How to Electrify the Customer Experience

By Mitch Tidman, Managing Director, Palladium Marketing; Co-founder, Salestratus Inc., CX & Sales Enablement Community Leader, AMA Cincinnati

We’ll start off with the simple truth about customer experiences:

All customer experiences are personal and involve individual human beings.

This implies that you, the business owner, brand manager, or customer experience specialist, have no control over how a person experiences your brand. At best, you can seek to create an environment and context that you think are conducive to a person feeling empowered, connected, valued, and inspired.

After years of studying these phenomena and practicing them daily, I developed some formulas which, at the very least, offer a framework of how to best position brands to achieve the tenets of empowerment, connection, inspiration, and value. I’ll develop a few of them here and invite you to join the conversation at several events happening over the next week at our CX and Sales Enablement Community on 9/18 and at IGNITE! Regional Conference on Customer Experience on 9/20 and 9/21.

THEM, NOT US

Brands tend towards talk about themselves, what they’ve done, what they are good at, why they are considered the best in their field, or worse, what product lines are available. They do it because it’s safe, it’s comfortable, and it’s what they’ve been told to do.

Companies always evoke the beloved elevator pitch, as if it makes even the slightest bit of difference in an initial interaction. It doesn’t!

What makes a difference is the ability to listen, to empathize, to understand, and to show interest in what the customer is going through with your brand on a personal level.

I visited the Apple Inc, Executive Briefing Center in Cupertino, CA, and they demonstrated how to take the customization of the experience to a whole new level. They had customer profile sheets for sales people to complete that included details of each customer, their pain points, their interests, and even what they were passionate about.

Using that information, they crafted an agenda that matched each of the points one by one. They proved time and time again that personalizing the experience had an incredible impact on the connection to the brand and purchase behavior.

SURPRISE!

The element of surprise is a concept introduced in the 1999 book by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy, and can be used to great effect when creating the environment for an exceptional experience.

Surprise is defined as “an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing.” The element of surprise can be introduced in retail or corporate spaces, where sight lines, journeys, or events are mapped in a certain way to allow for discovery at each phase. The same principle can be applied to online experiences or trade show designs.

The key idea is to not unveil everything in the first interaction. Build anticipation, leave out details on an agenda, introduce something or someone new that could positively affect the situation.

Isn’t it great when unexpectedly, a brand you are working with does something out of the blue that you were not expecting…especially when it is relevant to your personal situation? Some of the best examples of this are the cabin crew on cruise line ships. They are trained to listen, pick up on things you’ve said, and provide a personalized surprise here and there to bring delight to your day. This goes a long way to feeling relevant, valued, and connected.

DON’T SELL – SIMULATE THE FUTURE

The days of demonstrating products are over. Having the impression of being sold to is very off-putting. People want to learn, interact, and experience, and then they want to review, reflect, and compare.

By enabling prospective customers to learn, interact, and have an experience with your brand, you are creating the conditions that lead to empowerment, connectedness, value, and inspiration.

While doing interviews for a large healthcare company on customer experience, the customer told me, “Don’t show me what I already have. Don’t recreate the environment I am already used to. Show me the future, where this going, what I can expect in the years to come.” This one phrase slapped me right in face and shaped the way we designed our center and built the experience.

One of the best examples of this was a concept another healthcare group called the Five Senses Tunnel. It targeted caregivers working in nursing homes and featured a space where they could experience a day in the life of Alzheimer’s patients, whose senses diminish rapidly once the disease takes hold. They were asked to perform certain tasks, wearing ear plugs to simulate loss of hearing, thick glasses to simulate loss of sight, and gloves to simulate sensory impairment. Once they had been through the experience, they could see the product designs in a very different light.

The point is to get creative about educating your customers in an interactive setting that is memorable and fun.

All customer experiences are personal and involve individual human beings.

We cannot truly make a person feel one way or another—only they can. However, we can create triggers that help people feel special, listened to, and powerful.

Join me at the IGNITE conference on September 21, 2018 at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, OH, where I’ll be expanding on these and other concepts to electrify your customer experiences.  

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