Published in General

Designing a Great Customer Experience Strategy

Apple founder Steve Jobs said when announcing the iPhone in 2007, “Every once in awhile a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.”

However, the product is only part of the story. Revolutionary products such as the iPhone flourish by providing a fantastic customer experience. It’s the product, the in-store experience, the applications, the customer service, the whole ecosystem. In today’s globally competitive world, companies that want to succeed must combine innovation with customer needs and satisfaction. I describe this in detail in my chapter “Total Experience Design – A New Model for Customer Experience” in Allegiance’s book Delivering Customer Intelligence.

In this chapter, I explain how the acknowledgement of a hierarchy of needs coupled with the right product features are the key ingredients for creating a great customer experience. Apple and other companies such as Zappos, Amazon and JetBlue have been able to create successful new business in recent years because they focused intensely on the customer experience.

Customer experience management is a result of many overlapping messages, product features used, goals achieved, and emotions felt. Companies that address the full spectrum of levels of customer needs will be more valuable, profitable, enduring, and strategically aligned with the market.

customer experience model diagram and chartThis new Total Experience Model integrates functional, activity, and life needs with the right mix of basic, performance, and delight features. For example, Amazon and Zappos address shopping and budget activity and life needs by focusing on features that will always be in high demand, such as fast and low-cost shipping, great selection, friendly return policies, and affordable prices. Leading automakers focus on core principles that don’t change, such as reliability, affordability, and practicality. Customers had these common needs 20 years ago, they want them today, and they will want them 20 years from now.

Meanwhile, some companies need to stay viable and healthy by having product lines that turn over quickly. These companies achieve success, in part, by having a pipeline of innovations that continuously replace outdated features and products. They recognize that their products and innovation investments must continuously improve to fulfill their customers’ activity and life needs.

Keep in mind, however, that leading companies don’t necessarily address all levels of needs and all feature types in their products. Rather, they understand which pieces of the needs model are relevant for driving satisfaction, loyalty, and sales for their particular market, then focus their roadmap and execution on the appropriate needs at the time.

For example, my Nikon camera does nothing to help me with my activity need to upload photos to Flickr and share them with friends. However, my camera continues to make magic with super high quality photos to address other life needs (saving memories) with delight. Nikon’s deliberate decision to not include photo upload and sharing capabilities may have been a good decision at one point, but the newly available smartphones have created an opportunity to satisfy every photographer’s need to upload and share pictures through rich mobile applications. The recent success of Instagram’s photo sharing platform is evidence that companies that provide photo products may be missing out on significant business and customer engagement opportunities by not investing in products that meet new activity needs.

The new Total Experience Design model provides a simple yet comprehensive means of auditing your customer’s entire experience. The chapter includes a useful template framework for assessing your product portfolio today and envisioning it in the future. Needs-understanding coupled with the right product features are the key ingredients for creating a valued customer experience.

Al Nevarez is Vice President of Product Management for Allegiance.