Is providing a better customer experience part of your 2018 strategic plan? If so, chances are your business isn’t alone. Even so-called “experience-based” companies, like Nordstrom and Starbucks, are constantly revamping the way they care for customers. As you start planning ways in which you can offer an experience that’s both flawless and memorable, what can you learn from these customer service leaders?
Experience-based companies share four distinct traits that allow them to remain competitive and lead not only their respective markets but the customer service industry as a whole.
1. Their Reason to Exist Is Obvious
What’s your business’s reason to exist? Can you answer the question relatively simply, or are you torn between different services and products and solutions? If you’re feeling pulled in a million directions, chances are your customers are as well.
Experience-based companies have a clear reason for being a company and it is not to make money. They’ve identified a problem they can fix or a service they can provide and are firmly committed to that vision first, knowing that the money will come if and only if they are able to live up to their mission. They’ve been able to explicitly express this mission to their customers and, most importantly, their employees. These employees know what the business’s goal is and calculate every single action, word, and smile to make sure the business hits the mark.
2. They’ve Created a Market Niche
There’s only one Uber. Only one Airbnb. Only one Starbucks. These companies own their spaces. They’ve created their own market niches and their competitors find it hard to break through. It would be crazy to even try and compete with them, to open a coffee shop next door to a Starbucks or to start your own ride-sharing service when Uber has an average of 40 million riders every single month.
So how can you compete? By delivering a customer experience even better than that of your competitors. The first company to create a flawless customer experience generally is the same one that creates a market niche.
3. Referrals Drive Their Business
For companies like Starbucks, Nordstrom, IKEA, Airbnb…the list goes on…a majority of business came via the press and word of mouth. These businesses invest the time in spreading the word about new products, new services, and more. They’ve published books on customer experience and other industry topics. They’re often the companies the press goes to when a huge change is occurring in the industry. They’re the experts that get quoted and are viewed as more trustworthy, which means more customers start to do business with them.
4. Customers Are in Control
True experience-based companies let the customers run the show. Customers are the ones influencing decisions. Look at Starbucks. The company’s social media channels give customers the freedom to tell the business what’s working and what isn’t. The company has made menu and marketing changes to meet customers’ demands.
Twitter is another huge company that has given users a voice…literally. Everything we’ve come to associate with Twitter—hashtags, @ replies, and retweets—were requested by Twitter users who wanted a more engaging, interactive, and collaborative experience.
Uber and Airbnb also give customers control in a slightly different way. The company isn’t the one telling customers which car to take or which room to stay in. Instead, it’s the customers choosing the experience they have.
Following the lead of the aforementioned experience-based companies isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. You can also turn your company into one where the “reason to be” is clear and the market niche is secured; one in which referrals drive business and customers call the shots.
How? By starting with the basic elements of customer experience. By respecting your customers’ time as much as your own. By giving your customers opportunities to provide feedback and actually listening to what they say. By understanding what emotionally motivates them to purchase your product. By being unexpected. By following through on your promises.
The aforementioned companies have used these skills to deliver an experience both flawless and memorable. Now it’s your turn.