While Jess continues to work on a pause button and we get through hot and/or dreary weather, today’s episode is all about customer experience. Unfortunately, customer experience is no walk in the part nor a good bedtime story. When you’re scaling a business, it seems like it’s 10x harder. But according to Doug customer experience is effortless because no matter what you do, the customer has an experience.
What is customer experience?
Before we can answer this question, we have to understand what prompted this topic to begin with. This topic was on Jess’s mind because as we’ve been working internally on improving some of our processes, she’s been thinking about how we can improve our customer experience. This includes where the friction points are and where we can reduce some of that friction.
Now, customer experience. The problem with customer experience is it’s one of those terms that everyone understands, or at least thinks they do. It’s not until they are asked to put a meaningful definition to it that they can’t tell you what it is, when they see it, etc.
So much of life is influencing the experience and letting the experience influence you. It’s like controlling your environment. If you’re overly purposeful, there’s no direct path to where you’re going. Every great customer experience has something uniquely dysfunctional about it. Look at companies that have great customer experience. Starbucks comes to mind. Doug doesn’t think anyone says that the customer experience at Starbucks is what it was. At one point the experience at Starbucks was what you bought. If anyone could recapture the brand of customer experience, shouldn’t it be someone that already had it?
A great customer experience is a unique experience, but it isn’t flexible. The customer is your guide, but if you listen to the customer, you’re not going to create a great customer experience because the customer doesn’t know what they want.
Doug begins to tell us who gives a great customer experience when Jess asks about Zappos. Why Zappos? Because she thought Doug had a great experience with them, but that’s more customer service than it is customer experience.
What’s Doug’s customer experience with Apple? He doesn’t really have one. Same thing with Zappos and Amazon.
Great customer experience comes down to the fact that every customer wants the exact same thing. They want what they want, when they want it, preferably without having to ask for it. Four Seasons is great at this. Walmart used to be great at this. Walmart used to exist for the person who lived paycheck to paycheck and it was built for them and it was delivered to them.
Customer experience is this interesting place where lots of energy is wasted. Why?
A lot of people look at customer experience as a holy grail. Doug thinks lots of money gets put into experience along with lots of time and energy. In the end it doesn’t move the needle. Customer experience is good to great, and even a very good to great discipline.
Another place where customer experience falls is to platitudes. It’s one of the great lands of platitudes to delight your customer, provide a wow experience, and always exceed expectations. There are two elements that are required for a great customer experience.
- Deep understanding of your customer - who is your customer
- Deep understanding of and working towards their expectations
Southwest Airlines was referred to as the great customer experience – the Greyhound of the skies. Why? Because they promised a whole lot less. They didn’t promise a luxury experience.
When you think about it, anything you notice about the experience is usually wrong/bad. Why do airlines have a problem with experience and satisfaction? Because the ideal flight leaves on time, arrives on time, gets to the destination safely, and with no turbulence. Every flight we remember is bad. The desired expectation is nothing. Firstly, you can’t exceed that. Secondly, that’s a really hard thing to manage.
Imagine works in Multifamily. There’s a lot of debate around customer experience. To say experience doesn’t matter is not true. A customer experience can cause someone to leave, but will not cause them to renew.
What role does revenue operations play towards customer experience?
There’s a larger strategic element to define what the game is you’re playing. What are the key drivers? Are you anchoring around operational excellence? Are you anchoring around superiority? Are you anchoring around co-creation? Enrichment/Experience?
If you go back to our definition of what is the role of revenue operations, it’s to lead the management of the trade-offs to solve for the customer and meet their objectives. Far too often, the customer experience is narcissism in the guise of empathy.
Part of RevOps job is to help clarify what we’re hiring something for. When we talk at Imagine about jobs to be done, we often talk about the McDonald’s example from Clayton Christensen around milkshakes. He talked about a fast food restaurant where people were buying milkshakes and went into the question of, “What are you hiring the milkshake for?” Similarly we have to ask this question around customer experience.
RevOps job is to ask where the trade-off is. Is the juice worth the squeeze?
A great way to look at customer experience is through the lens of parenting. If you’re too purposeful, your kids will be a mess. They’re going to feel controlled. If you’re too loosey goosey as a parent, they’re also going to be screwed. You can’t purposefully raise great kids. There’s an aspect that if you try to create an environment that enables something to happen. Doug sees this a lot with the role of friction. Everyone wants to eliminate friction.
Is a two hour line friction or not to buy a dozen donuts? Then explain the new Krispy Kreme that opens up. Is running out of a product friction or not? Then explain the craze for Popeyes’s new chicken sandwich. Part of the reason we want these things is because of the wait or because it’s in demand. That’s all friction.
Let’s talk about Imagine’s experience.
It’s completely frictionless and everyone loves us.
On a more serious note, Doug loses a lot of sleep around Imagine’s customer experience. Why? He’s not sure we’d be better off if it was where we wanted it to be. What are two or three things that you would want to change about our experience?
Jess’s response is that Imagine proactively communicates because we’re sometimes like a black box. It’s hard to tell where we are as far as deliverables go and what’s coming up next.
What would you (Jess) do to solve this? To her it’s more proactive communication which involves having ways to trigger notifications to the client. And to get there we would need more people. Doug knows some companies that are exceptional at proactive communication, but they’re doing the same thing every time. When something pops up that is off course for what they planned, everything short circuits.
Imagine excels because our clients have hard shit that needs to be done and they’re not sure who else can do it. We get the most positive feedback after a client gets frustrated because we told them something they don’t want to hear. If we were after a low friction experience, we wouldn’t engage in those hard conversations. The reason clients continue to work with us is because they know we’re going to tell them what they don’t want to hear.
Most relationships Imagine has where we did really good stuff, ends rocky. Doug on one hand wishes that more of our relationships ended on a high note, but we would be creating less value for the customers that we work with if that was the case.
Doug encourages anyone to read the book, The Disciplines of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy & Fred Wiersema and/or read our blog on Value Proposition Foundations. Our value proposition foundation anchor is superiority. We are going to bring you an insight that you can’t get anywhere else. We’re going to bring you an approach you can’t get anywhere else. We’re going to solve problems that you can’t do anywhere else. Operational excellence is not where we anchor ourselves, so should we allocate our resources to make sure that nothing ever gets to anyone late? Not if it takes a resource away from doing something unique.
You can’t be great at everything. On a twitch stream that some of our employees put on called Let’s Play RevOps, Drew Davidoff made the comment that you can’t fix everything. The point he was trying to make was that no one has the time or resources to be able to fix everything. And even if you did fix something, that impacts everything else. Once one thing is fixed, something else breaks. If you try to be everything, you’re sure to be disappointed.
What is the expectation? What is the value proposition? Part of our experience is, we don’t hide from the hard.
When it comes to customer experience, strive for your ideal, but always measure your experience on progress because the more progress you make, the worse it’ll feel.
Your customer experience has already started. Everything that has happened before will impact you. You don’t control the entire customer experience. And it never ends. Well it ends when that person dies. Again, it’s already started and it doesn’t end, so get on it.
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