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Building A Better Customer Experience

Are you missing the building blocks that count?

– Insights into what makes a great customer experience  based on travel (mis)adventures in Italy –

Italy – Prime international tourist destination renowned for its atmospheric historical centers, gastronomic experiences and giving visitors a taste of La Dolce Vita. Whilst sensory life experiences are ripe for the picking Italy-wide, getting anything done on time or as expected in Italy can be an exercise in extreme frustration for the outsider. If you have an Italian background or speak the language, you might be lucky enough to be able to stray off the tourist track, to talk with real people openly about life, politics, business, and to see and hear more about the raw underbelly of what it takes to get the job done in Italy today.

Now, without wanting to comment on the strengths and weakness of the local small business ecosystem, two things are clear even to the visitor: Scratch the surface of Italy’s rustic glamour, and you’ll see businesses doing it beyond tough, especially in Southern Italy; and spend any time there as a customer trying to get anything done and you often end up having a pretty raw experience.

When the “seamless” customer experience is …well…not so seamless!

Today we read and talk a lot about the potential for digitally transformative technologies to allow SMEs to provide the “seamless customer experience” the digital economy needs to drive business survival, growth and economic betterment in general.

But what happens when you get used to and expect the seamless experience, and then suddenly find yourself road blocked? Your business, travel, or leisure agendas held up – cause unapparent? What’s the hold-up/issue? Is it them, or is it me? Have the seamless experience front runners around the world set the bar too high?

Indeed many businesses, including the tourism industry in Italy, would seem to have all the conventional “experience” boxes ticked.

After all – Italy has one of the world’s best ratings as a travel experience, it attracts outstanding user reviews, it inspires a constant stream of value-adding content that is shared and repurposed by the travel industry the world over, and it is getting ready to offer visitors and industry well above average base-line connectivity (95 percent of Italy’s population set to have ultrafast broadband by mid-2018 – almost two years ahead of its original schedule – but that’s a whole other discussion there…)

What’s stopping these and other business around the world from making it that final mile into seamless-town? Well recent experiences in the Italian context highlighted two often overlooked factors:

1) Charming customer service is different to being truly customer-centric, and;

2) Processes need to be consistent (and existent) to actually generate outcomes.

It’s the Form-Over-Function argument – you might eventually (although perhaps not always) get your customer their desired outcome – but what of their journey to get there? And why and how is that journey often so vastly different from one day to the next, one customer to the next, one place to the next, and one hour to the next?

The essential building blocks for better customer experience

In talking about getting SMEs digital transformation ready there are two recurring themes and it just so happens that these are also the essential building blocks for better customer experience.

  1.  Make the customer king through true customer centricity – making their experience and satisfaction a strategic and constant priority, and
  2.  Build robust processes that both inform and guardrail the quality of customer experiences each and every time.

If you’ve had a less than positive travel experience…then you know what we mean…a negative customer experience is what you will result if these two elements do not operate in tandem.

“Amateurs have goals and professionals have processes.”

I have no doubt that all businesses the world over share a virtually common set of goals – sustained growth, profitability, legacy building, some measure of community good – the difference lies in how they set about achieving those goals, and the ecosystem that is in place to facilitate this.

But beyond this, there is subtle difference between businesses in the digital age:

on the one hand you have the professional digital-amateur (you know your business and your industry but you lack the customer-centricity and processes to drive forward),

and on the other you have those that ready to take the leap forward into newer territory as an amateur digital-professional (you might have been in business a long time but recognize that to become a digital-grade professional, you’ll need to transition to adopt new mind-sets and processes.)

Are you working on the goal and not the process? Don’t forget – the digital experience is also in the journey!

Want to read more about Customer Experience on the Maxsum blog?

The 3 Human Touches to Inspire Customer Loyalty in the Digital Age

Are You Feeling the Love? Customer Service vs. Empathy in the race to win friends and influence people