What the Milkman Can Teach us about Customer Experience
“Funny how the new things are the old things.” — Rudyard Kipling
I have so many fond memories growing up growing up in the St. Louis area… I remember when my Mom and my Grandma would wait anxiously by the back door for the local milkman to deliver fresh milk and butter for the family every day; the Avon lady coming to our house with the brochures showing the latest beauty products from the company and then coming back a couple of days later with the items my mom ordered; the Fuller brush man hocking their wares; and the adorable little girl scouts ringing the doorbell offering those oh so yummy Thin Mints and Do-Si-Does right at my front door.
Back in the day, home delivery came about as industrialization moved people into more urban areas and people were getting busier. That was the customer experience then — and, so very — consumer-focused!
In this digital age the focus remains the same. It continues to be about the customer — their needs and wants. The difference is now we have more tools to listen to the consumers and more data to help us create a marketing strategy.
As a marketing expert, I am always advocating for outstanding customer experience. In this electronic environment it has become the Number One priority and key brand differentiator for Marketers across the country.
In the last year — many businesses stepped up their game to make sure each interaction with their brand touchpoints were seamless and performed as expected. What we found during this time — is regardless of consumer loyalty and repeated purchases…consumers in crisis are unforgiving. And, that it only takes one bad experience for a consumer to walk away and never return.
So, what does this mean?
Each customer experience must be flawless…during all phases of a purchase cycle from information gathering, product/service access, ordering and delivery. Plus, let us not forget just how important customer service must be — whether on-line, on-the-phone or in-person — yes, accuracy and timeliness matter. How many times have you cancelled an order, walk away, or abandoned your online cart because of some unexplainable glitch or unavailability of immediate help?
And I would be remiss to not mention the usability, accessibility and/or pricing of a product or service. It is not just the features or benefit we get from an item that makes the difference — it is our experience with the item itself and the overall purchase cycle.
So, what is this concept we call Customer Experience (CX)?
CX is the actual physical, emotional, virtual manifestation and consistency of a company’s brand promise to their customer across all touchpoints. It’s what makes a brand come alive to guarantee the immersive, sensory, and physical experience expected by the consumer happens.
CX is where the “tire hits the road”, the milk is delivered fresh daily by the friendly milkman, and the consumer experiences the brand.
And why is it so important?
Today’s, consumers are not particularly loyal but, they are demanding and expecting high performance from their brands. A study showed that the majority of buying decisions are no longer based on things like price or convenience. Instead, 70% of buying experiences are based on how a customer feels they are being treated by a company.
With this in mind — I am not surprised that brands have brought back in-home milk & butter delivery — albeit in non-fat, low-fat, non-GMO varieties. Or, that the Girl Scout are reconsidering adding back direct sales to this year’s digital sale campaign. Whatever the case, customer experience counts and even things from the past might very well be pertinent in today’s world.
How will CX look like in 2021?
While it may have been inspired by the milkman delivery and the very personal nature of the transaction, the customer experience has been innovated and enhanced in the digital world. Here’s the top trends happening now:
Digital Transformation — every brick-and-mortar business must have a digital presence and an e-commerce shop.
Artificial Intelligence — chatbots, virtual assistants, automated answering machine for sorting and routing calls will be the norm.
Personalization —Absolutely, ranging from ongoing digital communications to offerings and discounts based on the customers purchase or browsing history.
Omnichannel and seamless communication — when a customer is interacting with a brand through phone, e-mail, live chat, social media, and SMS, as well as offline, a unified customer experience is a must.
Increased focus on data security and privacy — oh yeah that is not going away anytime soon.
Storytelling and content are front and center — yep, time to hire a third-party expert.
Improved mobile experience — this goes without saying…
Online word-of-mouth — this includes the influencers and customers attesting to their experience with your brand, product & services, and online reviews.
Every industry, product, or service approach customer experience creation differently… Whatever approach is used — the goal is to ensure the consumer feels valued and that the experience with the brand is memorable.