Monday, March 28, 2016

Don’t Just Make the Sale, Create an Advocate!

Some would argue that with the prevalence of technology and social media, there is a growing disconnect in the world of customer experience. But the way I see it, it’s a breeding ground for opportunities to build advocacy among your customers.

Gone are the days of consumers sitting helplessly on hold at the other end of a generic 1-800-number waiting for help (well, maybe not completely, but times have sure changed).

Now, with social media and the ever-growing online presence of today’s consumers, companies have so many touch points to engage in dialogue and forge relationships. I write a lot about customer experience from a variety of perspectives and angles, and this recent story from Inc Magazine about Casper, really intrigued me.

Casper is essentially turning the sleep business on its head. It’s no secret that shopping for a mattress is not the most exciting experience – more of a necessary evil. People often roam around stores, touching, sitting, laying, even bouncing, on mattress after mattress until they find the right fit. It’s also a super personal decision because everyone has different requirements for a mattress. It’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all racket.

So what did Casper do to shake things up? Sure, they did market research and tons of testing and marketing. But they made a bolder move than others in their industry. They decided to make one single model mattress that would meet the sleep needs of the widest variety of consumers using a cross-section of the best materials to achieve an almost universal comfort. Definitely a big risk. Most of the company’s competitors have model after model with nuanced differences (that makes mattress buying confusing and laborious but potentially more appealing to a broader audience). So the real differentiator for Casper was… drum roll, please… the customer experience! How’d you guess?

Casper set out to connect with mattress buyers in a way they’d never been connected with before. And to change the whole experience of buying a bed – from the single model to the home delivery-in-a-box! Because the reality is, there was a gaping hole in this industry where customer experience was supposed to go. Since most people buy mattresses every 8-10 years, most retailers don’t really focus on building a rapport with someone who probably won’t be back anytime soon. But Casper did.

In the article, Casper founder, Neil Parikh says, “We know how long you've had your bed, and if you have kids or a pet. We keep track of all that, and then send people anniversary gifts, or dog beds. It's not about just selling you a bed. It's "How do I make this person our biggest advocate?"

They are making an investment in customers that others do not. And I’d say, considering they had $1 million in sales the first month, and hit $100 million cumulatively, they might just be on to something.

They even built Casper Labs around their customer database. “We have 15,000 customers who are part of our product-development process. They come to events, and test prototypes. Many are obsessive about sleep. They send us sleep tracker data and say, ‘I tested this product versus this one, and here's what I found.’ That process has helped us build a group of evangelists.”

The power of customer evangelists is incredible right now. People become impassioned about products or services and not only are they talking about them at lunch with friends, they are posting about experiences on Facebook, and Tweeting to the companies, and sharing Instagram posts featuring these products and services. The possibilities for exposure are endless and Casper is capitalizing on that by creating a customer experience worth talking about – whether you like their product or not!

We can all learn something from them about strong customer experiences creating customer evangelists.

What do you think of their approach? Tweet me at @GaryMagenta using #CreatingaKillerCX

Monday, March 7, 2016

Starbucks is Brewing Exceptional Customer Experiences

For all of the negative news and complainy customer service stories we are bombarded with on a daily basis, there are quite a few remarkable silver linings proving that people among us still strive to make a difference. Small and big. For all of the rants smattered on social media from disgruntled customers, there are also glowing reviews and stories of exceptional customer experiences that, unfortunately, get lost in the shuffle. For every nasty passenger clapping about a child getting thrown off a plane for allergies, there is a flight attendant walking a crying baby down the aisle to give weary parents a break.

And then there’s this latest gem from coffee behemoth, Starbucks.

Here’s the abridged version for the sake of time. A 23-yr old, deaf patron of a Leesburg, VA Starbucks, would typically type his order into his phone and then show it to the barista who usually helped him during his weekly visits. However, one random day, when he walked in expecting to go through the same drill, he was instead met with a barista who took his order in sign language. She then passed him a note that read,

“I’ve been learning [American Sign Language] just so you can have the same experience as everyone else.”

If that doesn’t give you the feels AND show that amazing things happen when people take the time to tap into their customers’ needs and do what they can to give them the best experience possible, I don’t know what will.

The patron was shocked, thrilled and eager to share his experience on social media, asking others to share as well and broaden exposure for support of the deaf community.

This is a stellar example of how great companies teach everyone to act like an owner. Acting like an owner is exactly what this particular barista did – she took it upon herself, as if the coffee shop were her own – to go out of her way to make a certain customer’s experience the very best that it could be. No holds barred… including learning a whole new way to communicate. It’s also the ultimate example of the power of great customer experiences, and a great demonstration of how and why all brands should be striving for the same level of customer interaction.

That incredible Starbucks barista deserves major kudos and probably doesn’t even realize the true impact she had. We should all try to be a little more like her!

What customer experiences inspired you this week? Tweet me @GaryMagenta using #CreatingaKillerCX and tell me about them!