Your Customer Experience Needs to be a Fair Exchange, so that you are still around to provide it

It’s now well established that if you rank well in providing a superior customer experience, there is a good chance that your organization is seeing an uptick in the traditional business metrics, such as shareholder value and revenue.

Forrester has a metric called the Customer Experience Index (CXi), which they have been using for a few years, and each year their research shows a clear correlation between organizations that do well against the CXi metric are simply doing very well.

The title of this blog post from Forrester analyst Harling Manning says it all:

“When It Comes to Total Returns, Customer Experience Leaders Spank Customer Experience Laggards”

So does this mean that organizations should pile every cent they have into treating their customers like kings? Is this a sure bet to profitability, shareholder value and to be lauded as the Zappos of their industry?

Well no, there is something more subtle happening than that – these organizations are striking a balance, a fair exchange of value between their company and the customer.

When we are talking about customer experience, a popular (and often pilloried) industry to cite is the airline industry. One of my favorite customer experiences of all time came from an airline, but it’s also a great example of how there needs to be a fair exchange.

Back in 2007, living in the UK and frequently flying to the US, the travel reality for many of us then and now is spending a lot of time in the economy section of the plane.

Then a couple of airlines sprung up, offering all business class planes, doing the route from London to New York at a slight premium over a fully flexible economy fare from the regular airlines.

I tried a few of them. SilverJet stands out in my mind, operating from a small dedicated terminal in a small airport (Luton). I was able to drop off my car at the terminal door and from that moment on, I was in a business class experience, breezing through security into a lounge and onto the plane.

For a justifiable premium over economy, it was a fantastic customer experience, meeting my needs not only in service, but in objection handling around price.

However – these airlines were sadly short-lived and within a year of that experience Silverjet and their competitors had died.

So, what went wrong?

If those airlines were around today I imagine that their Forrester CXi rating would be through the roof, as grateful passengers, with an expectation set at “economy” would be advocating for these services.

But this is an example of what happens when the fair exchange of a customer experience get skewed; with the rising price of oil these smaller carriers simply couldn’t weather the storm.

Ultimately, the customer experience they provided became not fair for them – but very fair for me. Right up to the point that the service was no longer available.

This is obviously an extreme example, but I am working with clients today who need to revamp their customer’s digital experience, plan for investment, and make difficult decisions.

If you are making those decisions, be sure the outcome is a fair exchange. Ensure these customers are going to be around to enjoy your service and that you’ll still be there to provide it.

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