each key market segment?
  • Do you command a smaller share of wallet than your competition with important customers?
  • Is your value proposition no longer meaningful?
  • Is your industry experiencing commoditization?   Do you find yourself caught in this trap?
  • Are you experiencing a drain on your revenue?

Do the answers to these questions concern you?   Do your results seem to be going in the wrong direction?  If so, serious consequences are ahead.

An Opportunity to Reverse the Trend

How do you change the dynamics of what seems like an inevitable situation, especially in a down economy when customers are spending less and cost containment is paramount?

What if you had the control to change the trend right in the palm of your hand?   The good news is – YOU DO!

The answer is in the VALUE your customers believe they get in return for their investment. VALUE is about how you make your customers feel as you contribute to their success or meet their needs.  Don’t forget that customers (not you) define VALUE and expect you to deliver VALUE in order to meet their fundamental expectations if the business relationship is to continue.

In a recent article on Forbes.comDonovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council writes, “Most marketers and corporations are now looking to reduce costs in order to improve the bottom line.  While they do, it will be important to remember the favorable economics of keeping and growing customers vs. finding new ones.”

5 VALUE Creating ImperativesTM: Your Tools for Customer Retention & Growth

Your tools for effectively and efficiently maintaining and growing your customer base in this tougher environment are the 5 VALUE Creating ImperativesTM.  These are critical to understanding your customer needs and delivering an exceptional, value-creating customer experience.

Below is a brief description of each of the 5 VALUE Creating ImperativesTM.  These should challenge your current thinking and the way you serve your customers.

– Voice – Give your customers one.  Be disciplined about consistently and openly      listening to their challenges and needs.

A – Accountability – Hold leaders accountable for customer voice and for action that responds to customer voice.

L – Levers – What is most important to your customers in how you help them succeed?  How do they depend on you?  What delivers VALUE in the relationship?

U – Unbelievable Experiences – Create experiences that surprise and elate your customers. Focus on those levers that drive your customers’ success and relationships.

E – Engage & Empower – Customers and employees are your two most important assets. Engage both and Empower employees to successfully deliver customer value.

How well do you execute in each of these areas?  How much VALUE do your customers really get from you?  How do you deliver the customer experience at each interaction?

Your Bottom-Line Solution

Each of these 5 VALUE Creating ImperativesTM requires discipline in order to become part of your organization’s DNA; it is critical to your organization’s success to deliver exceptional customer experience and improve customer retention, no matter what economic environment we’re in.

Studies show that companies who integrate a customer focused DNA and develop the capability to consistently deliver VALUE beyond customer expectations at every interaction (or “moment of truth”) grow at rates that exceed industry averages.

So, I challenge you…. what could this do for your bottom line?

Vivian is a recognized expert, presenter and trainer in the areas of Customer Experience, Net Promoter ScoreTM, Change Management and Lean Six Sigma. Through her 20+ year career with Fortune 100 companies, General Electric and Humana, Inc. Vivian has extensive experience in successfully leading the development and execution of customer centered Marketing, Product Management, Quality, and Customer Experience strategies.  She has delivered outstanding business results that increased market share, generated millions in new revenue and significantly reduced operating costs.  She is a certified Lean 6 Sigma Master Black Belt and Certified Net Promoter Associate.

Contact her at vivian.blade@eiglconsulting.com or visit her website athttp://www.eiglconsulting.com/

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