The Customer Experience – Isolation vs Insulation
Imagine you are on a sailboat with one other person. You just met, but you hit it off and have a great new friendship. You are comfortable but cautious and interested to see what comes next.
You’re heading to an island, and you can see it ahead. Your companion has told you all about it, and from here it looks like he was right: It’s beautiful, isolated and is everything you imagined it would be. You become more relaxed as you anticipate having a great experience when you reach your destination.
You talk and laugh with your companion, who is driving the boat. You have joked and speculated and talked about future plans for each of your individual lives.
Reaching the deserted island, you jump off into the shallows and wade to the beach, excited to explore. You have someone with you so you’re excited rfather than scared, and in fact are not worried at all.
Running up the beach, you breathe deeply and take it all in: this is exactly what you needed and your companion made it happen for you. You turn around to say thanks and ask what he thinks you should do first.
But he’s gone.
In the distance you see the boat just as it goes out of sight. Your heart sinks since you are at this new desirable location, with no support and no help. Instead of promise, you feel the first gray twinge of despair. What was once a greatly anticipated adventure is now a road you can’t return from.
This is how a customer feels when you “sell” them.
This is how customers feel in 90% of professional transactions. Businesses traditionally don’t cultivate an environment where their product, people and processes deliver a truly exceptional customer experience.
You made it look so good, and it was . . . from a distance. Once they got there, you left them all alone. More interested in bringing the next new friend to a new exciting destination, you forgot about the one that trusted you and invested in your relationship.
I believe that every entrepreneur would agree that a business must differentiate to survive. And every business owner thinks he has an advantage over his competitors. But guess what? The business owner or entrepreneur isn’t the one who gets to decide if you are different, or better . . . it’s the customer who decides that.
Although there are many ways that business owners perceive that they can be different than their competitors, studies have shown that what business owners THINK makes them different is actually invisible to their client. In the customer’s mind there is only one determining factor. That factor is the customer experience.
The customer experience is the only thing that can truly differentiate one product or service provider from another. In fact, many businesses with inferior products have surpassed better companies simply because they deliver an experience that tops that of the competitors. Customers would rather have a lesser product delivered in a superior way, than the best product available provided along with a mediocre customer experience.
There are 5 factors which business owners can manage in order to provide a truly awesome experience for their clients. I have written about those elsewhere, but for now we will focus on what I believe to be possibly the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember when attracting and keeping clients.
I call this principle “Isolation vs. Insulation.” These two ideas can be summarized clearly by asking the following question about your clients and how they perceive your customer experience.
“Do my customers feel like they are THE ONLY ONE, or do they feel like they are ALL ALONE.
Isolation vs. Insulation:
ISOLATION means to take an object or person and set it by itself, away from others of it’s kind. Away from help and away from companionship.
INSULATION is the process of taking a single object or person and surrounding it with a protective layer, or shielding that item from the outside elements or activities that might threaten it.
Leaves customers alone
Ignores customer needs
Leaves customer saying “I’m all alone”
Leaves in a hurry
Locks customers in a room WITH you
Has a sense of urgency
Listens to what the customer has to say
Leaves customer feeling like they are your most important customer
Stays in touch
Follows through on promises
Takes the time needed to do things right
Chances are, you have left a customer feeling like they are stranded on a desert island. I have done it, and it is a daily struggle to balance the level of attention afforded to each customer with that of every other demand in your business day.
The good news is that if you are awake and aware, you can control the type of experience you deliver with several different actions:
- It starts with you, the owner / manager. Participate in the client relationship. Don’t rely on employees to do the heavy lifting.
- Deliver on what you promise – if you gave a client an expectation, cash the check you wrote
- Respond immediately to customer requests – once the customer reaches out to you, every second that ticks off the clock is a lost opportunity to deliver a better client experience.
- Instill in your employees the traits needed to deliver the best experience to your customer – train them, and give real world examples of how you have succeeded – and failed – in delivering great customer service.
- Create a process for delivering the client experience you want to be famous for. Create a customer service team with client satisfaction as their priority. Make someone individually responsible for each part of the customer experience process.
- Close the loop – don’t go 90% to the complete customer and fall down before the finish line.
- Ask your client! The last step in the customer service circle is following up after the sale to ask the customer how you did. That’s where most of us fall off the wagon.
If we can create a environment where this behavior is rewarded and is commonplace, we can easily differentiate our company from the many others that provide the same service, but not the same customer experience, that we do
The next time you take your client to the beautiful destination you promised, make sure you stick around long enough to watch a sunset or two. They will appreciate it, and your sales will benefit from it too.
Need help from a pro? Contact Available Technology at http://available-tech.net or 864-232-1234 to ask us about an IT assessment of your small business or just to talk business with me.
Mike Lane, Available Technology Inc
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