Understanding Today’s Customer to Create a Great Experience Every Time

understanding today's customers

Understanding Today’s Customer to Create a Great Experience Every Time

If you’re committed to becoming a CX juggernaut, it’s important to understand today’s customers versus the ones your industry served in the past. Simply put, today’s customers:

  • Are more demanding.
  • Have shorter attention spans.
  • Are less tolerant.
  • Have more knowledge about your products, you, and your competitors.
  • Are quicker to complain.
  • Expect all companies to be customer-first.

Moreover, everyone is online. This means they expect more, they care less, and they have more power.

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton, 1887

“Get just one little thing wrong and I will absolutely crush you on Yelp!” – Karen, 2023

Speed Matters

As we learned in the Customer Service 101 post, people are more likely to leave you for a competitor over a service issue than they are over a price or product issue. Service is often defined in terms of speed or efficiency.

Today’s customers want speed and efficiency from you, but not if that means poor quality or a bad attitude. Consider the following scenarios:

  1. You’ve just been served a perfect steak quickly by a genuinely caring waiter.
  2. You’ve just been served a perfect steak quickly by a rude waiter.
  3. You’ve just been served a perfect steak by a genuinely caring waiter, though it took 40 minutes for your meal to arrive.
  4. You’ve just been served a mediocre steak quickly by a genuinely caring waiter.
  5. You’ve just been served a mediocre steak quickly by a rude waiter.
  6. You’ve just been served a mediocre steak by a rude waiter, and it took 40 minutes for your meal to arrive.

Assume you are writing a Google review after each of these six meals and rate each scenario on a scale of one to five. If you’re like most of today’s customers, you’d award scenario 1 with five stars and scenario 6 with just one. What ratings did you give to the other four?

The speed of the restaurant’s service mattered, as you likely awarded more stars in scenario 1 versus scenario 3; however, what rating did you award to scenario 4? Did you rate scenario 4 above, below, or the same as scenario 3?

Would it surprise you to know that some customers would rate scenario 4 above scenario 3? Why? Because speed matters. To some customers, speed matters more than quality or your team’s attitude.

Of course, because today’s customers are more demanding, they want all three from you!

The Three E’s

To please today’s customers, we need to provide:

  • Efficiency
  • Eagerness
  • Excellence

… in all customer interactions.

Ask yourself: is everyone on my team always eager to deliver excellence in the most efficient manner possible?

Hint: The teams at Chick-fil-A are.

Your team must strive to provide all three E’s all the time if your goal is to become a CX juggernaut. Today’s customers demand it. In our six restaurant scenarios above, only the first one would rate five stars with most consumers because it delivered all three E’s in the customers’ eyes.

In the third post from this series, we explored observing your business through your customers’ eyes – and we’ve considered customers’ perceptions of your brand and service throughout multiple posts in this series (and will in future posts) – though when contemplating the three E’s, it’s critical to recognize that delivering the three E’s is meaningless if this is not how your customer perceives it.

Think what you will, but the customer experience is exactly what your customer says it is. As we learned in the Good Enough v. Good Enough post, their perception is their reality, and their perception is all that matters. To put it more succinctly: the perceived experience is what matters.

How is the experience with your frontline team perceived by your customers? Would customers say that your team always seems eager? That the employees genuinely care about providing excellent service efficiently? That they genuinely care about the customer?

Hint: Chick-fil-A’s customers say this.

Ritz-Carlton v. Fairfield Inn

Let’s look at two hotel chains: one known for a great customer experience and the other known for providing no-frills, though clean rooms.

Both Ritz-Carlton and Fairfield Inn provide a comfortable bed. (We know, we’ve stayed at both.) Interestingly, that’s about all they have in common.

Fairfield Inn provides free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and free in-room coffee. Ritz-Carlton does not. Yet, Ritz-Carlton commands rates at least two to five times higher than Fairfield Inn. How can that be? Isn’t free breakfast a great experience?

Nope. Not according to the customer.

The customer experience at these two hotel chains is defined not by the amenities, but by the intangibles. Ritz-Carlton doesn’t need to give away breakfast and Wi-Fi; they win hands down on the intangibles. We describe what Ritz-Carlton does simply this way: Every employee is always eager to deliver excellence in the most efficient manner possible.

Nothing magical or mystical; but just as the customer experience at Chick-fil-A can be defined by good manners (not their sandwich); the experience at Ritz-Carlton is defined by attentive service (not their breakfast or coffee).

This is the tenth post in a series of excerpts from Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience, a book written for everyone in any organization that has customers. That is, it was written for those in both the public and private sector; and for everyone in these organizations. From the frontline, customer-facing employees to the CEO and board of directors.

Each chapter in Ridiculously Simple Customer Experience concludes with Key Learnings and Chapter Exercises to make certain you and your team take the efficient path to becoming Customer-First. As you’ll learn in this ridiculously short book, building and maintaining a CX juggernaut isn’t hard… in fact, it’s ridiculously simple. Buy it now on Amazon!