Over the years, Miron has worked hard to understand the customer experience. We’ve researched the top brands in healthcare, manufacturing, financial, and not-for-profit industries. Here’s what we learned: organizations that intentionally design the customer experience to create specific emotional outcomes are the ones that outperform their competitors—not by a little, but by a factor of 25. The common thread in each of these organizations is a core understanding of the power of clues, and intentionally orchestrating all of those clues (people, process, and place) to create an emotional outcome that is memorable. A second thread is that they are repeatable. Employees/team members understand their role as co-creators in delivering on customers’ expectations. More than delivering on expectations, they actively work to create experiences that surprise and delight. As a builder, this is incredibly important to understand. We want to construct environments that support the designed experience, not detract from it.
A decade ago, I traveled for work five days a week, four weeks a month. Living out of hotel rooms was the norm, and these experiences ran the gamut from horrible, to forgettable, to a few positive, memorable ones. During one of my last trips, I experienced a hotel stay that was not only unforgettable, but resulted in an emotional connection that I’ve told many others about over the years. Long story short, I had a cancelled flight. My luggage was lost. My rental car broke down. If it could go wrong on this trip, it did. When I called the hotel to update them on my situation, they created an experience I will never forget. They arranged for me to be picked up from the side of the highway, where my rental car had broken down. Upon arrival at the hotel, they had a special meal delivered to my room. They provided a gift card to a local store for a change of clothes, and even arranged to have my lost luggage shipped to my next trip location. Since that trip, I have stayed at that hotel (Hampton Inn) 15+ times, and they have created surprise and delight every time. To say I am a loyal customer is an understatement.
If an organization can find ways to provide an experience unlike their competitors, they can command the space in their industry. The story I shared above is a classic example of an organization that has built a customer experience centered on creating positive emotional outcomes. This approach focuses squarely on capturing and understanding customers’ experiences, not simply their view of the process—for instance, the speed and efficiency at which they travel through the system. Instead, it deliberately draws out the personal feelings a customer has at crucial points during their experience. Organizations that intentionally design these experiences to create emotional outcomes generate tremendous customer loyalty and consistently outperform their competitors.
I recently read an article by Patrick Hopkins, president/CEO of Imaginasium (a brand experience firm) regarding the idea that efficiency isn’t always best when it comes to the end-user customer experience. In fact, many businesses that work to make their customer encounters as efficient as possible end up creating new barriers and, therefore, less satisfying experiences for their customers. Unfortunately, this hyper-focus on efficiency can sometimes inhibit a really well-intended and unique customer experience. This can happen when the focus is purely on efficiency, rather than the emotional connection created with the customer. In this article, Patrick shares some great tips to help plan and design a better customer experience.