10 Tips for Differentiating Customer Experiences

Updated: May 21, 2010

How do you invent great customer experiences?

1) Find out what outcomes customers expect. This is different from product or service features. Those are just means-to-an-end. The outcome is what the customer really buys.

2) Find out how customers make value judgments of each outcome.
This is different from satisfaction levels. They want outcome A to be minimized, or outcome B to be increased — get the customers' wording for this, and maintain that wording to measure your performance.

3) Find out #1 and #2 for the whole customer experience — from the point when the customer becomes aware of a need through the point when the customer no longer perceives that need.

4) Think about your role in helping the company succeed on #1 and #2 and #3 above. You do play a role in customer experience. Discuss it with your peers. Make good things happen.

5) Track the customer's value quotient: the ratio of desired outcomes to undesired outcomes. This gives you an idea of how much value versus hassle the customer sees. Customer behavior follows this automatic benefit-cost analysis.

6) Monitor your motives. If your primary reason for any decision or behavior truly has the customer's best interest (see #1 and #2 above) at heart, then you're on-track. On the other hand, if your own gain is the primary reason, with customer's gain as a secondary reason, then you're on the wrong track.

7) Borrow ideas from others. Not just competitors, or you'll only be a me-too company. Be curious and open-minded about how other industries and cultures do things. Learn from them, adapt and experiment, and use what works.

8 Be creative. "There's this common perception that some people are creative and most aren't. That's just not true. As a leader, you want everyone in your organization producing novel and useful ideas. The fact is, all the research in this field shows that anyone with normal intelligence is capable of doing some degree of creative work."1

9) Love complaints. When a customer take the time to share suggestions or vent frustrations, you can bet they're representative of a larger number of customers that share that sentiment — or soon will, unless an improvement occurs. Better for you to hear it and make the change before your competitors take that revenue stream.

10) Make quarterly — or more frequent — assessments of your policies, processes, skills, motivations, products and services. Assess them from the customer's viewpoint. Always keep on the lookout for ways to invent great customer experiences.

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