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Why I Have No Idea if Other Coffee Shops are Good

How Starbucks models the long-term benefits of great customer experience.
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And Other Benefits of Excellent Customer Experience

I must admit, I'm a Starbucks loyalist.

The reason is that on top of having flavors that tickle my palette, I know that I’ll be treated with superb service—and that if anything goes wrong, it will be handled as if I were a premium customer.

I could get the cheapest drink on the menu and occupy space at the store for a few hours, but that doesn't change the way they serve me. I'm served based on my value rather than my worth.

As a result, whenever I'm thinking about where I should go to work or meet up with a friend, Starbucks is always first on my list.

When a customer is based on his or her worth, bigger clients will receive better service while smaller clients will be captive to the strict law of “policy.” However, this is shortsighted thinking. Customers should be regarded for their greater value rather than their worth because you never know where they will end up in the future.

Just think about this: if their small-scale, short-term customer experience with your company was positive, what might happen when those individuals move on to a bigger project or position? The same small-bit players can become your greatest promoters within their circles—without even the need to market to them.

3 Steps to Providing Great Customer Experiences

So, how do you deliver true value to your customers who are worth more than their worth? Here are three quick tips to deliver a stellar customer experience:

1. Anticipate their needs - If you can clearly define the customer journey from start to finish, you'll be a step ahead of the game. The idea is to sit down with key players within the organization and figure out the customer experience leading up to and after a purchase, common pain points, and other vital interactions with your brand. (A journey map is very helpful in this context.)

Where could your customers potentially experience the biggest roadblocks with your product or service? Where are the key opportunities or moments to delight them? This sort of thoughtful planning and open dialogue with your team will help you determine what's really essential, and what's really not.

2. Set the proper expectations - Your customers should be fully aware of what they should expect from you on a regular basis. If there are no clear boundaries defined, then this could be a cause for undue disappointment or unrealistic demands.

In as much as you value your customers and desire to give them everything they need for success, there's only so much you're capable of doing. Know your limits. You need to know how far you're able to go for customers, so that you can tell them early on what you will be able to do for them.

Customers that understand what to expect from you during a dire situation will be able to plan accordingly.

3. Respond quickly, no matter what - Time is considered the highest value to many people, and, often, time spent waiting on the phone or in long lines or on company feedback can lead to moments of frustration.

If customers are filing tickets or voicing complaints, are they simply sitting by the wayside? Or is your company actively trying to manage those concerns? Empower your team to engage with customers and listen to them, even if answers aren't always immediately available.

Having the ability to act quickly will not only prevent tension, but also create fans that will root for and become loyal to you. And once you have fans, you basically have walking advertisements.

Putting Customer Experience Principles into Practice

Certainly, it's not enough to just know about these principles; you also need to apply them in the real world. To illustrate this more clearly, here's a practical example.

Let's say you work at a software company. First, in the process of anticipating their needs, you might determine that your customers often run into issues with patch downloads and upgrades. The solution could be building a customer portal that provides an array of helpful information, resources or preferences. You can offer official documentation on clustering, upgrades, and other common issues that your customers might come across.

Perhaps users can also gain access to extra information that will help them set up their environment. It can become a one-stop shop that provides all necessary support content for any of your customers. By setting up a convenient way for them to receive the help they need, it would allow for better interactions with your company.

But what if your customers don't have support accounts? Your support engineers or customer experience managers should direct those customers to other available resources in the public. Here, most of them will be able to find their answers or ask the experts in your community.

By doing this, you would be setting the proper expectations and defining the scope of what non-paying (vs. paying) customers should expect in terms of service, yet still helping to meet and serve their needs.

And through it all, your team is responding in a timely and appropriate fashion. Your PR staff is driving the conversation with customers, letting them know about upcoming release dates and features. And when expected target dates aren't being met, they'll be the first to let customers know and help to realign proper expectations. So even when problems arise—and inevitably, they will—you're turning possible obstacles into opportunities for building friendships.

It is this sort of "extra-mile" attitude that can take organizations to the next level. You should be passionate about adding value to your customers by offering both relevant customer experiences and fantastic service. The efforts will go a long way in turning mere customers into loyalists.

Three Key Strategies for Consistent Customer Experiences

Would you like to learn more about how to deliver a great customer experience? Our whitepaper talks about the shift towards omnichannel interactions and offers three strategies to successfully engaging your customers.

Read the Whitepaper  
Originally published
June 9, 2016
 last updated
October 9, 2017
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