How Much Do You ‘Care’ in a Digital World
There are only two constants in the world. The first one is constant change. This idea that you, I, and the world are changing every moment. The second constant is man’s search for happiness, respect, and love.
It is no longer enough for organizations to sell a product or service; they need to win the client’s heart. Consumers are demanding more… they want to be part of something greater than just buying a product or a service. They want to buy from an organization that is honest, loyal, trustworthy, and caring. How do we share these human emotions in a digital world? It may sound bizarre, but the simple human act of caring can be a huge competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
If you want a successful online business these days, it’s not enough to simply close the sale. You’ve got to help your customers fall in love with the way you do your business. I live in a small town called Trumbull, CT where there is little other than trees, houses, schools, and kids. There is a special store in town called Gaetano's Deli, which is located way off the main street and has limited parking. However, no matter the time of day, the line is out of the door. Gaetano’s is not selling anything different than any other deli in the world but you have to realize people are not there just for the food, they are there for the “love”. The team behind the counter are funny, super nice, carefree, and fun. They know your name and understand what you want. It is a place where everyone belongs, everyone is someone and the hero and cold cuts are the added benefit. This is a world class caring/ loving customer experience… now how do we bring this to our customer’s digital world and enhance it?
THINK LIKE THE CUSTOMER
Customer experience really boils down to the perception the customer has of your brand. You may think your brand and customer experience is the best in class but if the customer perceives it differently, you need to work on improving and enhancing it. Listen to your customers well. It is what the customer thinks, feels, and believes that matters. Companies need to make the customers ‘feel’ they are being cared for. Seek out “truth” tellers in the client’s organization - leaders who are open and honest and tell you what you are doing well, what you “stink” at, and where you need to improve. The truth may hurt, but it will save your business and help you grow.
Another way of obtaining honest feedback from your customers is to develop customer surveys that are short, simple and provide an incentive. “Cranky customers” may be hard to deal with, but they are a great source of truth to identify customer experience areas that need improvement.
Here are a few things that can help drive positive customer perception - don’t make false or inflated promises, and communicate quickly, clearly and frequently. Never get complacent, and always keep pushing forward with new ideas, suggestions, and innovations to engage clients.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Make it and keep it simple. Simplicity starts with a clean, clear, and intuitive design that requires few mouse clicks or screen touches to meet the needs of the customer. The main functionalities are easy to find and well explained. The language is concise, simple, and easy to understand. Apple offers a wide range of products aimed at different customers, but its product information and support websites use a very clean, pared-down design with key information presented clearly and additional detail available with a minimum number of clicks. In financial services, companies such as PayPal have dramatically simplified online payments, in many cases requiring only the recipient’s email address or mobile phone number as identification. These organizations show they care for their customers by making it easy for them to transact, and saving them precious time. Caring/ loving makes great business sense.
SEDUCE YOUR CUSTOMER
Enticing your customers to fall in love with your products and services is not unlike a romantic seduction. The art of seduction requires careful planning, skill and understanding. We need to help our clients understand who their ideal customers are. If you want to give your customers and prospects what they want most, you have to first find out what they want, when they want it, at what price point and on what channel, and then give it to them at the right time with the right message. This is where data and data analytics are critical for romancing the customer. Leveraging the power of data using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and client customer information, we can build an accurate profile of the desires of our customers before they ask for what they want. I call this the “mom effort”. Every mom knows what her children want for their birthdays… kids don’t have to ask or say anything... mom just knows on the day of the birthday the gift they receive from mom is the one they always wanted. It becomes important to understand the mind of our client’s customers as thoroughly as possible and to deliver what they need and desire most in as seamless a way as possible. The more detailed and data-driven the customer profiles, the more useful they are for engaging them.
Exceeding customer expectations was the foundation of GE-Money’s 6 Sigma training. An organization exists to make a profit. However, every now and then it doesn't hurt to show a little love and offer something extra as part of the digital experience (waive a fee, offer a discount, or give the product away free) without your client having to ask. The critical point is to delight and surprise your clients with unexpected and unprecedented service all the time, every time.
RECIPROCATE YOUR CUSTOMER’S LOVE
There are many ways to show our love in the real world - through a hug, a kiss, flowers, a message - but how do customers show their love for your product or service in a digital world? In the digital world, the greatest proof of organizational love is the customers who keep coming back. Another sign is when customers showcase their love of your product and service on social media (FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogs) and yet another is positive word of mouth. All of these activities need to be captured, monitored and studied in the digital customer journey to understand who the customers are and what they expect from the organization.
All organizations are driven by new opportunities and profitability, but finally it is the quality of human to human interaction that determines their fate. We may adopt all the latest technologies in the world and be the smartest with our business strategies but unless we are driven by human values like care and empathy, we shall fail to make a connect with our customers. And without happy, profitable, growing customers, our businesses mean nothing.