When I started Beyond Philosophy back in 2002, I could ascertain whether a company was customer-focused or not right away. I wondered how I did that. When I thought about it, there were some common telltale cultural signs organizations share that indicate where their focus lies.
This answer became my second book, Revolutionize Your Customer Experience, which explores how the culture of a company reflects how customer-centric the organization is. It is also where I first shared the Native to Natural™ model.
The Naïve to Natural Model classifies organizations into four orientations, which I called Naive, Transactional, Enlightened, and Natural. Naive organizations are the least customer-focused, looking inside at operations rather than out to customers. Natural companies are the opposite; they are “naturally” focused on the customer. Transactional and Enlightened are somewhere in between the two extremes.
We shared some examples of some of the indicators of whether a company is customer-centric or not customer-centric on a recent podcast. The signs reveal themselves best as answers to questions.
I was in the Apple Store the other day, and I thought to myself, this is more like a club of shared values and interests than a shop. It was as if it was a meeting place for like-minded people with common ground.
It felt like a tribe. We discussed Tribalism on a recent podcast and how your brand can create one with your customers. Tribes are not only good for your brand, but they are excellent for building Customer Loyalty.
Customers have an idea of whether you are a low- or high-priced store almost before they ever interact with you. There are many reasons for it, and you are responsible for a lot of them.
There is a story that demonstrates this concept that happened in a neighborhood in Boston called Jamaica Plain. It was historically a working-class neighborhood with many immigrant families living there.
Eventually, Jamaica Plain began to gentrify, and Whole Foods replaced the regional grocery store there. The residents of Jamaica Plain were livid. They had picket lines around the construction site. The primary argument was that Whole Foods was too expensive.
This incident demonstrates a concept called Price Image. Different from actual prices, Price Image is the reputation that a store or brand has for being high- or low-priced. In other words, Price Image is the intersection of price and brand.
For example, Apple has a high Price Image. That means most of us assume that an Apple product will be more expensive than the competition.
On the other hand, Southwest Airlines has a low Price Image. Most people believe that a ticket on Southwest will be less expensive than the competition.
We discussed Price Image on a recent podcast. We discussed how people form these price impressions and what happens when they are wrong. We also explore how the Price Image becomes so inaccurate from reality. Finally, we discuss that once you have a Price Image, what you can do with it from a Customer Experience standpoint.
You turn on the news, and the newscaster says, “There’s a lack of confidence in the stock market,” which we know means that the market is about to drop. However, confidence is a feeling. It’s not an actual physical thing, but, apparently, not having it can be costly for your net worth.
The question becomes, are we talking ourselves into a recession? We discussed in a recent podcast the psychology behind the stock market and what it means, as well as what we can learn from that and do differently.
Some customer habits may be useful for your Customer Experience strategy, and some of them may not. Understanding how customers’ habits form and how to identify them is crucial for Customer Experience.
We talked about how habits form and understanding your customers’ habits in a recent podcast. We discussed how one of the ways to view patterns is through this two-system lens, meaning the Intuitive and Rational Systems we use in our thinking.
You will recall that the Intuitive System is fast, automatic thinking associated with emotional reactions, and the Rational System is slow, deliberate thought related to logic. These two systems help us understand habits and habit formation.
The latest thing I am into is Airbnb. Airbnb properties have character, at least the ones that we chose. I like that when we use Airbnb, we stay places where we wouldn’t typically.
I find Airbnb fascinating because it is an organization that is disrupting the hospitality industry. I wondered what the secret was to their success. After all, let’s face it, having a business predicated on the idea that people would let strangers stay in their home sounds like a doomed venture.
However, it isn’t doomed, and quite the contrary. Per USA Today, Airbnb has more than seven million listings in 100,000 cities as of early September 2019, and they plan to go public in 2020. They also reported revenues of over one billion in the second quarter of 2019, although there is no report on the profits.
New York Times best-selling author and keynote speaker Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P. was our guest on a recent podcast to talk about the secret to Airbnb’s success. As a certified Customer Experience Professional, he helps organizations and leadership change to improve their experience for their team members and customers. He has written nine books on companies like Starbucks, Zappos, Mercedes Benz, and Ritz Carlton. His latest book, The Airbnb Way, shares their insight for successful disruption and delivering an excellent Customer Experience to your customer community.