More Is More When It Comes to Customer Experience
The following is an excerpt from Blake Morgan's new book More is More. Get your own copy by clicking here.
Today’s digital environment is increasingly complex. Customers are using new channels faster than brands can establish a presence on those channels, and by the time a brand has mastered engagement on one channel, customers are onto the next one.
While some brands struggle to create a meaningful digital experience for customers, others have missed the boat completely. The past few years have seen one big-box retailer after the other disappear, as the Internet has destroyed some businesses and given birth to many others. Given the increasingly complex digital landscape, it’s difficult to know where a brand can even start.
My new book More Is More sets you up for success, outlining the key areas you need to address immediately so you can weather external changes, remain relevant, and thrive in the ever-changing business landscape.
The idea that customers are valuable and should be treated well so they come back is not new. We’ve been talking about it for decades. So why are we still having the same conversations, year after year?
My theory is that boards and CEOs refuse to focus on long-term gains because they are shackled by the pressure of quarterly profits. The pressure to produce more with less and do it faster has an unfortunate effect on the way resources are allocated. Generally, sales and marketing are the first departments to receive resources, and other areas of the business that affect customer experiences are an afterthought.
Many of us who advocate for customers within our organizations, and those of us who have frustrating experiences as customers, are still banging our heads against the wall. In many organizations, nothing has changed in the last thirty years: Customer experience remains an afterthought.
Easy, simple, and painless are not words generally associated with customer experience. If you are a person in modern society, then you have likely had a terrible customer experience in the recent past. It’s unavoidable.
Misconceptions about what compels customers to come back abound. Customers do not come back just because you offer the cheapest product. They don’t flock to you because you have the flashiest marketing campaign.
The reason customers come back? Because you provide a superior product or service, and you do it in a way that makes customers’ lives better and easier. Let’s consider a modern truth: Brands need to create beautifully simple and easy customer experiences. The easier you can make life for your customers at the outset, the less likely it is that you will need to do damage control after a sale.
That means your products must work like they’re supposed to, that the end product you provide to the customer has been fully vetted, and that every possible problem scenario has been evaluated. Most companies continue to provide half-baked products and services, and as a result, they spend a lot of time fixing things for customers after the fact.
Internal processes and operations are broken and are so unfriendly to the customer that damage control is an everyday reality for most companies. Unfortunately, many companies have accepted this mediocre state and feel powerless to change it; instead, they’ve set up customer service departments to address customer concerns after the fact.
But what if the experience was so simple, so smart, and so consistent that we didn’t need customer service anymore? I’m talking about a company that is so good it doesn’t have unhappy customers contacting it. This is a fantasy world, of course.
Even the highest-performing companies have customer hiccups. It’s an unavoidable part of life. Your customers are human beings, and human beings will always have unique issues that need to be addressed. And even with the best of intentions, things go wrong, whether it’s due to company error or customer error.
However, we’ve created and settled for business systems that are toxic—and instead of fixing the system, we are focused on being firefighters. We have a mentality that “things break down, and we have a department for when they do.” I suggest that you instead spend more time developing better core systems to make life easier for your company and better for your customers.
Let’s talk about why customer experiences often fall short. One reason is that the people who make the product are disconnected from the people who consume the product. While some companies enjoy the benefits of highly collaborative and open environments, many still operate as though we are at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
One group is responsible for making one piece of the product, another group is responsible for another, and the many groups that pass the products or service down the line don’t interact. A disconnected customer experience is the result of a disconnected employee experience.
Companies that operate like this do not orbit around the customers—the customers orbit around the company. If every employee who was involved with the creation of the product had more insight into the customer who uses the product, those employees would understand how to make better products.
Brands are in such a rush to produce and make profits that they’re not slowing down to put the entire company into orbit around the customer. As habits expert Gretchen Rubin says, they are not “going slow to go fast.”
Companies need to take more time up front to think intelligently about the customer who will use the product—and what that experience should be. An unfortunate reality is that most employees—whether these employees are leaders or not—have no idea what the customer’s experience is like.
Going Slow to Go Fast
Companies would benefit greatly from considering how every single decision affects the customer experience. They would be wildly successful if only they had a constant reminder of the customer’s presence in every meeting.
Companies are missing the boat when it comes to the full customer experience, including advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability. They are missing key steps to building robust customer experiences and, as a result, they rely on damage control. Here’s why: Organizations are terrified to slow down and be thoughtful.
Companies face increasing pressure to perform on a quarterly basis, and the race to hit financial marks does not leave room for anything but the making of products and services. There is no time for anyone to stop and think about how the sausages are made.
But as we rush to produce more, faster, we are leaving important ingredients out of the recipe. We are missing important steps that will improve the customer experience by leaps and bounds. To create better products, companies need to slow down and think about their approach. However, they feel they can’t slow down until they make a certain amount in profits, and that won’t happen until the approach changes, creating a catch-22. We need to stop and think about how we’re doing what we’re doing—and, most importantly, why!