I read an article recently, “Four Outside-the-Box Ideas to Better Understand Customer Experience” by Linda Ireland. In it, Linda suggests four simple tactics C-level leaders can use to better understand the overall experience a customer is having with their services or products.
Noticing the “tipping points” in a customer’s experience was one such tactic. Linda mentioned that there are moments, or tipping points, that can make or break your customer’s experience with your brand. While I agree with the premise – you only get one chance to make a first impression – I don’t think you can always accurately predict which specific impression will prove to be the catalyst that will negatively or positively affect your customer’s experience. Just like no two people are alike, nor will those two people experience your services or your products alike. Moreover, the experience they have with your brand can be so multifaceted that pinning it down to one or two difference-maker moments can be extremely challenging.
For example, let’s say the person your company hired to deliver exceptional service at the front desk of your hotel is having a bad day and their attitude spills over and negatively impacts the perception your customer has of your brand. In that situation it might not matter how much you invested into what you thought might act as the positive tipping point, Ireland’s example being the Heavenly Westin Bed – simply because part of the experience fell down that guest may never book another night with you.
Ireland is correct in that “tipping point moments seem to have a halo effect on everything else. And if you get them wrong, you’re forever climbing out of a big hole of negative customer perceptions.” Again though, finding the ONE tipping point for your customer base isn’t so realistic. What’s the secret to success then? You have to get it right, the first time, across every touch point, because you simply don’t know what will have the most impact on which customer.
Take Apple or Zappos. To me, they are near flawless examples of delivering on their brand promise to customers at every touch point. Apple is always on the forefront of technology and makes everything intuitive and easy. This is even demonstrated at the store-level where Apple was one of the first companies to check customers out via an iPhone instead of at the register. Everything they do epitomizes ease, and there is not one part of their experience that they leave to chance. Along the same lines, Zappos makes it effortless to browse, purchase, quickly receive your purchase and make returns. I have yet to run into any obstacle at any point during my Zappos experience.
To me understanding your customer’s experience means understanding their holistic experience from every possible angle. For C-level leaders, solidifying a great experience means identifying every touch point and ensuring sure it is flawless. Your company is often given just one shot, for better or worse, to make a first impression. Full proofing everything within your control so it’s consistent and positive is the only way to get it right.