Break out of the World of Sameness or Struggle….

Businesses without a Customer Focus Will Struggle.Those who think that slashing prices will ensure they survive the economic rigours of the next two years should think again.

Chris Bell Managing Director of Customer Experiences a company that specialises in developing high quality customer experiences said organisations who concentrate on making sure their customers consistently receive a great experience will do much better than those that are focused only on price as their competitive advantage.

In a recent global survey carried out by U.S management consultancy Accenture, 47% of respondents said their service expectations were met only sometimes, rarely or never.

Bell said he has also observed very little overall improvement in customer service during the last 12 months which is surprising in a highly competitive environment

While chief executives understand the need for a cohesive customer service package, many do not know how to go about making changes.Bell said that in his work with businesses, he has found that they do not lack intention or initiative but they sometimes expect a quick fix. This result in a focus that only lasts a short period and is never embraced as a full operational strategy.Time after time organisations readily tout “going the extra mile” to “total customer commitment” they detail their intentions in brochures and advertising but customers have heard it all before.

Bell said there is little that distinguishes any business these days- they all have similar products or services on offer and prices are sharper than ever. Few stand out as creating great experiences for their customers- the norm is frustration.

New Zealand businesses wanting to implement a customer centric culture into their organisations will need to look closely at their leadership style and the resulting culture, if they are going to achieve their goal of a better experience for both their people and customers.Bell said the truth is customer loyalty is mainly about feelings and emotion. It’s not about price.

And don’t confuse customer satisfaction with loyalty. Many companies count on customer satisfaction as a guarantee to future success. But they are becoming increasingly disappointed to find satisfied customers may shop elsewhere without a moment’s hesitation.

Loyalty cards don’t create loyalty. They may entice customers back, but this is only to get a cheaper price or collect points for a future discount, not because customers are emotionally attached to the business.

Most unhappy customers won’t complain directly to a business but will complain to just about everyone else they know, and take their business to a competitor next time. Bell said that businesses must understand the damage negative word of mouth can do to a business, especially now with social media. On the other hand positive customer word of mouth is today’s most powerful advertising.

Business is starting to realise that in a world of excess, uniformity and repetition, people buy experiences, not products or services. When people feel good about their experience they will not only return, they will tell their friends. To turn a financial exchange into a rewarding experience, businesses have to be creative and they have to be fully committed to seeing the world through their customers’ eyes.

Chris Bell is managing director of Customer Experiences, a company that specialises in helping businesses improve the way in which they interact with customers and clients- chris@customerexperiences.co.nz www.customerexperiences.co.nz