Top-notch Customer Experience: the nuts and bolts of your business

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

My leadership team recently attended a mobile development conference overseas. Upon their return, they shared with me many insights from the speakers there, which all seemed to touch on the criticality of the customer experience to a successful business. This got me thinking about my personal experiences as a customer, and also as a provider of customer experiences.

I can definitely recall my bad experiences out weighing the good by a long shot. It isn’t just the value in a product; it’s every role being played in the entire customer journey. When I run into a problem that I am unable to solve myself, I am usually forced to make a phone call. This typically drives me through a tree of channels before I can talk to a real live person. And 9 out of 10 times, the person is a) not very pleasant, b) has no idea how to help me, again putting me on hold for the umpteenth time, and c) comes up with some excuse as to why I can’t talk to their supervisor. At this point, what do I do? I hang up, and decide it’s time to switch to a new provider.

Customer experience isn’t just important in the mobile app development industry, it’s important in every business out there. When I go to a restaurant, the food can be outstanding; all the same, the service was atrocious. What is my final thought? I won’t be going back.

Customers are keen and have the virtue to choose between competing companies. With that being said, customer experience is the most crucial component of a service and product. The goal here isn’t just to focus on individual interactions with your customers, but rather the bigger picture – the entire customer journey. When you alter your mentality from spotlighting on individual interactions to the experience of the customer’s end-to-end journey, you will note one main thing – consistency.

A good customer experience doesn’t stop after a successful and well-educated on-boarding process. It carries throughout the entire relationship of their journey, from start to finish. You have the opportunity to deliver a crystal clear understanding on the possible ways you can provide your customers the least amount of effort for them to grow and adapt with you. At this point, you want to encourage them to explore and question the unknown.

With all that said, I think there are a few main points to focus in on for a ‘Top Notch Customer Experience’:

1 – Make sure you clearly define what you bring to the table

Your website might be pretty and have fancy pictures, but does it really relay what you offer? Do you tell the right stories in that initial engagement with a potential customer to make sure they can relate to how you can solve their problem? If not, you have some work to do. A picture can tell a thousand words only if it’s the right picture.

If your product isn’t applicable to your target audience, or it goes against what they envision or feel, it won’t succeed. Your delivery message should be relevant to your customers’ insights. It should tell them what they get, not how the product or service works, or how it is different from your competitors. Once you grab their attention, tell them about it. Don’t tell them about how you will provide the product or services, but what benefits they gain. Pitch information that will stimulate their curiosity. They will become self-assured of your effectiveness and want to know more about your product or services. Once your customers are confident, articulate how you will excel at implementing their needs. Identify the fine points of what they want or expect, and express that your product or services are adequate in delivering ‘top-notch’ satisfaction.

2 – Set yourself away from your competitors by focusing on how customers feel

In a world where innovation is prominent throughout many industries, customer experience is one of the greatest differentiating factors today. So why is it so important to touch point on how your customers feel about their experiences, and what happens when they feel their experience was bad?

Well, that’s pretty straightforward – they walk away. And it only takes ONE bad experience. And, why not? Your replacement is just a click away, in the convenience of your customer’s pockets – their smartphones.

Speaking of smartphones, let’s dive into the even scarier part. The impact of unfavorable word-of-mouth, most often displayed on social media. When I research a business, there tends to be more bad reviews then good. Praise is fleeting. People want to vent! And… they will. Pay attention to what your customers are writing about you, even comment back to them. Listening is a powerful thing.

Losing a customer can take a greater toll on your company than you might think. Not only is it expensive, once you’ve been replaced, the price of earning a new customer is much greater than the price of keeping an existing one. The power of negative feedback throughout social influence isn’t a pretty picture.

3 – Find where the gaps are and plug them

Like I said before, shift your mindset to the customer’s perspective. Look through a customer experience lens. Solving the problem is apparent, even if it isn’t always a piece of cake to conquer. Think about what your customers need in order to have a smooth sail in achieving their goals, whether this is a product purchase or after-sale service. You can find where the problems transpire, and understand how to fix them.

Here is the nitty-gritty; it’s awfully easy and very costly to lose customers due to crap service. So make the time to figure out where problems are occurring and why. Plug the gaps. Time spent on this won’t compare to the cost of continued loss of your customers. And you have to do this review OFTEN. You can’t do it once a year or even once every 6 months, it has to be constant so you can continuously evolve ‘with’ your customers. Doing this will leave a remarkable impression and you may be the establishment customers turn to when they have a bad experience elsewhere.

In the end, if you convey a worthy operation and the interaction between you and your customer is pleasant and unique, you leave your customer highly satisfied. Your customers come back for more as you exceed expectations that don’t necessarily have to do with your product or service. This embarks you on the journey of a long-lasting and meaningful relationship with your customers.

– Tayler


Remove the Stone

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

“I do not create a sculpture, I just remove the stone that does not belong, to reveal what was there all along.”

Thousands of years before Michelangelo thus described his art, another legendary sculptor, Pygmalion, removed the pieces of stone that did not belong – and revealed a woman’s form – so beautiful that he fell utterly in love with it.

A human being walking down the sidewalk, is cloaked in anonymity not too different from Michelangelo’s block of stone. You need to chisel away at the parts that don’t belong; to reveal a person that you can identify. Now, engage with her, watch her drape herself in silks and gold, gently dab on fine perfumes, watch her do the grocery and visit the grand malls. Now you know her, you fall in love with her, for she is the reason you exist, she is the reason the market exists, she is a customer.

So this is your mission – Identify, Onboard, Engage

You start off by meeting a stranger; your tools to remove the anonymity are the three factors of her identity:

Something she knows – like her name, her social security number, her date of birth, her address.
Something she has – her driver’s license, passport, mobile phone. AND,
Something she is – her biometrics, her face, voice, fingerprints, her eyes.

Get it right, because the alternative leaves you open to very significant risks. You could be defrauded, or worse, find yourself under the scanner of government regulators. But, once you get it right, you have on-boarded her. She has access to your products and services. You have welcomed her to your club.

She is a customer.

Now engage with her, let her access what she wants, when she wants, and how she wants to access it, no matter where she might physically be. Let her grow, encourage her progress towards becoming an increasingly valued customer, maybe even a Gold or Platinum customer.

You are the Financial Services Institution, you offer many different products with complex and involved on-boarding processes. Your customers live around the globe.

We are IDmission. We offer you the tools to remove the unwanted stone so you can reveal your Galatea and fall in love with each one of your millions of customers.

– Ashim


Leapfrog

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

We played this game as kids, one would rest his hands on his knees and bend forward. The second would take a running start and bound over the first kid by placing his hands on the bent back in a frog like vault. A successful vault would result in the two kids bent forward and the third now attempting to vault the two and so on. Typically after the third there was the real danger of the vault bringing the whole lot down with the leaper landing on some unfortunate kid’s back. We learnt later that this was an ancient game, played all over the world, known commonly, and appropriately, in English as leapfrog.

Still later, we learnt that our poor old childhood game was played, with equal zest, by companies and indeed by entire countries. Only, instead of little boys taking running starts, the leaping was done by new technology. Telephony is a good example. Thousands of miles of copper wire was laid across continents to enable people to talk to each other, regardless of the physical distance between them. Tone dialing telephones graduated to pulse, quality of voice improved significantly and the network of copper cables kept expanding till it covered the world. Well, actually it covered the industrialized world, leaving vast swathes of the globe without the resources to compete. Then, as predicted by Nicholas Negroponte, came the big switch. Wireless telephony. No more need to lay copper, a few cellular towers could cover a city with mobile telephony – the developing world grabbed this opportunity to “leapfrog” generations of land line telephony and vault directly into a mobile world. And now, this mobile revolution has enabled the creation of leapfrog technologies in a number of different areas.

Financial Inclusion, is critical for developing countries, as they strive to pull billions of people out of poverty by enabling them access to financial systems. The first step is on-boarding. On-boarding at its most basic, involves the applicant filling out a paper form. In some cases this paper is carried through, but more commonly the information is rendered electronic by manual entry into a computer system. The natural next step is to enable applications to be entered digitally on Web Forms, progressing to Mobile Apps and finally Smart Apps. The result – increased throughput, reduced errors and a dramatically better user experience.

Clearly a leapfrog opportunity.

But increased access to financial services brings with it potential for fraud, money laundering, and a host of undesirable activities. To manage the risk, there must be a corresponding leap in establishing customer identity.

Identity management follows a similar progression. The spectrum here goes from people with no way to establish their identity, to some who have paper documents, to combinations of paper documents with machine readable elements, to biometrics verified on-line and in real-time. The relationship between the technology progression for on-boarding and for Know Your Customer (KYC) is obvious. Paper on-boarding can only support paper documents and so on. Ob-boarding using Smart Apps coupled with on-line biometric KYC, offer the most convenient, safe and effective granting to the financial systems for new customers.

Now a leapfrog opportunity over two rows of technologies – Leapfrog2.

Having access to the financial systems is of little value unless one can move money, typically in the form of Payments. The Lydians first revolutionized payments by creating currency – coins, that were a far better payment mechanism then the existing barter system. The Medici banks introduced checks, two thousand years later. Bank cards, networked credit and debit cards became popular in the last 50 years. The last few years have seen an explosion in payments technologies – Mobile, Wallets, Digital currency are just a few examples. So there is an opportunity to on-board with effective KYC and enable payments – safely, seamlessly and globally.

Leapfrog3.

IDmission’s flagship system of engagement INFORM coupled with Ada our platform on the Cloud, brings to the modern enterprise all the technology necessary to enable Leapfrog3.

Playing leapfrog as children, we never made successful leaps longer than three, with the third frog bearing the brunt of the attempted fourth leap. But we never stopped trying. So this really is about LeapfrogN.

It just so happens that N=3 at this point in time.

My best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a truly great New Year.

– Ashim