Tag Archives: CEM

Three Reasons to Understand the Customer Perspective

I received an email offer the other day that was attempting to persuade me towards an upgrade of a graphics software package I’ve used off and on for a couple years.

I went to the web site and discovered there were three different versions available: Basic, Advanced, and Pro. I could click on each of them, even compare them side by side, and in the end couldn’t decide which one I wanted based on anything other than price…so I bought nothing.

The trouble was that the descriptions of the packages were all written from a sales perspective, this or that attractive feature designed to entice me to buy. But when a feature is described in technical jargon, Dyspeptic Flabberhaven Interface, it sounds impressive but confusing. WHY do I need a DFI? Who knows.

A web site I have really come to appreciate and frequently use is CNET.com. CNET reviews products like cameras and laptops and home appliances but the bit I like best are the buying guides. The CNET buying guides aren’t there to help you compare Flabberhaven capability but to solve your problem.

You want to buy a digital camera? Cool. What do you want to do with it? Kids sport photography? Portraits? Landscapes? Start a business? The buying guides use a series of question to guide you toward the right model and feature set. In short, they take the customer perspective.

In my last post I suggested that the customer experience is guided by a couple of simple questions:

  • Should I explore?
  • Should I buy?
  • Should I promote?

So much of what you find on web sites these days is designed to drive right to that second question: Should I buy? Without providing anything other than a call out of feature and function to persuade a prospective buyer.

And if that seems to work why think about the customer perspective at all?

Reason #1: It says you understand the customer
As mentioned above the CNET buying guides are a great example of how to communicate an understanding of the customer. If I am looking for technology I go there first before I go to any retailer of manufacturer site BECAUSE those guides scream out…we know you.

If you can show that you know me as a customer it helps convince me that your product will meet my need.

Reason #2: It changes the way you present information
If you understand that there are a number of people coming to your web site or contacting you via phone or email that are exploring, looking to learn more about you as a possible solution to a need, you start to present information differently.

I love using churches as examples. Think of one major reason an non-attender would decide they want to go to church. Life Crisis? Return to childhood faith? Searching for meaning? Curiosity?

Go to most church web sites however and what you’ll find…well, you’ll find a mess if you look at enough of them…but what you’ll find it a list of features and functions. “We’re a welcoming community where you’ll feel right at home.” “We’re not like your parents church.” “Church for today’s generation.”

Understanding WHY people are exploring you changes the information you present. True for churches, true for purveyors of software.

Reason #3: It sets the foundation for customer loyalty
When a vendor shows from the outset that they care enough to help me explore them and assists me in buying by displaying an understanding of my need they communicate an expertise that drives me towards loyalty from my first interaction.

If you can show that you know as much about me as a perspective customer as you do about your product you build trust from the start.

This simple list doesn’t come close to uncovering all the changes in business process and strategy that a deep understanding of the customer perspective engenders but it is a good place to start. Which leads me to today’s question:

How well does your organization, business, newsletter, understand the perspective of your customers and if you understood that perspective more intimately what would you change?

Managing Customer Experience: Two Perspectives

There is quite a lot being said, and written, about Customer Experience Management these days and it can easily be overlooked as something that only applies to a small number of specific industries: retail, services, CPG etc.

The truth is that the thought process around managing customer experiences applies to just about ANY interaction between an organization and the people who use the goods or services of that organization.

  • Non-profits like to think of these people as donors of constituents, but they ARE customers.
  • Churches like to think of these people as members but they ARE customers.
  • Youth sports organizations like to think of these people as players but they ARE customers.

I think you get the idea.

When thinking about managing a customer experience it is important to remember that there are two distinct perspectives involved, each with their own set of drivers.

Perspective #1: Inside Looking Out
This is the easy one to think through because it is the perspective of the organization that has customers.

The inside looking out perspective is generally guided by four questions that drive ever deepening levels of engagement with customers. The answers to these questions help shape the experience from the inside looking out point of view:

  • What do we Know? (General customer demographic info)
  • What do we Do? (Segmentation and campaigns)
  • What do we Suggest? (Loyalty and engagement)
  • What do we Create? (The set of experiences that drive movement)

Obviously a lot more could be said here but these four question provide the framework for developing progressively more robust customer experiences.  Using one of our less obvious “industry” choices from above:

  • Churches first need to know who is attending, even basic name address and phone number helps, but learning more about their family is even better information: kids? ages? interests?
  • Then they need to target communication that is pertinent to the attender. You wouldn’t want to send a new visitor who is a 65 yr old retiree information about nursery services on Sunday morning.
  • Once they get to know the person and their family suggesting ways to get involved, ways to feel plugged in, that are specific to them becomes important in terms of creating stickiness.
  • Thinking through how you then keep the new family coming based on multiple anchor points is important. How many churches have had the discussion about having services for everything from pre-school through high school on the same night mid-week in order to create “family time”?

Perspective #2: Outside Looking In

This perspective is often the forgotten point of view. Customers are the one “having the experience” so it is crucial to remember they are looking at it through a different set of questions:

  • Should I Explore? (Deciding if they want to know more about you)
  • Should I Buy? (Deciding if they will buy)
  • Should I Promote? (Deciding if they’ll recommend you to friends)

How about a youth soccer program this time:

  • Parents know about clubs other than the ones their kids are involved in and have to make a decision about whether or not to explore a competitors policies, costs, teams, and coaches.
  • Once they becomes educated the next decision is whether or not to have their child play for that club.
  • If the experience is a good one they can become a significant recruiting source based on what they tell other parents.

I’ll write more about how to manage these two perspectives in days to come but for now it is important to remember that they both exist and they’re both driven by different sets of questions. Understanding how your customers move through their own questions is key to bringing these two perspectives into alignment.

What do you provide that helps your customers make their three decision to explore, buy, and promote?