Not all Australian companies understand the importance of customer experience, warns Perth entrepreneur Mark Horwood, who is changing how businesses around the world relate to clients.
He says customer experience quantified a person’s emotional response in dealings with a company or organisation, and most major US corporations hire a director of customer experience.
“We need to look at some of the reasons that this is important, that a customer ‘feels’ an emotional attachment to a business,” Mr Horwood said.
His firm, Captivate Connect, developed new technology to defeat frustrating on-hold phone calls by helping organisations to interact with consumers who were waiting to speak to a staff member.
Mr Horwood says businesses and organisations must exceed consumer expectations to enjoy the benefit of positive customer experiences.
He noted the evolution of commerce with disruptors, such as Uber Eats and Amazon, and commoditisation, in which products or services became indistinguishable from similar ones.
Mr Horwood continued: “Do you ’feel’ any emotional connection to Amazon or the Uber Eats delivery person? Nope. Can you remember the name of the restaurant from which the Uber Eats bag emanated? Nope.”
He said commoditised products had thin margins and were sold by price, not brand. Typically, ever cheaper and common technology was sold by more suppliers who lower prices even further.
“So, when a business does not want to be seen as ‘the same as everyone else’ – chasing prices to the bottom and squeezing margins – what can it do?” Mr Horwood asked.
“It must make the business different in the mind of the customer,” he explained.
“To do this, it needs to create a connection – not an Uber Eats bag type of relationship, but one where the customer forms an emotional connection. One that is memorable long after price is forgotten.”
Mr Horwood said a five-star restaurant that met customer expectations had done just that. But a pasta joint in the suburbs that exceeded customer expectations might be more memorable.
“Which of these two restaurants are you going to bother rating on Google?” he asked. “Which will you tell your friends to go to?”
He went on: “Larger corporations have the most to give and the most to gain from improving customer experience as generally they are not too good at it.”
Mr Horwood singled out being kept waiting on a telephone as a pet hate. “Why do they do that in this day and age of modern technology when there are so many caller preferred options?” he asked.
Captivate Connect’s world-leading phone technology offered entertainment to people on hold as well as information, a quiz, several genres of music and, importantly, a podcast, download of the company app being called and option to be called back.
The internet helped Captivate Connect establish a bigger customer base in the US than Australia.
“From a business perspective, you gain from this new service not only from having improved customer experience, but higher Google ratings and, of course, the business database grows from every number that requests the quiz or app or podcast link,” Mr Horwood said.
He said customer experience differed from customer service. The latter concerned human interaction and directly supporting customers but was only one aspect of dealing with customers.
“Customer experience is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business,” he said.