Whether you are selling to suburbanites or CEOs, everyone wants the same thing these days. Consumers are interested in far more than just products. They are looking for an experience.
This shift to experience-based sales has impacted the entire global economy in recent years. A 2020 KMPG study found that brands leading their respective industries had an 11% higher customer experience ranking than average companies in that sector. The direct-to-consumer industry has built on this knowledge over the last decade or so, but business-to-business (B2B) models have been slower to adapt.
In the manufacturing industry, we have seen a lag in adopting procedures that involve clients in the overall experience of getting their ideas from concept to reality. Whatever market you’re in, those missed connections have a real impact on the bottom line and can even lead to business failure.
To create an amazing experience and win over loyal customers, businesses must dial into what their target market really needs. This takes data, listening skills, and a laser focus on consumers as real, individual people. Let me walk you through the process, step by step, of how our company is doing just that, to help you build the right kind of experience for your customers.
1. Find the pain points
It’s impossible to deliver a truly outstanding customer experience without first understanding what customers want. Before investing in fancy new packaging or upgrading technology, put some time and resources behind research to find the pain points in your current customer experience.
While surveys and focus groups are a great way to learn about consumers’ thoughts, you may be surprised at the data you already have at your fingertips. Customer service calls, sales reports, web analytics, and social media interactions have a wealth of information that can point you in the right direction.
“It’s impossible to deliver a truly outstanding customer experience without first understanding what customers want.”
Organize your data and look for patterns to find out what customers are struggling with. For our business, after reviewing the data and interviewing clients, we found that there is a lack of transparency in the manufacturing world that needed to be addressed.
Ask yourself as you sift through numbers, and demographic information and speak with real customers, “What is their pain point? How can we better serve them?” This will reveal the kind of experiences that win you, life-long customers.
2. Have a plan
Building an experience isn’t going to happen overnight. Finding the pain points gives you a goal to work towards, but to get there, you need a cohesive plan.
In order to address the transparency issues within our industry, we determined that we needed a fully-loaded customer service portal––with communication options, simplified processes, and a feature akin to Domino’s Tracker® allowing clients to see exactly what stage their orders are at and whom they can talk to about the current status.
This solves a myriad of customer problems and gives us room to grow and evolve as we continue to level up our consumers’ experience. Whatever the customer experience solution looks like to you, it’s vital to build a strong team behind the concept, ready to bring the idea all the way to the finish line.
Putting together a large-scale customer experience program can easily fall into the trap of a laundry list of features. It’s tempting to look at competitors and try to do everything they are doing, only bigger and better. The problem is, keeping up with the competition means that you are always one step behind. And piling on every good idea means that none of the ideas will be as good as they could have been.
“You don’t need an endless list of ideas; you need the right ideas.”
Instead, focus on the end goal. Go back to the consumer pain points, and work specifically on solutions to those problems. You don’t need an endless list of ideas; you need the right ideas. Focusing on what customers are looking for will ensure that the end product adds value to your business.
In our quest to improve transparency, we could have relied on one of the myriads of prebuilt customer service platforms available. Many of them had a variety of useful features, but none of them were really addressing the specific needs of our customers according to the data we collected. Focusing on that single solution steered us towards creating a new platform from scratch.
A fulfilling customer experience is one where the individual feels a genuine connection with the brand, which they are doing business with. To make that happen, you need the ability to empathize with your audience. Between gathering data and building efficient processes, it’s easy to start thinking of customers as numbers on a screen. Resist that urge and think about the individuals who will use or buy your product.
5. Communicate and then communicate some more
As you build around the data, always be open to the suggestions that your end users have. They may not have a working knowledge of how a big corporation works, but they absolutely know what they (and like-minded consumers) will pay for.
Communication is a two-way street. Provide as much information to customers as possible about what your future goals are, how you plan to accomplish those goals, and how they can be involved in the process. Building a unique and extraordinary customer experience is challenging in that it takes a substantial investment of time, talent, and other resources. The good news is that at its core, it is fairly simple. Build the experience around the user.
Keep the customer in mind through the research, planning, and development process. That way, the experience is one that they want, need, and are willing to pay a premium for. That way, you can be sure that when you communicate your success with the users, they will be celebrating right along with you.
Jordan Erskine has nearly 20 years in the beauty and skincare industry. Jordan currently serves as Co-Founder and Principal for the award-winning contract manufacturer Dynamic Blending. He has spent his entire career in the manufacturing and R&D world. Jordan started his career at a large contract manufacturing facility, Wasatch Product Development, in Draper, Utah. There he wore many hats in R&D and manufacturing. In 2015, Jordan decided to start Dynamic Blending with Gavin Collier due to the huge need for innovation in a stale industry, contract manufacturing.
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