Best Practices in HR
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Alyson Stone
  March 8, 2019

Customer Experience 101: There is no such thing as a ‘standard customer’

In the engagement between a customer and an organisation, there are several points of contact. These may be different departments, or even different touchpoints from the same department. In this age when customers—the ultimate endpoint of any business—are  just as connected as the employees of any large enterprise, monitoring and making sure that the enormous number of customer queries are responded to satisfactorily is a nightmare for organizations beyond a certain scale. This, coupled with the rising cost of customer escalations means that leadership is, at last, taking this seriously.

But, what does ‘this’ mean?

The customer experience.

Seeing how complicated this can be, we will break down aspects of the experience in a series of posts here.

We’re starting with the cardinal rule of customer experience.

There is no such thing as a standard customer.

It is common knowledge in the business sphere that it is not possible to squeeze prospects/customers/audience into a single communication mix. Business to Consumer (B2C) brands know that it’s impossible to say something that makes sense to five generations of customers.

Take Pepsi, for instance. From ‘Pepsi Generation’ to ‘Pepsi’s got your taste for life’ to ‘The choice of a new generation’ to ‘You’ve got the right choice, baby, uh-huh’, Pepsi kept evolving what it stood for, to keep appealing to a newer generation.

Rising to this particular challenge is the difference between success and failure for most B2C brands. Business to Business (B2B) brands have also become pretty smart about this in recent years.

What has, however, escaped attention is how communication preferences are still a stumbling block for most companies. Today, in a digital world where an organization may be engaging with three or four generations of customers, it is imperative that you are engaging them on all platforms and in all the ways they are comfortable with.

Young people, who are big texters, will expect support on text, while older people will want to get help from a human and therefore will expect someone to talk to them. And perhaps there is an in-between generation which is okay with text until there is a big problem and they want to get it fixed immediately. Yet others will go straight to social media and let out shrill, pointed blasts, advertising their disapproval.

As we say in the title: There is no such thing as a standard customer.

It is extremely important to understand just how different these customers are and to reflect this awareness in your omni-channel strategy.

If this means that you give your customers all the options they might like and need to engage with you, then you might have to.

Will there always be a few generations of customers to accommodate? Perhaps not, but for the foreseeable future, yes. We are already seeing the pervasive use of voice assistants and devices among the generation that is growing up. This is an easy example of how habits build up. We don’t need a Nostradamus to predict that this will be one of the ways this generation will seek support once they come of age.

Again, we must not generalize. The older generation has spent the last decade adapting to the texting platforms of the young, and a young person in need of urgent help will prefer speaking to a human than texting. Context is everything.

For instance, booking a medical appointment for a serious follow-up discussion after a checkup would be easy to configure and implement technically. But it completely fails to address the emotional need which should be a given in that situation. In contrast, trying to get information about a few books that are arriving can be automated.

This is why we are saying there is no such thing as a standard customer. Write it down.