Customer growth comes from experience reliability

When I was first thinking about working on a post about KPIs and experience reliability, some of my digital marketing and SEO friends recommended I call it “research-backed KPIs for customer satisfaction.” I actually didn’t want ‘customer satisfaction’ in the title or concept. Why? Because often with organizations, ‘customer satisfaction’ is about survey scores and not about operational performance. If you don’t completely understand the difference, it’s about this: ‘survey scores’ are an easy way out for companies. They poll customers (or employees) once a year and report out the survey scores that result, then forget about it for another year. That doesn’t do anything in terms of customer experience, and it definitely doesn’t do anything in terms of employee experience. (Customer experience and employee experience are often linked, as we talked about with Scott Dille of Northern Trust in Episode 3 of the Human Duct Tape podcast.)

Instead, this is about experience reliability and customer growth — so operational performance as opposed to survey scores. How does experience reliability help grow your customer base?

The critical customer growth touch points 

Guided by your journey framework, think of opportunities for reliability and future differentiation in four categories of critical touch points:

  • Managing customers at risk
  • Responding to customer needs
  • Increasing bond with relevant value add
  • Earning the right to revenue growth

The bottom line with experience reliability and customer growth is this: when you deliver a reliable experience, you earn the right to your customers’ story through word of mouth. And your customers will come back because they want to have your experience again.

Experience reliability and customer growth

There are three repeated points that customers talk about through social media, which will earn you the right to new customer growth without the acquisition cost and organic growth of your existing customers. These are:

  1. Was the experience consistent and reliable? No matter where or who the customer talked to in any channel.
  2. Does their relationship with you improve their life or business? Did your actions prove your commitment to them?
  3. How does it feel to do business with you? Honored, distrusted, ignored? All of these come out in tweets, reviews and message boards.

Now consider this graphic:

Customer growth experience reliability

What does this research mean?

When your experience is unreliable, the most powerful way to grow will suffer: positive word of mouth. If the experience you deliver to customers is not consistent and reliable no matter what channel or silo or location they interact with, then customers won’t vouch for you. That will impact recommendations and organic growth.

Oftentimes it’s helpful to phrase business context in terms of personal stories, so let me go with this one. When I give keynotes I tell a story about the hotel experience which resonates: when you check into a hotel, they ask you what type of pillow you’d like and the kind of chocolate you’d like at turndown. But then, when you walk in the room, there’s hair in the sink and dirt under the bed, all that ‘wow’ is lost in the lack of reliability in table stakes.

You also need to understand this graphic, which I call ‘the defector pipeline:’

bliss-defector-pipeline

You can read more about the defector pipeline in this post, but the basic concept is around connecting with customers prior to renewal and making sure they’re still ‘with’ you. The defector pipeline, if analyzed properly, can lead to a series of decision-making steps and action items.

Customer experience is all about reliability. Your customers (clients) need to feel the same experience (a good one) each and every time. That’s essentially the only way to create and drive customer growth. If experience is inconsistent, the customer growth portion will be much harder.

Customer growth and silos

This is crucially important — and honestly, this is why I named my new podcast Human Duct Tape Show. The whole idea of the CCO role is that it’s ‘human duct tape.’ It ties together all the different concepts, silos, deliverables, and metrics in the name of cross-functional teams. You can’t ignore this fact: how your organizational decision-making works ultimately drives your customer growth and loyalty. If everything is silo-by-silo and senior leaders are chasing their individual metrics, customer growth is very hard. There needs to be a sense of accountability towards the ultimate customer experience. As Harvard Business Review has shown, the importance of customer experience is now trumping the importance of brand. You absolutely need to move away from silo-by-silo metrics and functionality and focus on true customer experience and growth. That requires decimating silos and moving towards what I call ‘one-company leadership.’

Actually, ‘one-company accountability’ and ‘proactive experience reliability’ are two of my five customer experience competencies. They are crucial for any type of customer growth.

What other connections have you seen between customer growth and experience reliability in your organization or individual career?

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