Posted by: Greg Siefert | October 23, 2009

The Four Laws of Customer Experience

So, here’s one of those questions that if you ask 5 people, you would get 5 different answers — “What are we really striving for as we focus on improving customer experience? ”

  • Customer Loyalty
  • Advocates and even evangelists
  • Raving fans
  • Great word of mouth exposure

Each of these is a good answer, but at the core we are really looking to grow our business rapidly and profitably.  Remember, at the end of the day we don’t define success, our customers do.  For us to grow, we need to understand our customers and truly relate to them.  We need to focus our business on creating and delivering experiences that are relevant, meaningful, and memorable to our customers.  A good place to start is with the four laws of customer experience:

  1. Every interaction creates a personal reaction — Too often, we do our customer research, segmentation and targeting based on a view of our customers as rational, logical actors only.  When we fall into this trap, we are missing out on a significant factor.  People are both rational and emotional — in fact, over 50% of all purchase decisions are emotional!  We need to understand our customers holistically.  They are influenced by the same things that we are — the economy, family, faith, success at work, etc.  Every interaction we have with our customers leaves an impression.  Are you catering to real people or just rational actors?
  2. Don’t blindly follow the “HiPPO” — We’ve all been there, discussion a product or service when the HiPPO appears (by the way HiPPO stands for the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion).  It may be for a product feature, packaging, functionality, etc.  That’s what the boss is paid to do, right?  To give their opinion on what those customers really need.  Often times, these HiPPOs make it into the final product simply because that’s what the boss wanted.  The point here is not that the HiPPO is always wrong — that’s not necessarily the case.  The point is to not blindly follow the HiPPO.  Break outside your four walls to truly understand the customer.  Don’t sit around some table getting everyone’s opinion.  Go out into the market to the customers in their natural habitat!  Look at the context in which they use the product.  Look at the context in which they buy the product.  Design it solely around the customer, not based on internal company opinions.
  3. Unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers — OK, the last point was to focus externally.  To understand the customer, you have to focus externally.  However, to deliver a great experience, you have to focus first on your employees.  The customer experience wholly depends on the employee experience.  Don’t blame the employees for a sub-par customer experience…fix the environment.  What is the best place to start?  Make it easy for employees to do the right thing!  Empower employees to make decisions.  Not only will they be more engaged and take on more responsibility, but your customers will have a much better experience. 
  4. You can’t fake it — Customer experience is about a developing a relationship with your customers.  You could craft a great experience strategy, but if your company — from senior management to front-line employees — isn’t completely bought in, you will fail.  Customer experience isn’t just an outward facing facade.  It is a pervasive mindset that looks at everything you do with a focus first on the customer — from sale & marketing to operations to finance to HR, focus on Customer Experience needs to be in your DNA.

Please take a moment and share your thoughts on these four laws.


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