Modernizes with technology
Technology isn’t everything when it comes to better customer experiences. But it certainly helps. Airbnb represents the modern customer experience. Airbnb facilitates positive experiences with a seamless customer journey via its technology. Most companies don’t make transactions easy for customers. Security questions, paperwork and customers repeating themselves many times make customer experiences frustrating. However Airbnb not only disrupted hospitality by getting people to trust one another again, Airbnb uses technology to provide an above par customer experience. When I open the Airbnb app, it’s clean and beautiful, like a magazine. I am greeted with a personal message: “Hi, Blake. Where to next?” I can browse my recent searches, get ideas “just for the weekend,” check out Airbnb favorites, review popular destinations, or read a number of guidebooks for cities I might be interested in visiting. I can easily review past trips or my communication history with my past hosts. Customer service and payments are easy. I receive a text notification that takes me directly to Airbnb in-app messaging with my host, and I can text my host when I arrive. Technology isn’t everything, but it sure does make the customer’s life easier.
Obsesses over the customer
Knowing the customer will help you create better products and services for your customers. In fact consider Hiscox Insurance, a small business insurance provider that — when going into a new market — hires its customers. How shocking for these small business owners that are contacted by their insurer, that wants to pay the small business owner to learn more about their needs? Additionally the company decided to break from standard insurance marketing to steer clear of fear-based marketing. These are all attributes of a customer centric company.
Rewards responsibility and accountability
When you are responsible and accountable to more than your board, you operate a business based on a set of values, and these values will not be swayed by a focus on short-term profits. In the book Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning discuss governance and how it plays a role within organizations to create a culture of accountability. Checks and balances within the company can help with governance — you can assign responsibilities to ensure there’s a team making sure all employees are maintaining the level of customer-centricity necessary. This will enable the company to collaborate around the customers. Companies today must be accountable to its employees, vendor partners, the community in which the company does business, and, last, investors. Too many brands, large and small, put investors first — and this practice gets in the way of success.
Embraces disruption and innovation
Smart c-level executives are looking at sweeping customer trends and thinking about how these changes in customer behavior will impact their business. Most companies today are barely treading above water trying to satisfy current customer needs. But companies must consider changing consumer trends and how it will impact their future business. Companies today need to ensure they have innovation within their company, and not a culture that discourages new ideas. For example there was no way Blockbuster could have predicted consumers would stream content, but Blockbuster under-estimated overall changes in customer behavior. They underestimated the amount of time people were spending on the computer in general in the early 2000’s. Content was on the computer and customers were spending more and more time there. This inability to pay attention is happening today. ESPN just laid off 100 on-air personalities ad writers. Traditional television still relies on its ad-driven model which customers hate. Customers pay for hundreds of channels they don’t watch. Customers are forced to watch ads that aren’t relevant. Traditional TV + media under-estimate the importance of how consumers now prefer to consume media. They don’t like traditional ads. They want to binge watch shows, on their own time. But again we see traditional media having an attitude of, “not until you pry it from my cold dead fingers” will I change my ad-driven traditional model. Well these layoffs at ESPN are just the beginning. In contrast look at Apple, who have so much cash it’s a problem for them. These are companies that look at where the puck is going. Media is the next industry that will be hurt by its inability to look at where the puck is going.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the new book on customer experience: More Is More.
First published on Forbes.com.