Based on nearly a decade of research and more than 2 million evaluations across multiple markets, we have identified and validated six fundamental components of every great customer experience – they are The Six Pillars of customer experience excellence.
The Six Pillars are rooted in human psychology and motivation and, as such, are relevant across B2B and B2C. They are also as relevant for employees as they are customers.
Personalization is the most valuable component of most experiences. It involves demonstrating that you understand the customer’s specific circumstances and will adapt the experience accordingly. Use of name, individualized attention, knowledge of preferences and past interactions all add up to an experience that feels personal.
Integrity comes from consistent organizational behavior that demonstrates trustworthiness. There are trust-building events where organizations have the need to publicly react to a difficult situation, and trust building moments where individual actions by staff add up to create trust in the organization as a whole. For all customers, it is the degree to which the organization delivers on its promises that is consistently top of mind.
Customers have expectations about how their needs will be met, and these are increasingly being set by the best brands they have encountered. Great organizations understand, deliver and – if possible – exceed expectations. Some are able to make statements of clear intent that set expectations (“never knowingly undersold”) while others set the expectation accurately (“delivery in 48 hours”) and then delight the customer when they exceed it.
Customer recovery is highly important. Even with the best processes and procedures, things will go wrong. Great companies have a process that not only puts the customer back in the position they should have been in as rapidly as possible, but also make the customer feel really good about the experience. A sincere apology and acting with urgency are two crucial elements of successful resolution.
Empathy is the emotional capacity to show you understand someone else’s experience. Empathy creating behaviors are central to establishing a strong relationship and involve reflecting back to the customer that you know how they feel; then going that one extra step because you understand how they feel.
Time and effort
Customers are time poor and increasingly looking for instant gratification. Removing unnecessary obstacles, impediments and bureaucracy to enable the customer to achieve their objectives quickly and easily have been shown to increase loyalty. Many companies are discovering how to use time as a source of competitive advantage. Equally, there are clear cost advantages to saving time, as long as the other pillars are not compromised.