Creating customer experiences

Happy customers are the lifeblood of any brand and in a world of peer review driven decision-making, brand advocates can be worth their weight in gold.

But to keep promoters promoting we need to provide priceless experiences; think not what your brand advocates can do for you but what you can do for them, providing customers with ‘money can’t buy’ experiences is what will get them coming back year-after-year and shouting your praises from the rooftops.

When we talk about ‘money can’t buy’ experiences, did you know that 86%* of consumers are happy to pay more for a better customer experience?  The fast-track model at theme parks and airports is testament to this, but do your ‘premium’ visitor programmes truly create memorable experiences, or memorable for the right reasons?

A memorable experience is not about taking home a questionable goody bag, it’s about experiencing something that every other Tom, Dick and Harriet can’t, for example: how many of you provide a special entrance for premium visitors? Priority/VIP parking area?  Allow early access?  Provide access to your talent pool?  VIP/Priority seating in theatres/shows?  In fact, aside from a lounge and goody bag, what memorable experiences do you offer your premium visitors?

Let’s try something.  Open-up TripAdvisor in your browser.  Choose a town, any town.  Choose restaurants.  For the moment, ignore the top ranked restaurants and instead move through to around the middle of the list, any restaurants with over 20 reviews will work.  I’ll take a bet that the majority of the feedback will be polarised, i.e. very good/excellent or poor/very poor, with very little ‘average’ response.  Is that because people don’t have average meals?  Unlikely.  It’s more to do with the human need to praise, castigate or say nothing.

Research shows that when visitors are ‘wowed’ they will promote, they’ll also ‘promote’ when they’re disappointed but the “it was OK”,  middle ground, average Jo is least likely to say/do anything as a result of their experience.

By contrast, if we look at the top ranking restaurants, they are applauded by the vast majority of their customers for the customer experience (and food) they provide and as a result, they get more customers and more positive reviewers and so on the cycle goes.

Simply put, brilliant customer experiences deliver greater advocacy, delivering greater retention, referral and recommendation and therefore delivering more customers.

However, as soon as one of those restaurants slips up, its’ reviews decline, its’ rank position reduces and all of a sudden it’s struggling.  Essentially,  a ‘brilliant customer experience’ has to be continually refreshed, renewed, updated, energised and revitalised, if the cycle of retention, referral and recommendation is to continue.  Something can be a priceless experience once but ultimately becomes just average, run of the mill or standard if it’s offered continuously over time.

Social media provides the framework for sharing, while many post great experiences on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter is quickly becoming the place to shame poor experience providers as it will often attract immediate attention, the recent Twitter outcry over changes to the National Lottery is a good example.twitter comment

Understanding what, money can’t buy or memorable experiences will warrant additional spend requires research; you need to understand the pressure points in a visiting experience and to do this you really need mystery shoppers, research observations and/or focus groups.  Zing can help you to understand how you can capitalise on customer promotion and monetise the improved customer experience.

Posted by: Lisa Holt


*Source: Forbes 2013 – Customer Experience: Is it the chicken or egg?
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