Customer Experience Roundup, September 9, 2019

Developing a strong customer experience means being willing to change. Companies that evolve with customer demands and trends show their willingness to listen to customers and provide products and services they actually want. This week brought three stories of companies adapting to meet customer needs.

Apple Changes Stance On iPhone Repairs

Apple has long encouraged its customers to use authorized service providers for repairs on their iPhones and other devices. But now the company is making waves as it introduced a new program that will provide independent repair stores with access to parts for common out-of-warranty repairs. Before the shift, independent shops didn’t have access to official Apple products and would often make their own versions. The new program allows independent repair companies access to the official parts, as long as they have an Apple-certified technician on staff.

The change in repair recommendations marks a huge change for Apple. With the old program, it was difficult for customers to make repairs, especially for older products or models. Apple controlled most of the repairs unless customers wanted to risk using an after-market part from an independent repair store. It was risky, but typically less expensive. The new program gives customers more options to repair their iPhones without having to depend on Apple’s high repair prices. It also highlights smaller, independent businesses and diversifies the industry.

KFC Introduces Vegan Fried Chicken

What if the best fried chicken didn’t even include chicken? That’s what KFC is betting on as it teams up with Beyond Meats to create plant-based vegan fried chicken. KFC tested the new item at a restaurant in Atlanta this week and got rave reviews. The chicken sold out in just five hours as lines circled the store. KFC is the first fast food chain to serve vegan chicken and will get feedback from customers before deciding next steps of potentially adding it to the permanent menu at multiple locations.

Restaurants have been offering alternative menu items lately. KFC’s move towards plant-based chicken alternatives opens the menu to a large group of customers who choose not to eat meat. The menu addition shows a more inclusive menu, as well as one that is more sustainable because plant-based items tend to use less fuel and resources as they are created. The chicken restaurant market is competitive, and we’ll likely see KFC’s competitors roll out similar items soon.

American Consumers Are Still Exuberant Despite Economic Issues

Even among fears of a recession and ongoing international trade issues, Americans have the most positive view of the economy they’ve had in nearly 20 years. A new sentiment index report from The Conference Board shows that consumers are more confident in the economy than they have been in a long time. Hiring and income growth remain steady, which experts say could lead to sustained household spending. More than 51% of respondents said jobs are plentiful, which is the highest percentage since late 2000.

This index report is good news for retailers, especially among other economic concerns. When consumers are confident in their jobs and income, they’re more likely and willing to spend more. If job and income growth continue to grow or hold steady, we could see household spending numbers continue to rise. Confident consumers could help the economy and assuage many fears of recession.

New products and updated policies contribute to optimistic customers. To develop a strong customer experience, companies need to embrace change instead of running away.

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new “The Customer Of The Future.” Stay in touch with her weekly on her newsletter.

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