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June 23-26, 2014

EDUCATION JUNE 24-26
EXPO JUNE 25-26
ASSOCIATION JUNE 22-26

Customer Experience: The Next Corporate Battleground

Kristen Simmons
I  April 25, 2012

We look at user ratings on Yelp before we try a restaurant. We read customer reviews for everything from books to cars before we make a purchase. And we talk with friends and family about brands we’ve tried. 

According to the 2010 Customer Experience Impact Report, 76% of consumers say word-of-mouth is the number one influencer of purchase decision. 

If a trusted recommendation or referral is such a huge driver of business, what, in turn, drives the motivation to recommend a product or service? It’s the experience someone has with a company or brand—the customer experience. 

Yet most companies operate under the norms of a bygone era, pouring money into marketing and sales initiatives that have lost their effectiveness, continuing to replace old customers with new customers who are indifferent about the company. Instead, companies need to get serious about their customer experience. 

Every customer has an experience, and many have “good” experiences and are “satisfied” with their security providers. But the key to tapping into the marketing machine of building passionate advocates for your company is providing an experience so extraordinary that it differentiates you from your competition and inspires people to become advocates—advocates who ignite conversation about your company and recommend it to others.

Customer experience isn’t just “customer service.” It’s the sum of all interactions a customer has with you, from your website to how the monitoring center answers the phone to whether a service technician takes off their shoes at a customer’s home.  

For example, do your products provide opportunities for positive interaction and insight (access control, home control features, arming reminders) and not simply negative interaction (alarms, low batteries, system trouble)? Do you provide helpful reminders about how to use the clever features your customer has forgotten about? 

When a customer reaches your monitoring center, does it sound like they’re talking to a different company? Do you only provide special offers when a customer threatens to leave? Or neglect to communicate with the customer who stopped arming his system until he says he doesn’t need it anymore? Do you check in with customers often for direct feedback?

Delivering a poor experience can spell big trouble for a business as people share their complaints with others. And providing a merely “good” experience isn’t enough to stand out. But creating an experience that exceeds expectations and elicits raves -- that is the kind of experience that builds loyalty and referrals.

There are several companies that have architected unparalleled customer experiences and, in return, have earned themselves a legion of “fans” who evangelize the brand. A couple of standouts include Apple and Zappos.com. 

The Apple experience includes intuitively designed products, inviting retail stores, emailable receipts and “geniuses.” Zappos.com provides customers a user-friendly website, large selection of products, free shipping and returns, extremely helpful telephone representatives and quickly processed refunds. A business-to-business example would be American Express OPEN, with their carefully selected experts offering curated small business advice, videos and other resources. 

It’s no coincidence these companies charge a premium, generate healthy revenues and enjoy positive business growth. One Gartner Group study shows that companies who prioritize the customer experience earn 60% higher profits than their competitors.  Pretty compelling, right?

Companies are beginning to catch on. With 71% of business executives agreeing that customer experience is the next corporate battleground (source: Shaw & Ivens), an increasing number of organizations are creating positions such as Chief Customer Officer, Customer Experience Director and others whose role is to design and manage the customer experience across the entire organization.  These companies are looking to make customer experience a competitive advantage.

The question isn’t whether security companies should focus on delivering captivating experiences that win passionate advocates. The question is: How can you afford not to?

Kristen Simmons will be the featured presenter at the ESA Industry Luncheon and Meeting, sponsored by Interlogix - A UTC Fire & Security Company on Thursday, June 28. Register now for her presentation and all of ESX at http://www.esxweb.com/register.

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