Shopper Experience and the Eight Ways It’s Killing Romance

I attend quite a few industry and corporate events that have a trade show. I always try and find time to walk the aisles to find out about the latest and greatest technologies and products that enhance the customer’s experience. At a recent event, I met some people from New Engen, a software platform that helps its clients (brands like 1-800-Flowers, Walmart, Hershey’s and many more) acquire new customers.

These people were fun and wanted to know why I wouldn’t write about them. I nicely informed them (as I have so many others) that I don’t typically write features on companies—instead I write about the lessons these companies can teach us. That’s a big difference.

The next day I walked by the booth again and they seemed even more excited than the day before. They took my response to heart and shared some clever ideas on what companies are doing to “kill the romance” between them and their customers. Specifically, they came up with eight mistakes.

I consider sales a part of customer service. Actually, any interaction that happens between a company’s employees and their customers is part of the customer service and experience journey. Since New Engen is focused on customer acquisition, it seems like providing a stellar service experience would be table stakes to win new business.

With that in mind, here are New Engen’s eight tips followed by my commentary.

1. “It’s complicated.” You’re making your customer’s relationship status with your brand difficult and complicated: If you’ve been following my work, you’ll know I believe in convenience, reducing (and eliminating) friction and making your customers’ experience less complicated. Keep it simple. When it comes to your ads, social media presence or website experience, stay out of your customer’s way. Customers hate friction. If that means investing in and learning a new system to ensure the customer spends the least amount of time navigating through your channels—do it. For your customer, it’ll be love at first sight.

2. You’re not putting yourself out there enough: If you’ve watched Brené Brown’s TED Talk or Netflix special, then you know the importance of being vulnerable in your relationships. The same goes for marketing and CX. Don’t play it safe. Put yourself and your brand out there. Make a statement. Be purpose-driven, bring the passion and stand for something.

3. You’re striking out on the first date data: New Engen suggests you ask yourself three “first data” questions: One, are your site analytics working properly? Two, is your data accurate? And three, what are you doing with that information? Over time, you will collect data from your customers. You won’t have to guess or make assumptions. Once you have that data, you need to know what to do. Collecting data and not taking advantage of it is like buying a winning lottery ticket but never cashing it in.

4. You’re striking out on the second date data: Maybe you did well with your first data experience. You decide to ask more questions and get more feedback. All of a sudden, it feels overwhelming. One of the original definitions of “Big Data” was that it was too much data. Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple.

5. You’re not asking questions because you’re worried you’ll look bad: I was always taught that there is no such thing as a bad question. If you need information, ask for it. I understand that customers may wonder why you’re asking certain questions—so tell them. Better to ask and have the right information than to make a mistake because you didn’t.

6. You’re in search of a love potion: When marketing works, it feels like magic. But it’s not. There’s no “love potion” or magic formula. It comes (usually) from understanding customers, a consistent message and a persistent effort.

7. You’re trying too hard: Trying too hard can kill the romance. Trying to be perfect is a good goal, but it’s not realistic. Stop over-engineering! When it comes to delivering customer service or designing the customer experience, the perfect solution may not be attainable. Customer service and CX are ever changing. Just when you think you have the perfect solution, something new comes along. The late, great Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Excellence is a good runner-up to perfection.

8. You’re insecure about your relationship: Lack of confidence can be a relationship killer—specifically, being worried about how you compare to your competition. It’s natural to benchmark and compare yourself to others, but that won’t always give you an effective measurement. You may be comparing yourself to the wrong thing. Then you find yourself straining to give your customer something they may not be interested in anyway. Find out why your customer loves you. Focus on that. In the self-improvement world, it is said that the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. That works in business as well!

In the end, you must always put your best foot forward with your customers. Know what you’re good at. Focus on the things you can control: your customer service, the quality of your product, the interactions you have on social media, your advertising… you get the idea. These are fundamental to the relationships you have with your customers. Done well, they set you apart from others. Do them so well that the customer knows they can always count on you. That’s the secret to any good relationship: the ability to count on each other.

Autor: Shep Hyken. Forbes