A very interesting chart published late last year by Beyond Philosophy shows an evolution of the top 10 brands in Customer Experience Management between 2011 and 2013. Some of the key areas where these brands are making a difference, and the reason WHY they have been mentioned as TOP include excelling in customer service, ease of use and good communications.
You can see Apple losing ground, Amazon just doing better and better, and Zappos, an online retailer for shoes and clothing, just clinging there at the top. Starbucks, Tesco and Vodafone are out of the list, and newcomers are for example John Lewis, a chain of upmarket department stores, Southwest, an airline company, and IKEA. I think IKEA is on this list, deservedly and finally, and both John Lewis and Southwest Airlines are there because of their amazing employee engagement approach. Their focus on “employees first” really pays off in terms of getting satisfied customers. Worth to check out more here about Southwest’s unique employee culture (plus there is a really cool Infographic). As its CEO, Herb Kelleher, once said:
If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.
Customer experience management is becoming increasingly important for the success of companies and it translates into results, from the mouths of customers directly into financial markets. This trend is particularly true in industries that are seeing a high degree of commoditization of their services and an increase in competition, i.e. Telecommunications.
Another thing the top have in common is that they have an excellent awareness about what their experience actually is and where they want it to go.
I believe that this is really the key to start with. Unfortunately, over the past years, Customer Experience has been a topic riddled with mismanagement from the top and caught up in “fluffy” arguments. It is paramount that international corporations develop local roots and a clear sense of what they want their customer experience to be.
To summarize, I believe that there are 5 key questions to brave customer experience:
- What does it mean Customer Experience for your business and for your local customers?
- How well do you measure Customer Service Excellence and how do you rank versus your peers?
- How easy is it for customers to activate and use your services?
- How well do you communicate with customers and how do you rank versus your peers?
- How much are your employees engaged and how do you rank versus your peers?
Ranking versus peers is important, as Customer Experience should be a cornerstone of your differentiation strategy. I think that anyone playing a role in Customer Experience Management will find valuable insights in honest and critical answers to the questions above. Leave no stone unturned.