NEW YORK -- Things got a little emotional during the destinationCRM 2008 pre-conference at the New York Marriott Marquis today. Lior Arussy, president of Strativity Group, delivered a seminar titled, “Innovate Your Customer Experience.” Arussy, a consultant and visionary on the topic of the customer experience, has authored several books including his most recent Excellence Everyday: make the Daily Choice – Inspire Your Employees and Amaze Your Customers. During the intimate conference workshop, Arussy shared that in order to engage customers and create positive experiences, organizations need to appeal to emotions and make interactions memorable.
“We often do things in the name of efficiency that are holding us back,” Arussy says. “When customers come to us, they come with baggage and a legacy of memories. We need to understand what memories they are bringing to the table.” Arussy asked the audience to list some of their best customer service experiences and how far back they date. Several admissions dated back six to eight years. Memory builds loyalty and loyalty allows for increased profit and premium costs. Arussy says often an organization finds itself working with two models – the customer model and the efficiency model. Companies try to make them both work while maintaining the idea, “We need to do more with less.”
Is this possible? What needs to be done to gauge the customer experience and foster loyalty – while keeping myriad business processes in line? Differentiate yourself, advises Arussy. Evaluating the organization’s customer touch points is a good way to start. Arussy says he often sees employees working in finance departments or other back-end operations claim to not have interaction with customers. “Hey, Mr. HR, you are in the customer business,” Arussy says. “Either you are experience creators or experience enablers. You need to know the touch points and how customers are viewing your organization through those touch points.” He adds that companies that think CRM is only about sales and marketing have already lost the game. Arussy provides an emotional customer experience involving a floral shop and a disgruntled customer who forgot to acknowledge his anniversary. The florist offered to send the wife a note, along with the belated dozen roses, explaining that the flowers were late due to the floral shop’s wrong delivery. Honest? Maybe not. Unique? No doubt about it.
With the subject of loyalty, companies are asking customers to not go to competitors, to keep returning and to keep buying products and services regardless of price competition. To do so, organizations want to give customers an emotional reason to keep coming back. After all, Arussy points out that to a degree, 95 percent of purchases are emotional.
Customers need to be wowed. When they are bored, they look around and often go to competitors. Arussy points to Wal-Mart and Costco stores as an example of the need for unique customer experiences. He mentions a town in which the Wal-Mart parking lot is often chock full of luxury vehicles – Mercedes and BMWs. “What are they doing there? The customers are saying, ‘Look either you give me an amazing experience or I’m going to go to Wal-Mart, save that money, and apply it to the good experiences,” he points out. “The customer is saying, ‘Fine, I’ll be emotional,’ but the question is can you reciprocate?” Arussy recommends that organizations view products as having little to no differentiation from competitors. Organizations must do this to ensure that the customer experience is the differentiator. It’s up to the organization to design the experiences. Remember, Arussy advises, that with the customer experience, one size does not fit all.
From a strategic perspective, Arussy recommends the following steps to deliver positive and memorable customer experiences.
* Define what your differentiating customer experience is.
* Develop a strategy and ask which touch points are causing you to hemorrhage the customer relationship.
* Organize the delivery within the organization.
* Deliver the strategy effectively.
* Measure the progress and impact.
“Elements can go a long way if we treat the buyer like a human being,” Arussy tells the crowd. Consider mapping the customer not from a dollar standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint. Good memories, after all, go a long way.
Click here for more of our destinationCRM 2008 coverage.
News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.