There are so many things that impact our customers and their experience. When you’re starting to sort this out (and even after you think you know) often times it’s hard to know what variables to focus on. What aspect of the experience deserves the most attention? What are the emotions that are most important to evoke? It can be very confusing and overwhelming.
While there are specific tools and techniques like experience mirroring, emotional value research, and behavioral journey mapping that can be extremely effective to help figure out the where to focus your specific efforts, it’s important to remember that there’s really only one dial that will have the greatest overall impact on the customer experience.
Which dial will “move the CX needle” the most?
It’s impossible to have customers care for you if they don’t feel you care for them. Your care for them is mandatory; their care for you is optional.
“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” ~ Unknown
You might think of care as the master control knob on the experience. “The one knob to rule them all.” Honestly the whole thing begins and ends with care.
Care is embedded in the original premise of what you offer to customers. You are offering to be of service, to be useful – something to benefit your customers – some combination of providing something that’s necessary, removing a pain point / reducing friction, or adding some comfort or pleasure in their lives. In a crowded marketplace how that underlying care is expressed in the experience has become the only true differentiator.
How will customers know you care?
They know. They “feel the force.” Customers are incredible perception machines – processing incredible amounts of incoming information in the subconscious to form emotions and conscious thoughts. Like you, they’re picking up on and synthesizing everything you send them (no matter how tiny or insignificant you might think it is.)
They can tell clearly if there’s care and purpose behind the information you’re sending them.
Do your written communications feel like you’re speaking directly to them? Do they feel that you can relate to them, that you “get’ them? Is it clear that you know about them, their preferences, and past interactions? Is what you’re communicating relevant, personal?
What is your tone of voice when you talk with them, excited, enthusiastic, empathetic or robotic?
Do customers know what comes next? Have you thought out what they need to do? How much thinking will they have to do? How much have you done for them in advance? Have you connected the dots for them?
All these things show how much you care, what you’ve invested. In other words where you have the “care” dial set.
The invisible dial
Organizations make this decision everyday – the real question is how consciously is it made? Evolved organizations set the dial on purpose, constantly adjusting it to achieve the highest positive customer emotions that are practical to deliver (consistently). It’s been our experience that many organizations don’t think about this balance consciously – they’re not even aware of the dial at all.
You could think of care as the nourishing element in the lifeblood of the Customer Experience. Care flows from the way you intend to serve their needs, into the design of your experience – dissolving the sandy friction of process thinking, into the product itself, into the ways the customer might interact with you, and most importantly it flows through the hands of your team that ultimately delivers to your customers.
Care in the air
Organizations have to care about customers and employees. Employees have to care about customers and the organization. Customers only have to care that their needs are met.
It’s going to be tough sledding to deliver a caring experience if your employees don’t care; care about the customers, the product, the mission, or the company. Taking care of employees – showing that you care for them, is an essential ingredient to having them express that outwardly to customers. Just like customers, employees pick up on this, too. If they’re not “feeling the love” then delivering the experience can often manifest itself through the filter of nothing more than a slavish obligation to a paycheck.
Care has to be all around – a culture of care – for you to deliver an excellent experience consistently over the long term.
Care doesn’t have to mean “cost.”
Too often taking better care of customers is confused with spending more on them. This is not necessarily the case. Often times simply applying better care in the design of the product itself or in the way customers are communicated with can have a big impact on how they feel. Understanding what it takes for customers to feel “cared for” is a mindset shift.
Unfortunately many organizations only wake up to this realization when there’s a problem – when what used to work isn’t working. Invariably the focus has shifted away from the customer. There’s been far more caring about results, what the organization gets, than what the customer gets.
In an increasingly commoditized world, organizations that have customers feeling “cared for” win. “Taking care of business” means taking care of customers and employees first and trusting that success is the natural outcome.
Where is your “care” dial set?
The experience your customers have is a direct reflection of where you’ve set the “care” dial. What’s your level of investment in a differentiated outcome for your customers? It’s critically important to get an organization’s senior leadership engaged in thinking about this. How might we help you figure this out?
In the end it’s the only dial that really matters.