Cus­tomer

To cre­ate a world-class cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence a busi­ness must widen the cus­tomer in­ti­macy model be­yond un­der­stand­ing what the cus­tomer wants and de­liv­er­ing it to them any way it can. By Dr Mike Ashby.

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all about the cus­tomer’.”

Many own­ers pride them­selves on be­ing really re­spon­sive, ag­ile, proac­tive, friendly – all wrapped up in some­thing called ‘per­sonal ser­vice’. How­ever, busi­nesses based on that de­gree of per­sonal ser­vice are barely busi­nesses be­cause it’s really hard to scale up. You don’t have stan­dard prod­ucts; you cre­ate the so­lu­tion for each cus­tomer. You don’t have stan­dard pro­cesses; you do it a dif­fer­ent way each time.

At the start the busi­ness de­pends on you, but even if you man­age to trans­fer that knowl­edge to some­one else, the busi­ness de­pen­dency then trans­fers to them. The offering is mod­i­fied in the course of the in­ter­ac­tion with the cus­tomer. In fact, the cus­tomer al­most de­fines the offering and it could be dif­fer­ent each time and with each cus­tomer.

If you want to achieve scale, you have to stan­dard­ise, stream­line, au­to­mate. That doesn’t work where your of­fer is be­spoke.

In terms of po­si­tion­ing, I think it’s nec­es­sary to widen the cus­tomer in­ti­macy model be­yond un­der­stand­ing what the cus­tomer wants and de­liv­er­ing it to them any way we can. To es­cape the trap of be­ing for­ever bou­tique, we have to think about cre­at­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence for the cus­tomer that feels to them like an in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence in a deeply per­sonal way, but which is ac­tu­ally pro­duced for ev­ery sin­gle cus­tomer.

Let’s call this the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence model, but let’s go one bet­ter and call it a world-class cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. I like this idea be­cause it tran­scends ser­vice or even prod­uct. It en­gages ev­ery­one in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, be­cause in a world-class cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, even ad­min­is­tra­tion is cus­tomer ser­vice. There is no such thing as front and back of­fice – ev­ery­thing is front of­fice in a world-class cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

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