Moving Beyond What Customers Want to What Customers Need

Earlier this month, InMoment released our 2017 CX Trends Report. The objective of this annual exercise is to examine various areas of customer experience (CX) from both consumer and brand perspectives to determine where these groups are aligned, and where there are disconnects.

Last week we held a webinar, during which my colleague James Bolle, who heads up our UK office, and I went into detail surrounding some of the report’s findings. We also talked about what these findings mean for CX practitioners, and how they can put those learnings into action inside of their organizations.

One of the areas we touched on briefly was the opportunity brands have to move beyond reaction — simply giving customers what they say they want — to giving customers what they truly need.

I referred to a personal experience I had with the online furniture brand, Wayfair. I had ordered a new bed for my six-year-old daughter. When it arrived, in pieces and ready to assemble, the box had been damaged. And while the bed itself was unscathed, most of the hardware to assemble the bed was either missing or strewn between the curb and my front door.

I called customer support and was greeted by a friendly and helpful agent. He called me by name, which means Wayfair has put in the effort on the back end to connect customer information and make it available to their front line service team. Good first step. I explained my problem and he immediately agreed to ship the new parts to my home at no charge. And while I was appreciative of his quick and cordial response, he must have heard the frustration I was still feeling in my voice. He followed up in fast order with another fix: In addition to expediting shipment of the new nuts and bolts, he told me that I could also visit my local store, purchase whatever hardware I needed, and submit the receipts for immediate reimbursal.

This may not sound groundbreaking, but it was for me. This agent, and the entire machine Wayfair has created to support him, was prepared to understand not just what I said I wanted (new hardware), but to make possible what I needed — to assemble my daughter’s bed that afternoon so she could sleep in it that night.

There’s a quote attributed to Henry Ford that goes like this: “If I would have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Whether or not Ford actually vocalized this specific sentiment, there’s an important lessons for CX practitioners.

First, listen. In this case, customers wanted faster horses. The next step is to ask why. Why did customers say they wanted faster horses? Because they wanted to get from point A to point B faster. Ford’s response: the automobile. He heard what customers needed, and with a groundbreaking innovation, gave them what they needed. And he solved their problem better than they knew how to imagine.

The CX Trends Report reinforced the need for companies to deliver not simply on their brand promise, but on customer expectations. What I expected from Wayfair was a bed in which my daughter could sleep. But within my expectation was also a time frame. Wayfair had promised my bed would be delivered on a specific day. I had planned around that promise, getting rid of my daughter’s old bed and creating an expectation with her that her new bed would be ready on a specific day.

Wayfair has gone to the effort to understand the personal — and emotionally-charged — aspect of my expectations. I had invested a lot in their promise. And just as our trends study confirmed, because the company met my expectations, I was both satisfied with the transaction, and I am now a loyal customer and advocate.
Yes, it’s difficult to align an organization’s culture, technology, and processes to get it right with your customers. But not only is it possible, it’s happening. For those brands still grappling with the myriad of real challenges, there is simply too much evidence to let the difficulties stand in your way.

About Author

Brennan Wilkie SVP, Customer Experience Strategy & Country Manager, Canada

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