The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences
If customer experience matters so much, why is it often so poor? In this award-winning book, author Matt Watkinson aims to convince readers that any organisation can put ten basic principles in place to make a real difference.
We’ve all experienced both appalling and brilliant customer service, and decided our brand loyalties as a result. Common sense should be prevailing to ensure every customer feels cared for with each small detail of our interaction. But for anyone fruitlessly trying to contact a call centre, or paying over the odds for a mediocre meal, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Watkinson advocates that these touch-points are so important that companies should appoint a customer experience board director to ensure responsibility and leadership for customers is entrenched at the top.
“Businesses now have little choice but to concentrate on delighting the customer to stay in business”
With an accessible reading style, his key principles for great customer experiences are that they should:
- Strongly reflect the customer’s identity – most purchases are led by our values and self-image and what the product will say about us, contrary to the more traditional selectors of quality and price. Consider the values of a Mont Blanc pen over a Bic biro
- Satisfy our higher objectives – successful products are ones that help us achieve our goals. Define the end goal, particularly the super-objective of any purchase – e.g not to buy an airline ticket, but to attend a family funeral. This is particularly important for employees who rarely have any contact with customers. Dyson and the clothing company Patagonia had the advantage because they created products for people like themselves. Others have to conduct more market research, but you need to be aware of what people won’t say in a focus group. Sony was trying to decide whether to launch a boom box in yellow or black and the group decided that yellow was the best. But when offered a black or yellow one at the end of the session, every single person chose a black one. Nothing can beat getting out and about talking to customers and seeing what they do and don’t like about your product
- Leave nothing to chance – there is no detail that should be overlooked when considering your customer’s journey to your product. Watkinson shows how to break every stage in the cycle down into steps, with mini scenarios mapped out for different customer groups and specific success factors to measure against, to ensure that every interaction with your customer is positive. Waitrose cashiers will always smile and ask after the customer at the till, check each egg box and seek help for customers who need it. Tesco has already admitted that its cost-cutting drive for self-checkouts has resulted in too few staff around to help and a lack of personal service, and therefore a drop in profits
Watkinson sets out these first three principles as the foundation to the rest. He then urges us to set and meet expectations – we have all been disappointed when the reality of a product has not lived up to expectations. Accenture discovered that 68% of electrical item returns were not because they were faulty but that they weren’t what we expected. Setting clear expectations, and meeting them consistently, is key. Beyond this, we should be focussing on making the customer experience effortless – what can be designed out but make the experience better? Like Vodafone’s Red Box service which transfers all your contacts from your old phone to your new one. Stress free experiences are better experiences – being reminded by your airline not to forget to pack your mobile charger, or advised what the weather is like in your destination would add enormously to the service. Consider how to indulge all the senses – vision ,touch, scent, hearing and taste – that your customer could experience and how that could enhance their experience of your brand – Starbucks is positively associated with music. The final points – remember to be – or empower your staff to be – personable and socially engaging; put the customer in control – give them product choices, control over what they spend, when it will be delivered, and what it will look like, without overwhelming people, and consider the emotions – how a product or service makes us feel, is critical to its success.
Watkinson attempted to end his book without an obvious case study about Apple, but felt there was no business that better embodied his principles. As Jonathan Ives said, “the goal isn’t to make money, the goal is to try and develop the very best products that we can”. This utter focus on the customer’s experience has reaped huge rewards and a cult-like following. Perhaps a slice of Apple’s vision will bring tempting rewards for us all.
About the author Matt Watkinson is a designer and consultant who works with businesses to help get their customer experience right. He has worked with household names, design agencies and management consultancies in the UK, Europe and America. You can download free worksheets to help with your own projects at http://mattwatkinson.co.uk/worksheets/index.html
Accolades and reviews
Overall Winner – Chartered Management Institute – Management Book of the Year 2014
“Many of the business manuals that cross our desk are dry, self-help texts devoid of any intellectual spice. Some books however buck the trend. Matt Watkinson’s tome seems innocuous enough, but crack open the spine, and the prose reveals a cerebral and often original approach to design, customer service and management. He references playwrights, directors and philosophers, and makes their theories applicable to the world of customer experiences.” Sophie Grove, Business Editor, Monocle
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Author: Matt Watkinson