4 Ways to improve customer experience.

The case for a better customer experience.

Happy-Customer

Making a case for better customer experience is like convincing a fish to swim. It is understood and accepted by every business executive that providing exceptional customer experience is the best way to build customer loyalty and deliver superior service. It just makes perfect sense on paper. But how often is it followed through? I am writing this post as I am sitting at a branch of a top national bank waiting to open an account and give them my money. How long have I been sitting here you asked? Fifty minutes. And I haven’t even gotten to talk to the teller yet. And yes, I did ask them about opening the account myself online but they aren’t equipped to do that for this particular kind of account. They are very lucky that they have a product I want that no one else is offering or I would have been out of here 30 minutes ago. Needless to say, unless you are in a similar position and are able to provide a product or service that is so unique and so in-demand that customers will wait in line for hours for (iPhone 7 anyone?), your customers would simply go elsewhere.

For the rest of us who are not blessed with a holy grail and have to win customers the mere mortal way, here are some ways to improve customer experience.

1) Operational transformation. Let’s get the tough one out of the way first. Operational transformation involves changes in the operations which many times has to do with changing the culture of the business and how certain problems have been perceived in an organization for years or generations. This process could take a few years to complete. To begin, go through a customer touch-point assessment. Go over everything that is working well for the customer and identify what isn’t working so well. By doing this you should have a laundry list of things that need fixing. This will help you, as a company, prioritize what needs to be tackled first. Needless to say, you should begin by fixing smaller tasks first. Get the quick wins and build up inspiration and momentum along the way to get more difficult issues ironed out. Persistence and patients are your keys to success.

2) Digital integration. Using digital platform to communicate with customers such as social networks, a revamped website, accepting payments online, invest in creating a portal that enables customization of the customers’ products and services online. Online services are no longer “good-to-haves”. They are essential to doing business in today’s world even if your business doesn’t directly engage in doing any transactions online.

3) Listen. Have a feedback area on your website. Conduct surveys to obtain measurement and reporting of customer satisfaction levels. One of the more popular ways besides a survey is to gauge your company’s Net Promoter Score. With this method, you ask your customer only 1 question: “Would you recommend us?”. The more “Yes” you get out of the population, the better your Net Promoter Score. For anyone who answers no, make sure you ask a follow-up question with regards to their reason behind the answer. It may not be pleasant, but often truth isn’t, and growing pains is a part of business as much as personal life.

4) Cultural competency. Sensitivity training, cultural communication, interpretation and translation skills go a long way if you conduct business in a diverse geographical area or if you conduct your business internationally. Being sensitive to and understanding of your customer’s culture creates a rapport between the customer and the business and instills a sense of camaraderie. Suddenly you are no longer a business, but an adviser, a friend, a trust worthy ally they wouldn’t mind doing business with.

As mentioned earlier, making a case for improving customer experience is like convincing Congress to take a vacation. But for those who needs a gentle nudge, the following are some of the benefits of improving customer experience:
1) Increased brand loyalty.
2) Improved operational effectiveness.
3) Increased revenue and profit as a result of (1) and (2).
4) Improved customer retention.
5) Accelerated time to market for products.
6) Value added innovation for existing products.

Thanks for reading. Questions/comments are always welcomed.

The best Android Smartphone. Part 1

A very brief synopsis on Smartphones and their history

phones

Smartphones have become an unavoidable part of doing business. Ever since the introduction of the Palm Pilot PDA device, Personal Digital Accessories have made near instant inroads into the lives of business executives.

Palm launched a plethora of personal digital devices in the late 1990’s that sported its Palm OS operating system. The devices were very well recieved in the business world and the company became wildly succesful, at one point breaking into 2 companies, one focusing solely on hardware and the othet on OS development alone. All of Palm’s devices relied on having a stylus for menu selection as well as for taking notes. During the turn of the century, Palm’s new rival, RIM – maker of the BlackBerry – took advantage of the changing technology landscape and mobile data services and launched a device that boasted its instant messaging platform that many still believe is the best to this day. Palm was left bleeding customers and could not muster a counter punch.

Palm’s last savior was the Treo 650, a colored touch screen phone with full qwerty keyboard and a stylus that was launched in 2003. It remained very successful among the Palm die-hards within a rich eco system of applications, written for the Palm OS platform over the years.

Fast forward a few quick years, along came iPhone and the rest was history. Palm quickly lost the last of its supporters and BlackBerry also suffered massive losses in the United States market as customer flocked to a brand synonym with the revolutionary iPod and one that was well known for delivering quality products that stood the test of time better than most of its rivals.

Fast forward a bit more and Google announced that it was throwing its hat into the smartphone ring and the Android was born. All of this happened in a timespan of less than 20 years with companies going from bank to bust left and right in the process.

Smartphone of 2015 vs smartphone of 2000

Needless to say things have changed dramatically in the last 15 years as far as what consumers and business executives are looking for in a mobile device. In circa 2000 smaller was always better when it came to phones and having a company mobile and a personal one had its own charm and novelty value. Today a 2 inch screen phone has virtually no place in the mobile device market. Bigger screen is the way to go. Having a company issued device like the old BlackBerry is also the trend of the past with more and more companies embracing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture of unifying and streamlining communication. Business executives want a single device that can answer all their needs from being an alarm clock to providing turn by turn navigation to meetings with clients.

Business Android Smartphones roundup

In this review, we are focusing specifically on the best Android smartphone hardware. Apple products running IOS and Nokia devices that run Windows are also not included in this review.

Our simple test was to use these devices ourselves and also interview our colleagues and clients and guage their experience with the devices. Unlike what is done on other review sites, we are not so concerned with immaterial details like screen size difference of 0.2 inches or amoled vs super amoled screen resolutions. Our focus is on the overall ease of use, added value of the prepackaged software, and the synergy between the OS and the hardware.

We use 2 very simple criteria to judge our smartphones:
1) Hardware layout and positioning of buttons, jacks, ports, hardware communication features like NFC, and removability of battery.
2) Ease of use of the ROMs that the phones come with and the level of integration of various software functions within the ROM.

You can read the full review of each device in our upcoming post here.