If you want to differentiate your business profitably, you need to find ways to add customer value in ways that don’t push up your costs to an extent that eliminates any price and volume benefits you get from making a stronger offer.
That’s where a concept I call the Perfect Customer Experience comes in.
The Perfect Customer Experience
I’m all for continual improvement and incremental gains in performance but sometimes it is good to think bigger.
That’s what the Perfect Customer Experience does.
Forget about current constraints – technological, cost, legal and time – and ask yourself
“What would be the perfect customer experience for someone buying what we sell?”
This is your chance to get to grips with what your customers really want.
An Example Of The Perfect Customer Experience
I love going on holiday and especially going on safari holidays to Southern Africa.
But I hate the journey… absolutely hate it.
There’s the drive down to Heathrow airport – about 2.5 hours from Birmingham
Then the checking-in and passport control issues and the interminable wait for the plane to get ready for take-off.
Then the 10 or 11 hour flight to Johannesburg – and I can’t sleep on the plane.
And the long wait to get through immigration – there never seem enough people on the desks and by this time I’m fine and grumpy.
Then there’s the travel to the game reserve area which may involve an extra flight or a 5 hour drive depending on where we are going.
About 24 hours after we left home we arrive at our destination and I can finally start to relax and enjoy my holiday but I know that I’ve got to go through the same procedure in 7, 10 or 14 days time when we fly home.
I hate it.
So the perfect customer experience for me on a safari holiday is that one minute I’m at home with the bags packed and the next I’m at the destination.
The boring, unpleasant, uncomfortable travel is taken away – and that would be perfect.
So how can I get the perfect customer experience?
Well until the technology develops to the level of having a Star Trek transporter in every home and every destination, it can’t.
But there are ways to reduce the pain that the travel causes and which stops me going on safari as often as I’d like.
One obvious thing would be for a genuine African safari experience to be much closer to where I live.
OK I could go to East Africa – Kenya or Tanzania – instead of South Africa, Botswana or Zambia and that might save a couple of hours.
But what if it could be much closer and I didn’t need to fly.
To get the experience of a safari, I don’t need to be in Africa – and as I’ve got extremely cold and wet in the back of a Land Cruiser or Land Rover, it doesn’t need to be warm.
But I do need to see the animals in what I consider to be natural settings doing natural things – and even though I don’t want to see the blood and gore, that means potentially eating each other.
I do want a small, intimate base camp that feels authentic.
I want knowledgeable guides with personality.
At the moment I suffer two days of pain for the pleasures available in the 7 days in between so it’s important that those pleasures are not compromised.
The idea of the Perfect Customer Experience is that it encourages you to think outside of your current operations and focus on what customers really want.
You can ask them too although you have to be a little careful in creating expectations that you can’t fill so ask in the right way.
For example “If you had a magic wand, what would be your perfect holiday?”
You may be surprised at what you discover when the incremental thinking is removed.
The Ideal Customer Experience Is Not Perfect
It will help you to find, identify and create the Ideal Customer Experience.
This takes into account technological, legal and practical constraints to do the best you can do at the moment.
I’ll be writing more about it soon.
The Perfect Customer Experience can apply to any kind of product or service but focus on the underlying need rather than the current way of fulfilling that need.
So if you are a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, then your perfect customer experience is about a way that the house can clean itself – or even not get dirty. It might get you thinking about a robotic vacuum cleaner that goes to work when everyone leaves the house because of the pain involved in the time and effort needed to use a conventional vacuum cleaner.
The Ideal Customer Experience then takes practical considerations into account and finds ways to reduce the pain.
Paul Simister is a business coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace.
You too can move past your profit tipping point by answering the seven big questions of business success.