Is The Best Customer Experience Always The Right Customer Experience?

Jennifer Arnold

My local independent grocery store has gone all fancy, and I’m not happy. Don’t get me wrong, it looks beautiful after the renovation. The scuffed linoleum floors are now gleaming polished concrete. The check-out counters are topped with marble. Natural light streams in from floor-to-ceiling windows. I can now shop with a cappuccino held securely in a specially designed cart. And the place is three times bigger than before. It should mean a better experience. But it’s the reason I’m now shopping elsewhere, as are a number of my friends and neighbors. Let me explain…

Pre-renovation, I could whip through and tick everything off my weekly shopping list in 15 minutes flat. The value in the experience for me was all about convenience and good quality for reasonable (not necessarily the cheapest) prices. Post-renovation, the trip takes nearly twice as long. There isn’t a broader selection, just more of the same items filling the longer shelves, spread further apart. The new marble check-outs don’t operate as efficiently as the old conveyor belt ones. And prices have gone up noticeably – I presume to help pay for renovation costs. Value is gone for me, the experience diminished – and probably likewise for many other long-time customers, given I saw fewer people there each time I stopped in. I’m sure the store will eventually attract new shoppers who value luxury in their grocery shopping experiences, but I hope the owners were prepared to lose long-time customers like me.

While working in marketing and customer experience, I’ve seen many versions of this scenario: brands making what they think are enhancements to customer experience, only to find out customers don’t see the changes as enhancements at all. And that’s assuming they even notice the changes. The reason? The experience isn’t aligned with the brand promise and customer expectations. Customers don’t always want luxurious experiences, high-quality products, or high-touch service if it means they’re sacrificing what they do value, such as convenience and cost. It’s the reason online retail and banking proliferates, the reason Qantas and Singapore Air have separate low-cost carriers in Jetstar and Scoot, and the reason Aldi stocks goods in shipping boxes on the shelves.

If a brand’s value proposition isn’t about five-star experiences and high-end luxury, then the ROI on funds spent trying to offer the “best” experience is unlikely to be high. It’s much more important to simply meet your customers’ expectations in the moments that matter in their customer journeys than to try to exceed expectations in areas they don’t care about. If Aldi were suddenly to display lovely shelf arrangements in the name of improving the experience but their prices stay the same, would their customers care or even take much notice? A brand needs to stay true to its value propositions and focus on enhancements that provide the “right” experience, not the “best” experience, based on what customers value most in their interactions with the brand.

This requires listening to customers to understand not just what they’re doing, but what they’re feeling. What really motivated your customer at what point to choose your brand, select that particular product, decide to shop in your store versus on your website, or give that rating on your call center service? At what point in the interaction did a pain point surface or did they feel a process wasn’t as effortless as they thought it should be, and what impact did that have on their actions?

Only by understanding what your customers truly prioritize in the experiences they have with your brand can you then prioritize what CX enhancements will return the biggest bang for your buck and what to do to keep customers loyal.

If I wanted marble counters and cappuccino when I grocery shop and was willing to pay the price for luxury, I would have chosen a store that offered those amenities all along. But this Sunday, you’ll see me in Aldi.

To learn more about how you can provide the right customer experiences through understanding what your customers are feeling as well as what they’re doing, check out SAP Experience Management.

Jennifer Arnold

About Jennifer Arnold

Jennifer Arnold is Vice President of Marketing for Customer Experience, in Asia Pacific Japan/Greater China, for SAP. She leads the team responsible for brand awareness and demand management for SAP commerce, marketing, sales and service solutions. Prior to this role, Jennifer was head of the Centre of Excellence team in Australia/New Zealand (ANZ), which is responsible for thought leadership, business development, and strategic deal support to increase the business value customers achieve from SAP solutions. She also ran the ANZ demand management program, coordinating the efforts of sales, business development and marketing teams across the company's lines of business to improve customers’ end-to-end buying experiences and increase sales success. Over her 25-year career, Jennifer also held global and regional business consulting and marketing/communications roles at Unisys, IBM Services, and QBE Insurance, and several senior agency roles.