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We Buy Experiences Not Just Products
Hassane El-Khoury is a Consulting Advisor to Cypress and Infineon.
One thing every one of us has in common: we are all customers! Whether it’s of a product, or a service, every day we play the role of a customer in our professional and personal life. Each of us knows when we have had a great experience and when we haven’t, and our future decisions are guided by those perceptions which in turn, become the supplier’s reality. Today, I am writing this blog from the perspective of a Supplier and a Customer.
Customer Experience is not just about the performance of a product. In the technology space, the question of which is the better product or technology is black or white, or in our case, 0 or 1! Anyone can put the specifications side by side and quickly highlight which product is superior. But evaluating and delivering on the overall experience is not as clear cut or simple. Good experiences are defined by the complete journey of the customer and the set of interactions within. It’s about the journey of sampling and purchasing the solution, the delivery, getting up and running, and getting support along the way. It even includes those parts of the journey when you must decide whether to purchase the next generation solution from that company or find another supplier to “partner with” going forward. That last part is when the customers gets to vote with their dollars – and it’s based on their perception of the overall experience.
Allow me to share a personal story about what happens when a reputable brand starts to lose its focus and delivers bad experiences. It revolves around a very significant personal purchase I decided to make, from a large appliance retailer for my new home. The experience has been so painful that I was compelled to write to their CEO and make him aware of all the interactions over the last few months. I only edited my original letter for content, to focus on the intent of this blog rather than have it become a brand review. All edits are in […]).
I’ve also summarized the top 7 takeaways from my poor experience below. These are the key points that I want to share with you, and which should serve as a reminder to all of us about the importance of the customer’s experience.
- If you are going to have corporate objectives/brand attributes to advertise to the public -> it’s imperative to be able to stand up to them, double down on them.
- I was attracted to the company’s products and customer-focused policies, but I was let down by the execution of those policies -> consistent execution matters.
- I was very pleased they offered customer-focused tools (eg. order tracking), but I was let down by the functionality -> Good customer experience tools that don’t work make the experience worse.
- I understand that errors or issues might arise in any operation. But multiple problems without regard or acknowledgment made me feel trapped in this relationship/transaction, and being trapped is not what anyone wants to feel.
- At no time did I feel that any person understood or wanted to understand the WHYs behind my product purchase, the dependencies, timelines etc. -> Suppliers must understand the WHYs, so that they can deliver, advocate and breathe life into this transactional experience.
- All companies should have a transparent path for customers to escalate painful experiences, so the customer can always be heard.
- Feedback is a gift and the only way companies will stay in business today is to capture it from the customers -> Ask for it. Analyze it. Respond to it.
CLICK HERE FOR MY LETTER TO THE CEO DESCRIBING MY PAINFUL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
So, there it is. It is now February 2019, and I still do not have an important part of my new home (or what a retailer would call "a completed order"). I have not received any response from the CEO or otherwise.
The basis of NPS (Net Promoter Score) is whether I would recommend the company to a friend or colleague. If I were asked - which I wasn’t - to give my perception (via survey) they would score a zero.
Over the past few years, there’s been a shift in the competitive landscape across all industries to add the customer’s experience to the equation. Many great companies have responded to the call and it is time for the semiconductor industry to catch up. At Cypress, I am proud to say that we have placed significant investment into understanding and improving our customer’s experience. We have been putting the technology, training and infrastructure in place to better understand and respond to our customers in the ways that they want. We have mapped customer journeys and we review customer feedback religiously. I personally read through all customer comments and interviews from our initiative last year. Although I didn’t always like what I read, I knew it was critical. My frustrations caused a reaction to want to do something different. That is why in 2019, we are taking a much bigger step in our investment of customer experience by putting “Enhancing our Customer Focused Culture” at the top of the priority list. We can put all the technology and processes into place to advance our capabilities, but without a customer-first driven culture to lead that transformation, we will not be successful, and I will be reading the same comments from our customers, three years from now. This is the next competitive advantage we will have at Cypress, and it starts with me. Our customers deserve the best, and we can and will do better.
Before I close, allow me to share one more thing I know for sure. If anyone has a bad experience with Cypress and believes I should be aware of the details, let me know and it will be addressed. You will receive a response. If you respond to our surveys with a comment, I will read it. If positive, we will acknowledge the good internally, and if negative, we will work on it.
At Cypress, we have a sincere belief that the customer must be at the center of our strategies and tactics for us to succeed. We will continue to place a concerted effort and investment in co-creating great customer experiences. Technology will enable this, but fundamentally it comes down to the will of the CEO, Leadership team and the entire organization to support Customer Experience as the true competitive differentiator that it really is. I am all in – are you?