By 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator. Marketing leaders are all talking about customer experience, I wanted to get the inside scoop. I asked Matt Ruedlinger, President of Triple R Marketing agency, to really break down the process of creating experiences that make people love (and purchase from) your brand. In an era where similar businesses are a Google search away, are you differentiating yourself?
Matt has studied and cultivated remarkable customer experiences. He has worked alongside world-renowned author and sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer, and has helped businesses promote their products at high-profile events such as the Sport Emmy Awards. With over 20 years’ experience in Marketing and Sales, he has seen the rise in customer expectations since starting his business. Here is what he had to say:
Q: In your view, what does it mean to truly be a “customer-centric” company?
The first thought that comes to mind is consistency. There is nothing worse than having a great experience with a company to find out it was a fluke because the next time you did business with them you were disappointed. A business that is customer-centric understand the touch points they have with their clients and makes sure that the experience happens every time. This means everyone (includes CEO, delivery people, receptionist) understands the strategy.
Q: How has your view of customer experience affected the way you run Triple R Marketing? I heard you bought a caramel shop to keep a personalized approach to doing business….
The 3 R’s in Triple R Marketing stand for Rapid, Reliable, Results, and that has been our core process since 2005. We use those 3 actions with each interaction with our customers and do it on a constant basis. If you would have told me a year ago that I would own a caramel business, I would have said you are nuts! For the past 3-4 years we have given our client caramels on their birthdays. We have hundreds of messages from our clients on how much they appreciate the simple gesture on their special day. Last September the owner of the company came to me and said she was going to shut down the doors. I panicked and purchased 25 pounds on the spot.
Not only are the taste of the caramels amazing, working with Joan at Joan’s Caramels was amazing. She catered the experience to make it easy for our company and she made us look like superstars! After spending month trying to find a replacement, with no luck, my wife and I decided to purchase the business to keep the tradition of birthday caramels alive. The caramels also work well with the promotional product side of our business.
Q: What separates a company that provides a good customer experience from a company that delivers a great customer experience?
That’s a great question. I think good customer experience happens, but great customer experience is planned. What I mean by planned is that a company has a mission to create experience and they empower their employees to make memorable moments. This falls back on your question about being customer-centric along with the ability to make a customer feel special.
Q: Where are companies missing the mark with customer experience?
According to Genesys, we spend 500 billion a year on marketing and advertising and we 9 billion on customer service. If a company says they are great, no one cares. If a customer says a company is great, people listen. Businesses need to invest in their customers and make them the cheerleaders for their company. I think you will start seeing a shift in those numbers and they will become more inline. Well..that is for the companies that understand the consumer is in control.
Q: Many people now argue that delighting customers isn’t as important as making their experience easy. What do you think?
I think you have to excel on both delighting the customer and making it easy to work with your business. If your customers are not delighted in doing business with you, and/or if they have to go through hoops to get what they need…why would they want to do business with you again? I like to ask clients, if you were to close your doors today, what would your customer do?
Q: Tell us about your least favorite customer experience
I think I speak for everyone when I say when we get these automated recording and we say “customer service”, that means we want to talk to a live person, not be rerouted to a voice recording of someone acting like they are pecking on a keyboard and asking me more questions. Maybe that was a little rant!
Q: Tell us about your favorite customer experience.
Once we stopped at a restaurant in Louisville KY called Marks Feed Store. When we sat down, the waiter asked if it was our first time. After saying yes, the waiter came over and shook my hand. I thought it was a little odd, but didn’t think much more about it. As we were eating, I think every waiter and waitress that walked past our table said “we heard it was your first time here..thanks for stopping in”. It was a really awesome feeling. If that wasn’t enough, after the meal the manager came out, asked if our meal was delicious, which it was, and he asked me which was my favorite BBQ sauce. After I told him, he brought me out a bottle of sauce to take home, plus a piece of their signature pie! I was amazing!
No, I don’t expect that every time I go back, but I have told the story or my experience hundreds of times and everyone ask for more details about Marks Feed Store every time I tell it. That experience probably cost under $5 and an understanding with manager, waiter, and waitress, that when someone comes in for the first time, we are going to create an experience they won’t forget.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you can offer to companies looking to optimize customer experience?
We are no longer B2B or B2C, we are P2P (People 2 People). Jeffrey Gitomer said it best: People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. It that old saying our moms always taught us, treat others how you want to be treated. If you don’t like to wait for answers, don’t make your customers answer. If you like a friendly voice when you call a business, give your customers a friendly voice. If you don’t like getting charged extra on an emergency, don’t charge your customers extra. You get the point.