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Winning Customer Experiences
By Megan Tough

Much research has been done to find out what makes a winning customer experience. What is it that makes customers come back to your business instead of going to someone else's? If your repeat business is low, what is it that you are doing to drive your customers away? There is a consistent theme that emerges across the research - winning customer experiences are built on consistency. Michael Gerber, in his book "The E-Myth Revisited", calls this orchestration. "Orchestration is the glue that holds you fast to your customers' perceptions".

This may seem a glib response to a complex issue, but take a moment to consider it from the customer's viewpoint. When dealing with a business for the first time, the customer probably has no set expectations on what the experience will be like. With your first interaction, you set the standard in the customer's mind. If you set a positive standard, it is likely the customer will return. The next time they do, the customer will expect the same from you. Fail to deliver, and ultimately you will lose that customer.

So if consistency is the key, how should a business go about ensuring the consistent experience for the customer? First, start with the end state that you want to create. What experience do you want your customers to have (cheerful, professional or very fast service, friendly, feel valued etc)? With this in mind, think about all the ways that your customers interact with your business. Your business may have many touchpoints - telephone, face to face (single or multiple sites), email, website, snail mail and so on. Your business needs to be predictable at each touch point, and predictably the same with every contact. The customer notices when they get one experience by walking into your shop, and a different experience when they speak to you on the phone.

Achieving consistency comes down to documenting exactly how you want your business to respond in each situation. If it's not documented then how will the people in your business know what you mean? Sure you can tell them, but this process falls over in larger businesses with many employees and multiple sites. You must create systems and procedures that consistently deliver your chosen experience at all levels of your company. With everyone in your business responding the same way, every time, the customer knows exactly what to expect, and can depend on you to provide it each time. Being able to replicate the same winning experience for the customer will build your brand and their loyalty.

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Megan Tough, MBA, is a Business Coach and author living in Sydney, Australia. With over 14 years experience in the business and corporate arena, Megan specializes in working with business owners to create and manage business plans, and improve profitability and management practices.

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