By Ace Team September 23, 2014, 10:28 AM
The Three Essential Elements of an ACE
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is often referred to in business and developmental psychology, but it also offers an interesting parallel to Amazing Customer Experiences. Customer experience can similarly be defined in a hierarchical pyramid, although the comparison with Maslow’s concept fades when one realizes that to achieve an ACE, one really has to master the customer experience at all levels.
1. Essential Elements are attributes that are absolutely essential to doing business with you. No matter what your product or service is, these elements must meet a relatively high level of performance for customers to continue doing business with you. Take FedEx for example. If they were to disregard the essential attribute of dependability and occasionally closed their doors early, they would quickly lose clients who count on them to keep regular hours.
2. Assistive Elements are attributes that make it easier to business with you. They are the things you do that say “I get you” to your customer. Apple does this by allowing their customers to easily share their iTunes music across multiple “authorized” machines.
3. Elements of Appeal are those attributes of your customer experience that appeal to your customers’ sensory, aesthetic, and intellectual interests. These establish the level to which your customer experience is engaging, memorable, and distinctive. Disney masters this in their attention to every detail at their parks and resorts.
While each successively higher level in the pyramid is increasingly challenging to master, investing in creating an Amazing Customer Experience pays huge dividends, as an ACE results in clients that are raving fans.
By Ace Team August 25, 2014, 11:10 AM
The Three R's of Amazing Customer Experiences
- Reliability. Nothing kills a customer experience like a lack of dependability. You can have the coolest product or service in the world, but if your company cannot be relied upon to consistently provide it, it will soon be a distant memory. Be available when you say will be, meet your commitments and deadlines, and adjust your company culture as needed. The entire customer experience your company can provide hangs in the balance with this one principle.
- Responsiveness. Customers today have unprecedented expectations with regards to responsiveness. They expect returned calls within the hour and returned e-mails within minutes. They want constantly up-to-date information online and faster, more efficient service. Can you offer that?
- Relevance. If Google was unable to present relevant search results, users would look somewhere else. But this concept isn’t only applicable to them. If it’s the Fourth of July in Florida and you’ve got winter boots in your store window, no one is going to walk through your door.
All businesses must maintain relevance if success is to be achieved and sustained. When in search of an ACE, every touch-point with customers should be evaluated against these three essential principles, becausewithout reliability, responsiveness and relevance, your chances of scoring an ACE are zilch!
By Ace Team August 14, 2014, 11:12 AM
The Ultimate Trump Card
Have you ever wondered why some card players seem to win a disproportionate amount of the games they play? They have the very same odds of winning as anyone else at the table, yet somehow they almost always seem to win. Is it because they understand the game better? Or is it because they know the other players; because they are more observant; because they know the odds better; because they are smarter; because they put on a more convincing performance; or because they are just lucky? What is it that gives them their edge?
While in card games you're stuck with the cards you're dealt, that's not at all the case in business. You can largely stack the deck in your favor if you have a firm understanding of how the game is played. In today's highly competitive marketplace, and with increasingly demanding and fickle customers, the game can end quickly. It's critical to create winning strategies, execute well, take chances, learn from mistakes, and try again. As important as those undertakings are, they're no longer enough to secure the success of a company.
The businesses that will thrive in the next decade are those that most consistently play the Amazing Customer Experience (ACE) card.
A trump card is a playing card that prevails over all others. In the experience economy, an Amazing Customer Experience is the trump card that will be required to propel a company to success. Until you have found a way to create an ACE, you're going to continue to chase your customers instead of having customers chase you.
By Jeff Thomas August 22, 2013, 5:27 PM
How Relevant is Your Company?
Relevance is an easy principle to overlook for some businesses, but it is absolutely essential. Relevance is easy to see with information-based businesses. For example, if Google was unable to present relevant search results, searchers would quickly look for a search engine that was able to. But relevance is no less essential for other types of businesses.
Let’s say that you take your car to an auto mechanic and explain that it won’t start. If after checking the car out thoroughly he gives you a long list of things that are wrong with your car, most of which have nothing to do with why it won’t start, you will instantly realize that he doesn’t understand the essential nature of relevancy, and he's likely to have lost some trust as a result. Conversely, if you had told the mechanic that you needed a new starter, and after investigation he reports that the starter is fine but your battery connection is loose and corroded, this guy totally understands the nature of relevance. And having established a high degree of trust, he can provide you with a list of other things you might wish to do to your car, and you are much more likely to authorize those repairs.
Oh, and if he REALLY wanted to score an ACE, he could clean up and tighten the battery connections at NO CHARGE... then he's got a potential customer for life!
By Jeff Thomas August 14, 2013, 5:09 PM
Creating an ACE: Engaging Your Customers
When Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart made the now legendary statement regarding pornography, “I know it when I see it,” it declared something that is also the case with the principle of engagement. We can’t always define what makes something engaging, but we typically know it when we see it.
Gurus expound on the merits and attributes of what make something go viral, but the truth is, things go viral sometimes for no apparent reason except that they are engaging. Things that are engaging inherently capture our attention and hold it for some period of time. Sometimes things that are engaging are humorous, e.g. “Charlie bit me” YouTube video. Other times, we find things to be engaging that are intellectually stimulating or thought provoking or visually striking. Sometimes a person’s voice or accent can be captivatingly engaging. Sometimes it’s as simple as beauty that captivates us. Nothing creates engagement like the unexpected. When Western Pacific pilots cracked jokes related to the boring, repetitive safety instructions, they had everyone’s attention… and when they banked left so that passengers could see the beautiful attractions below, to be sure, everyone on the plane was engaged.
In order to create an ACE, you need to explore ways to captivate and engage your customers and prospects. Occasionally providing an unexpected perk along the way is a great way to capture their attention.
By Jeff Thomas July 29, 2013, 4:32 PM
Customer's High Responsive Expectations
Customers today have ridiculous expectations with regards to responsiveness. It used to be that if you returned a call within 24 hours, or replied to an email the same day, you were considered pretty responsive. No longer! Today’s customers expect return calls within the hour, and return emails within minutes. That’s not to say that you cannot alter expectations, and meet your stated commitments for responsiveness, but the bar these days is very high. Before FedEx, the expectation for receiving an order was a week to ten days. Today, the expectation is one to three days (and in some cases, same-day). In the world of the Internet, the expectation is that your online offerings will reflect current inventory levels, show updated pricing, present one and two-day shipping options, and instant email confirmation (especially if the purchase is for an online product or service).
By Jeff Thomas July 21, 2013, 9:28 PM
Does Your Company “ACE” Reliability?
Nothing kills a customer experience like a lack of reliability or dependability. You can have the coolest product or service in the world, but if your company cannot be relied upon to consistently provide it, your company will soon be a distant memory. If your product has great features, but doesn’t work dependably, the features will seem of little importance. If your customers can’t count on you to be open and available when you say you will be, if you don’t meet your commitments and deadlines, if they can’t count on you in a pinch, you need to take a serious look at the structure of your offering, quality and training of your staff, and your company culture, because your entire customer experience hangs in the balance with this one principle.
By Jeff Thomas July 19, 2013, 1:59 PM
Creating an ACE : Location, Location, Location
Nothing encourages and assists a customer in doing business with you like convenience and ease-of-use. And nothing kills a customer experience like inconvenience and/or something that is painfully difficult to use. In real estate, the old adage “location, location, location” is largely a reflection of the importance of convenience. A business or home that is conveniently located has an edge on any other property.
Sam’s Club has always had a food service/pizzeria at the front of their stores near the checkout lines. The pizzeria also sells soft drinks. But, because buying a soda often translated to waiting in yet another line, Sam’s missed an opportunity to sell a lot more drinks. The good news is that they figured this out (and I’m now counting down the days before their competitors follow suit). Members can now grab an empty cup at the primary checkout, pay for it with the rest of their purchase (thus avoiding having to stand in yet another line), and fill up their cup conveniently on the way out the door. That’s the art of convenience, and it puts Sam’s Club one step closer to an ACE.
By Jeff Thomas July 17, 2013, 4:14 PM
When it Comes to ACE, Looks Do Matter
It's easy to think that for some businesses, or certain areas of business, appearances are unimportant. But Disney® largely dispels this myth when at their Fort Wilderness® campground they place a spotless stainless steel sink in the ground (next to their paved parking spots) as the inlet for campers’ “black and gray” waste hookup. While most campground owners install the cheapest showerhead money can buy, Disney installs a vibrating shower-head. Why? Because these tangible little things make the difference between an experience you’ll never forget and an experience you’ll try to forget. And what did these showerheads cost Disney? Less than the cost difference of a single night’s stay at Fort Wilderness vs. the typical RV park. Some might argue that it is the Disney “brand” that allows them to charge more for their campgrounds. The truth is it’s this uncompromising attention to detail and an unwavering desire to create an ACE that makes the brand what it is. And you bet—a business that creates an ACE can command a premium price and folks will gladly pay it.
Prior to Apple® introducing the iMac®, desktop computers came in boring square metal boxes in your choice of beige, gray and black. The iMacs were amazing little machines that you could buy in any of several scintillating “flavors” and were all-around visually striking. By making the case transparent, with little lights to show something fascinating was going on inside, they demonstrated that they understood that when it comes to the customer experience, appearance really matters.
By Ace Team July 08, 2013, 4:11 PM
Create Customers for Life: How to “ACE” Empathy
Sometimes the best kind of assistance you can offer a client is empathy and/or assurance. When your customer is dealing with a difficult decision, you should help them see that you understand their hesitancy, and then offer them the assurance that you know they will make the right decision, i.e. to buy your product or service assuming of course that it is the right decision.
When a customer has a problem or complaint with your product or service you have an excellent opportunity to produce a great customer experience. Start by listening. Truly try to see their point of view. Encourage them to let it all out. Then with sensitivity and confidence let them see that you are there with one goal in mind; to assist them. Rather than excuses and argument, your empathy and assurance will translate to a salvaged relationship and a customer for life.
By Ace Team July 01, 2013, 8:15 PM (view comments)
Creating an ACE: Giving Your Customers A Road
Map to Success
Zeemah on July 10, 2013, 4:43 PM
Map to Success
By Ace Team June 24, 2013, 8:13 PM
Understanding the Importance of an Amazing Customer Experience
Interestingly, today, customers are not just comparing our company’s customer experience to the kind of customer experience they receive from our direct competitors, rather, they are comparing us to the best customer experiences they receive from any business. After experiencing the “amazing experiences delivered by world-class companies, customers will impose their new standards on you. They will demand the same level of delight and excitement. They will accept nothing but the exceptional. And if you fail to provide it, as many of your industry competitors will, you will be subject to price pressure,” according to Arussy in Exceptionalize It!
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, with increasingly demanding and fickle consumers, the game can end quickly, so it’s critical to create winning strategies, execute well, take chances, learn from mistakes, and try again. But as important as those things are, even that’s not enough to ensure success these days. The companies that will thrive in the next decade are those that most consistently play the ACE, i.e. the Amazing Customer Experience card.
Most often in cards, the ace is the most valuable card in the deck. A trump card is a playing card that is elevated above its normal rank or that automatically prevails over all others. In the experience economy, an Amazing Customer Experience (ACE) will be the trump card that will be required to propel your company’s success. Until you have found a way to create an ACE, you’re going to continue to chase your customers.
Producing an ACE is never an accident. It takes enormous forethought and planning, a willingness to ask the tough questions, courage to take decisive action, and the discipline to stick with it.