As we all move toward the end of 2012, there has been a lot of talks about the Mayan prophecy that the world is going to end – A period which also signifies the end of the current era and the mankind in the Mayan calendar. Before you are scared that we might never live to see the year 2013, just relax! Because this end may be symbolic end more than a literal end. According to the Mayan expert Leonzo Barreno, of Saskatchewan, Canada, the apocalypse concept is a false interpretation of the Long Count calendar. So if we all survive, how would the customer experience look like?

So – what makes up a customer experience?

A variety of opinions have been proposed to focus on product, price and enterprise processes, with minimal or no focus on customer’s needs and desires. The result is a sharp mismatch between organization’s approach to customer expectations and what customers actually want. In most cases, executives are unable to decide how customer-centric their firms are and how customers perceive their interactions with the company?

For Zappos.com, it’s all about customer experience. Referencing customer engagements, CEO Tony Hsieh described a few steps in the Zappos.com great customer experience journey. He described that the main focus has been on establishing Zappos.com’s core values and culture, which in turn leads to a great customer experience. With this focused approach, nearly every employee at Zappos.com, including executives is required to go through a 4 week customer loyalty training course, which features at least 2 weeks of talking on the phone with real customers in its contact center. According to the CEO of Zappos.com, Customer service shouldn’t just be a department – it should spread across the entire company.

It is very clear that customer experience (CX) goes beyond the core marketing process of exchange and the consumption of products and services, to encompass the sum of all experiences a customer has – From awareness, discovery, planning, purchase and post purchase activities such as remembering ,story telling and advocacy.

Market focuses on customers

According to research firm, Gartner by 2015, 75% of consumers will tell their friends about their good and bad experiences using social media, up from 25% in 2010 and companies that embrace this shift will build trust and control within their market place.

Customer dominance is a new normal – Today, customer power is driving every private and public firm in the world of change. Customer interactions across all digital channels have drastically changed the reputation and brand management, even a Fortune 50 company is vulnerable to an assault from a blogger or a small rival group. In the age of customers, competitive barriers such as disruptive power and manufacturing strengths are being torn by this digital economy. The only thing that substantiates your products or service is knowledge of deep interaction with customers in a vibrant ecosystem of collaboration.

  • Define the planned customer experience strategy Companies need to first specify key targeted customer groups and identify the segments that take priority and make sure that intended experience ties to their business goals. A good example of Sprint that focused its initial customer experience improvement efforts on reducing customer churns – a key objective; by fixing customer problems that caused subscribers to call customer service.
  • Involve employees and spread awareness The customer experience strategy helps everyone in the company understand how to interact with the customers. The Chief Customer Officer or the head of customer experience should spend a third of his time talking to managers and service department staff – conveying the importance of the role.
  • Fund efforts to support higher aspirations Involving key stake-holders in the customer experience improvement process leads to a great buy-in. Customer experience professionals should also follow the example of other firms to show how other industry players are putting focused efforts in building a customer obsessed working culture. Firms should allocate dedicated funds to special projects that can be prioritized by customer experience team.

In the nutshell, if you don’t know your customers, create a connection.