Windward Insights

The Great Customer Experience Debate

Written by Michele Darwin

Positive and negative feedback concept.

There’s a pattern that forms during an election year when the candidates from all sides take part in debates. The candidates speak, debate ensues, and inevitably for days afterwards our social media feeds are full of opinions from followers that range from happy to downright irate. When people don’t hear what they want, the discussion can go south quickly. In this particular election year, I have seen many posts from people threatening to leave… the country.

It may seem a bit extreme, but to be honest, it’s not unlike what we see in IT consulting. Customers hold more power than ever before and many of their decisions on where to spend their hard-earned money are based on the experience they receive. Not the price they pay, not a brand they choose—but the experience.

Customer experience is just as important in the delivery of services as it is to a hotel or retail chain looking for loyal customers, and I doubt anyone would want to debate how important it is in those spaces. Customers know exactly what they want and are well-informed about the numerous choices available to them. With so many choices in the services market, a single outage or other issue is all it takes for a customer to immediately seek out an alternative.

So, how do you achieve perfection and avoid customer churn? I don’t know that “perfection” is realistic, but a service provider must buy into the idea that they are constantly being judged by customers. Quickly identifying service issues and rapidly fixing customer problems is always important. But, what often gets missed is having a real understanding of what the customers—both internal and external—expect, not just what you offer.

I really don’t think that we would see people flock to Canada next January if the election doesn’t go their way, but I can say without a moment of hesitation that if companies don’t focus on the customer experience, they will not achieve the success their shareholders are expecting because their customers will leave in search of better options.

Every company claims to put the customer first, but will your customer experience initiatives differentiate yourself from the competition? If not, you may soon find yourself the victim of your own customer mass exodus.