What Customer Experiences Are Core To Your Business?

by Joanna Pineda Posted on January 21, 2009

Customer Service Survey During the last couple of weeks, I made presentations to a couple of clients. The first client thinks we’re good but they’re not raving fans. The second client thinks Matrix Group is fantastic, we are a solid partner and we have contributed greatly to their success. I asked my Client Services Directors: why is there a difference in how these two clients perceive us, our work and our value to them?

The ensuing discussion was an interesting one. We decided that all talk of what we actually do aside (Web design, integration, content management, hosting, yada, yada), what ultimately makes a client a raving fan is whether or not they have certain experiences with us. Regardless of how much money they spend or the type of work they ask us to do, there are core customer experiences that are critical to a client’s happiness.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking non-stop about what constitutes an organization’s core customer experiences.  I analyzed my membership in the CEO organization Vistage.  Vistage offers members a number of services and benefits but the core experiences are: one on one coaching, world class speakers and issue processing with peers.  Ultimately, if I don’t feel satisfied that I am getting my money’s worth in all three areas, I’m probably not going to keep my membership.  In other words, no matter how good the Web site or the social events, if I am not supremely satisfied with my core experiences, I am going to bail.

I’ve been huddling with my team and working to define our core customer experiences.  (We must assume that clients want a fair price for our work, excellent work, and on time results.)  So far, we’ve come up with:

These all sound like good ideas, right?  And we should be engaging in every single one of them, with every single client.  But how do you “fund” regular check-ins and brainstorming for every client, including ones who aren’t doing a lot of business with you and/or who have very limited budgets?  And how do you get people to come to you when they’re busy, you’re always happy to come to them or they’re out of state?  Does this mean we can’t have a meaningful, relationship with clients who don’t host with us?

These are good questions, but over the next few months, we’ve pledged to identify the core Matrix Group customer experiences, get feedback from customers, come up with a systematic way of giving all clients more love, and make more of our clients raving fans.

How about you?  What customer experiences are core to your business?

4 replies on “What Customer Experiences Are Core To Your Business?”

What about other pieces of the customer experience? Sales, billing, issue resolution? I offer that you might not need to have every customer go through each of the experiences you mention, especially if they are not inclined to do so. Understanding the Matrix customer lifecycle, and making sure each interaction in that lifecycle exceeds customer expectations, might drive as many customers to the “excellent” level.

Susan, you make an excellent point about sales, billing and issue resolution! We hadn’t gotten to examining those customer experiences yet, but your are absolutely right. When we screw up and do a good job of fixing the problem in a timely manner, don’t bill for the fix, and communicate promptly, that does a lot to cement our relationship with a client! We are examining all areas of customer experiences — thank you for opening our eyes to another aspect of our business that is core!

As usual Joanna, I am stimulated, served and challenged this latest blog. You might add to your menu of offerings: frequent, stimulating blogging!
You obviously applied yourself to this inquiry of what it takes to attract and keep a client delighted and bonded to your company. As you build your menu of potentially critical client experiences, we know that no one can consume everything on the dinner menu. Nor can we afford to throw in everything for every client. I agree with Susan, “…you might not need to have every customer go through each of the experiences….”
From prospective customer through long-term client, regular questioning and listening to what is important to each can produce fantastic results. There is no point in providing a “benefit” that a particular client could not care less about. And especially in these challenging economic times we are attracted to and stick with the suppliers and partners who listen carefully and respond by coming through.

Susan and Lowell, you make great points about not all customers able and willing to participate in all customer experiences. I have read and reread your comments and will continue to ponder them. It seems to me now that the key is to figure out what combinations of experiences, and how often, bond a client to Matrix Group. Thank you for your thoughtful contributions!

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