Once upon a time, customer relationships were built on a personal touch—a visit from a salesperson to a branch office, a holiday dinner, regular phone calls from someone who knew not only your name, but the ages and schools of all your kids. And then the Internet economy was born. And personal touch morphed into personalization.
The Internet has made things better for professionals of all shapes and sizes. Technology has made it possible to reach people from around the globe in real-time, to build an endless array of products that meet countless users’ specific needs. However, this glut of personalized tools has also made customer loyalty harder to achieve than ever before. Just when you think you have cornered the market, someone else comes along with an even more sophisticated tool. Having the best technology alone does not win the race.
So, how do you stay ahead? The answer, ironically enough, seems to be the same as it was 20 years ago. You need to dazzle your customers, partners and co-workers. You need to give them an experience that is unmatched. But what does this mean? We did a LinkedIn survey of our own partners, colleagues and customers to try and find out. And we found a few key trends emerged:
• User experience is key: There is no escaping the fact that user experience still rules the day. But in this age of sleek interfaces and endless options, users’ wants are as simple as ever: clear presentation of information without long waits. Dazzling, it turns out, has nothing to do with endless options but has everything to do with simplicity, clarity and responsiveness.
• Go mobile or go home: People want the same experience no matter what device or platform they are on. A surefire way to dazzle mobile users is to let them actually get the data they need without having to go through a million hoops on their device. If you can provide an experience that is seamless across multiple devices and platforms, your users will be dazzled—and will never leave you.
• Personalization does matter: This is not to say that users don’t care about having their personalized needs met. They want to have tools and experiences that are built specifically for them—they just don’t want to be the ones doing the heavy-lifting. Again, it really comes down to the fact that dazzling users is not about giving them a million different options or a thousand pretty things, it is giving them (or helping them build) one simple solution that meets their needs. And that works…all the time.
• People want to share: When something works, people want an easy way to pass it on to colleagues and friends. Users are dazzled when they can take their information and/or products and bring them to others without hassle. Again, it goes back to the basics: give your customers an easy way to share their successes and you will dazzle not only them but their friends.
• Loyalty (programs) matter: A recent Harris Interactive study of Millenials—(those 1.7 billion-strong 18-29 year olds) and their consumer practices found that over 3/4s of those surveyed would choose a brand that offered a rewards program over one that did not. Additionally, the survey found that 44 percent of Millenials are willing to promote products or brands through social media in exchange for rewards. So, remember, just like those long ago boxes of chocolates from your visiting salesperson, as that old saying goes, rewards have their benefits.
• Empower employees make more happy customers: A recent 2011 McKinsey report on jobs cites “home-sourcing”, people working from home will increase. Twenty six percent of executives expect to employ more people working from home over the next five years. The report states that virtual employees are more productive and more satisfied, because their jobs give them autonomy and flexibility. And, research shows satisfied employees make for happy customer experiences.
So, maybe things haven’t changed all that much in 20 years. Sure, we may all be stuck bringing our work with us no matter where we go—goodbye to those unplugged vacations of the past—but, just like then, all we really want is some personal touches and some ease of use to make us happy. To dazzle isn’t to overwhelm or overplay; it is simply to give your customers, colleagues and prospects what they need in the most consistent, concise and clear way possible.
How do you or your organization dazzle customers?