Customer Experience is one of the least understood aspects of delivering an excellent product. For many businesses customer experience is equivalent to customer service, where the customer only calls when there’s a problem. Think Lily Tomlin managing the phone line switches in small town America. This one engagement is designed around resolving a problem quickly so the service agent can get the customer off the phone and on to the next call. Many businesses have implemented chat technology on their website. This allows their service agents to manage multiple issues at one time and keep from spending too much time on that one chatty customer.

Customer service should be just one aspect of the customer’s experience with your business, and it should be an opportunity for deeper engagement. After all, the Maytag repairman phenomenon still holds: If you solve a customer’s problem and solve it well, your business will stand out in that customer’s mind more than for a customer who never encountered an issue. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. If you delight your customer at each engagement, whether it’s discovering what you can offer them or getting your solution in their hands, you stand a better chance of being memorable and valuable to them.

Develop Empathy for Your Customer

How to do this? Start with empathy, which provides the gateway to an emotional connection to your customer. What is hard about what they are trying to do? Besides a functional measure of success – they completed their task – what is an emotional measure of success for your customer?

For example, a local hardware store might sell to weekend fixer-uppers, but want to expand to local contractors. While the fixer-uppers’ emotional measure of success might be pride in completing the task, the local contractors want to demonstrate good craftsmanship in their work – a job done right.

Customer Experience

The local hardware store could start stocking products that appeal to skilled workers, perhaps offering workshops that help local contractors showcase their work. Here are some ways the hardware store can make an emotional connection with contractors as they “hire” the store to help them complete their jobs:

  1. Create a contractor-specific web page that focuses on craftsmanship, and showcases a few case studies of other similar jobs.
  2. Offer a workshop for how contractors can easily create their own web page to demonstrate their work, perhaps partnering with other local resources to help them set it up.
  3. Create a space in the store specifically for contractors that connects to the contractor-specific web page, displaying the products that were used in the case studies you presented and linking to the contractor’s showcase web pages.
  4. Offer a payment plan for the craftsman tools that connects to when the contractor could see a return on investment in demonstrating their work.
  5. Spend time listening to contractors as they come in your store. What is missing for them? What keeps them up at night? Perhaps shadow them on a job or listen as they talk about their work to their customers.
  6. Iterate steps 1 – 4 based on what you hear, with a goal of continuing to add to their success metric of showcasing their craft.

Start Small

While this process may seem overwhelming, the point is to start with something small that can offer a complete journey for your customer. Many businesses will put a lot of effort into one aspect of the solution, ignoring the rest of the journey. The result is that the customer feels let down. For our hardware store, they can start by focusing on one type of contractor job, and provide a complete connected experience for just that job. Because of their focus, the store will really connect with that customer and can build on that connection to reach contractors with other types of jobs.

Got questions about building a better customer experience? Send me an email and I’d be happy to brainstorm with you.

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