Going the extra mile for customers is as cheap as horsefeed, says Jacqueline Ireland. And very effective.
Going the extra mile is worth it, says Jacqueline Ireland.
ANYONE WITH TODDLERS IN the house will know that an iPad is like catnip. Leave it lying around anywhere in the vicinity and you will find them curled up somewhere, swiping their little grubby fingers across it and navigating the apps with a kind of intuitive ease and natural ability that takes an adult’s breath away.
Another thing that recently took my breath away was being billed $ 140 from iTunes for something called ‘virtual horse feed’. When I had regained my composure, I realised that my five-year-old had racked up this sum on a game she finds irresistible—‘My Horse’. Ignorance was my only defence so I promptly emailed the company, pleading for forgiveness, while quietly also steeling myself for battle should my pleas fall on deaf ears.
To my surprise and delight, however, iTunes refunded the amount in full, no questions asked, and assured me I was not the only techno-dunce parent out there (“It happens all the time” was, I think, the exact quote). Quick to thank them for their wonderful, empathetic service, I received another response from the company: “Dear Jacqueline, Thank you for your reply, this is Sugata from iTunes customer support. Jacqueline, you’re very welcome. I’m glad to hear that your issue has been resolved. Nothing makes Apple happier than to hear that we have pleased our customers. I hope that you continue to enjoy the iTunes Store. Have a good day! Sincerely, Sugata.”
It’s a response that, while quick and painless to compile, has paid off for Apple. Recommendation is a powerful force and can make or break a brand even more quickly in this connected world.
I have told countless people my story, and will continue to extol the praises of Apple as an organisation that I truly believe is dedicated to making my life easier and more enjoyable. And in doing so, it has set a new benchmark for me in terms of the level of service I know I can expect. Meeting those high expectations challenges any brand, including Apple, to consistently improve.
And consistently improving, striving to stand above the crowd and offering something that goes above and beyond your competitors has never been more important, despite the fact that customer loyalty, across the board, is on the rise.
We’ve been tracking Net Promoter Scores (calculated by subtracting those who would recommend an organisation from those who would not) across a range of service industries over the last four years, and in every case the score is improving over time.
It seems that after several decades of focusing on improving the customer experience, business is starting to see the results of all its efforts. The real challenge, however, is that everyone IT SEEMS THAT AFTER SEVERAL DECADES OF FOCUSING ON IMPROVING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE, BUSINESS IS STARTING TO SEE THE
RESULTS OF ALL ITS EFFORTS. is improving at roughly the same rate. Across industries and categories we are witnessing a normalisation of satisfaction levels, with very little difference between the main players. The reality is that most are hovering around the 7.5 out of ten mark, with very few breaking through the eight out of ten barrier.
The improvement in customer satisfaction and loyalty is driven by fewer really unhappy customers, rather than any significant rise in those who are delighted. Businesses today are less likely to get things badly wrong on a regular basis, and as a result there is less of a push for customers to actively look around for alternatives. Relationships are ‘stickier’, and there has to be a really compelling offer or proposition to disrupt people out of their inertia and encourage them to switch.
So what does the next generation of customer experience leaders look like? How do they separate themselves from the rest of the pack? The answer is pretty simple, if not frequently hard to embed in an organisation. In short, having addressed the real problem areas in the service that customers receive, attention now needs to move to delivering a truly distinctive experience that reflects who you are and what you stand for. Connecting and engaging with customers in a way that is uniquely ‘ you’, also termed the branded or purpose-driven experience, is easy to recognise when you experience it.
And in my view, Apple’s one brand that has absolutely got it right.
Written by JACQUELINE IRELAND Ireland is chief executive of Colmar Brunton. Jacqueline.ireland@ colmarbrunton. co.nz