Experiences, Expectations and Emotions
It is a simple fact that organisations succeed by delivering greater value to their customers than their competitors. But how do they actually do it? I will reflect on how an understanding of customers’ experiences, their expectations and their emotional responses to ‘doing business with us’ can help organisations ‘deliver greater value than their competitors.’
Customer value is delivered through a series of ‘propositions’ that they ‘experience’ at various ‘touch-points’ with us; the most critical of which are ‘moments of truth’. If we meet expectations in these moments, customers generally have a positive emotional response, they are satisfied; but not always. A number of what I call external factors or pre-dispositions influence customer expectations and must be considered to ensure satisfaction; the most notable of which are:
a) The customer’s previous experiences of doing business with us or our competitors,
b) Competitor value propositions, and
c) The customers experiences immediately prior to any ‘moment of truth’.
In addition to these factors there are other less tangible expectations that relate to the general experience-base of the customer, e.g. the influence of shopping with Amazon, or visiting the Ritz hotel. These further blur our understanding of customer expectations, experiences and emotions.
As a result, meeting expectations and satisfying customers is a challenge that we must meet with both and internal and an external viewpoint. To ensure a sustainable and satisfying customer’s experience, we must first identify those moments of truth that describe ‘what it is really like doing business with us.’
Next we need to map out our customers activity cycles, i.e. the full series of events that describe their experiences inside and outside our shared touch points. To do this we need to talk to customers, identifying who their expectations setters are, how they compare us against others (and who they are), what process they go through before they interact with us, what communications they value, how they rate the people they have to deal with, and how they feel throughout the overall process. This enables us to start to describe and understand their expectations, experiences and emotions and build real customer insight.
Finally we must also understand what they do not value, i.e. what aspects of the value proposition that if excluded (saving you resource in terms of money and time) wouldn’t impact the customer experience, what value destroyers may be present, i.e. elements of the experience that completely destroy any value created, and finally what their value expectations are for tomorrow, as these are what we must meet to survive.
About the author:
Lee Williams Lee has an impressive track record in helping organisationsimprove their sales effectiveness through the application of value propositions, portfolio analysis, and relationship management. He is an expert in the application of ‘Lean Thinking’. Past clients have included American Express, AXA, Lloyds TSB and the Home Delivery Network.