Intangibles – Why They Matter

With the abundance of choices available in any product and service category, customer loyalty is fragile.  Often the customer makes decisions based on their emotional experience and connection with a business and service.  Functionality or features alone are not enough to penetrate the customer’s mindset of expected quality thresholds.

The Customer’s Expectation

Today’s economy is filled with choice.  This dynamic has created a different mindset than what once existed.  Competition has forced companies into highly competitive environments.  Furthermore, customers have been empowered to choose where they will spend their dollars.  Their ability to navigate quickly and choose in an on-demand world forces sellers to create a unique value proposition quickly or risk being categorized into a commodity class.

The demand for service and a customer experience requires attention to the mediums which connect with the customer’s senses.  In a service business, this often is on the communication a customer receives as they engage the buying and service side of a business.

The State Of Business

Most businesses are overwhelmed with the amount of information which needs to be processed and acted upon.  Thus, these businesses are reacting to the urgency of a day rather than servicing their customer.  Few businesses can see the issue.

However, if a patron of a restaurant sees the chaos of the kitchen and overwhelming stress from the cooks, it taints and often ruins the dining experience.  The patron expects good service and is focused on their own needs and comforts.

Likewise, your problems cannot bleed over into the customer experience.  The customer gravitates to the business which provides an excellent experience and expects good service.  What is happening in the kitchen needs to be insulated and managed.  The showroom is what matters and affects the customer’s perception of your company and your value offering.

In many businesses, it is difficult to create an experience.  How does an attorney, CPA or any other knowledge business create an experience?  This is critical for service businesses to attend to.  Otherwise, loyalty will always be in jeopardy.

Think Starbucks

The challenge of turning a commodity like Starbucks into an experience required imagination and an attention to detail from Howard Schultz, it’s CEO.  Coffee is beans grounded for filtration and brewed for consumption.  Starbucks is an aroma, a warm environment, a break from reality and a reimagination of ourselves.

The tools are people and props.  There is attention to each piece of furniture, music and ambience.  Furthermore, the people seek to connect and remember your name and favorite drink.  They have passion to create an experience with their voice, handshake, smile and mannerisms.  The cost is nothing.  The thought is everything.  It creates loyalty and the patronage of people who are willing to pay well above a commodity price for coffee beans and water.

Think About Your Business

The props of your business are the tools which connect with the customer.  How and when you communicate with your customer is critical today.  Think about your email in your customer’s inbox.  It is one of a hundred for that day.  If it does not make an impression or does not help them connect to a process you are leading them through, then you are a disconnected and irrelevant input.

The timing and setup of communications is critical.  For a knowledge business today, which most businesses are, then the ability to execute the right communication touchpoints must be automated, consistent and of professional caliber.  There are strategic times to communicate through the buying process and through the delivery stages.

Think Salesforce.com

With over one million users, Salesforce.com has emerged as the standard for managing the customer buying and relationship process.  Within its functionality as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tool, it has the ability to deliver an experience with just-in-time action, rich HTML templated emails, and a 360 degree view of the customer and their history.

Thinking through the possible touchpoints with the customer for a service business, communications and timing are the two concrete items which must be managed effectively.  When and how you connect with your customer differentiates you from the manner of business your competitors and other service businesses offer.

How you deliver your service and how you sell attract a customer or cause indifference in the buyer’s mind.  Salesforce.com offers a system for constructing how you will do business with your customer to create a memorable experience.

While your business may use some physical tools, like office location and furniture, many of your interactions will be virtual and personal.  Their experience must be managed.  Salesforce.com enables teams to deliver the experience with high level of professionalism and differentiation for organizations that are willing to put in the attention and work as Starbucks has in their own designed experience.

The customer perception is critical in winning loyalty.  Thus, as all factors are considered similar in the customer’s eyes, the intangibles are what matter.

What can such a system do in your business?

Connect with me for Salesforce help if you want to find out.

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