What a great customer experience really is…

A good customer experience is in the details. It’s personal, it uses your context and it’s a lasting experience. Something you remember, something you share with others.

Overall, a good customer experience is above all a human experience. It’s similar to how we generally like to interact with each other in the real world. We don’t think about it too hard, we just experience it — intuitively.

When you know that someone has been on a holiday, you ask them how their trip was. If someone’s aunt has fallen ill, you ask about her recovery. It’s nothing special, it’s what makes us human.

The human touch is in the details. The way we address someone depends on many factors: time, clothing, location, occasion etc. We naturally adjust our tone of voice to tailor it to the context and that is what makes these pleasant experiences. If you bump into an executive at a music festival, it will be a different experience than when you see him in the office on Monday morning. You alter the way you talk and behave around each other, and the relationship grows.

Customer contact has dehumanised in the past decades. There were always lots of forms to fill in, even if you had filled them in on a previous visit. Long waits on the telephone are no exception, with elaborate menus that you have to hack your way through. Overall, we have made the customer experience terrible. There was irritation everywhere. It has created a gap between how we communicate with people and how we communicate with companies.

But that’s changing now. With the technological developments from recent years, we can now make customer engagement natural again. Personal and relevant, at all times. You can turn it into an intuitive experience, something you only notice on those occasions when it isn’t done right — or done to perfection.

The Golden Gate Bridge

In honour of Jack Dorsey’s return to Twitter, let’s use his famous analogy of the Golden Gate Bridge. When you want to get to the other side of the water, you cross the bridge. You don’t think about it, it’s a natural decision that comes intuitively. You don’t consider the trouble you would have gone through if the bridge hadn’t been there. Cross it and move on with the things that matter most in your life.

Great shot by Jim Coda

Customer experience professionals understand the hard work that has gone into creating that experience. The hours, the materials and the blood to create a masterpiece of engineering.

In most cases, the customer experience is like the Golden Gate Bridge. Customers want to buy their products in an easy way and move on with their life. If they have a question, they want it answered quickly. If there’s a problem, they want you to solve it quickly. If they want to make a transaction, you better make it easy for them. With most products, customers want to make a purchase and move on.

However, sometimes we can make a difference. Sometimes we can deliver an exceptional service by going the extra mile. By understanding a customer’s context we can deliver a remarkable experience.

The Purple Cow

There is so much information that we can now use, that we can do extraordinary things. We can be remarkable, and create great marketing value by just helping our customers. Customers that are blown away by good customer experience are likely to return and tell their friends. By doing customer experience right, you can be a purple cow.

Here’s a great example of KLM going the extra mile with customer engagement. For a day, they helped all travellers in need — no matter which airline they were flying with. #happytohelp

Good customer service is marketing. It sets you apart from your competitors and it gets you customers for life. It makes you something worth talking about. It gets people excited and makes them loyal.

The concept of the Purple Cow comes from marketing guru Seth Godin. In an essay published here at FastCompany, he writes the following.

“Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be well-bred cows, Six Sigma cows, cows lit by a beautiful light, but they are still boring. A Purple Cow, though: Now, that would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow — the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows — is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.”

A customer experience should be just fine. Something you undergo and hardly pay attention to. An intuitive experience that gets you to your goal quickly, determined. It guides and assists, but you hardly notice it.

By understanding your customer’s context you can take it step further when you get the chance. You can become a purple cow and create a remarkable experience. By understanding your customer’s history, context and intent, you can create a personal and memorable experience. One that creates a lasting relationship and loyal customer.

Part of this article originally appeared at the CX Company website. You can find it here. It was published in honour of International CX Day — an event for professionals that work in the field of customer experiences.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this piece please recommend it and share it with your friends. I’d truly appreciate it.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Hans van Dam’s story.