The Dos and Don’ts in approaching customer experience

Newsroom 24/08/2012 | 10:21

Customer experience is not missing in Romania – any organization tackles some punctual issues about what/how it offers its clients and how they feel.

By Octavian Tanase (Grapefruit)

What is missing is the understanding that it is not about just products or the result of isolated services, but that these products and services are always “bundled” in other services/interactions that define customer experience, together with the sold services/products, and which, in the end, define the perception of the brand. Successful companies have acquired this understanding and act consequently.

There can be many causes, but there are three issues which appear in nearly all of them.

Firstly, specific to traditional management, each department is preoccupied by its competency area and no one runs the whole. For example, a retailer who decides to sell online will delegate the project to a department, often an IT one, because this is a “software” project. This department will focus on implementing the platform, thinking that the related processes will work as before, forgetting that the needs of online buyers are different- starting from the much more detailed presentation of the products than in catalogs dedicated to attracting customers in the store, up to the tracking and notification processes during the delivery.

Secondly, focus on the sold product or service, often ignoring the elements that greatly influence the experience of the buyer. An excellent atmosphere and the perfectly cooked favorite food can be ruined by the unreasonably prolonged wait for the check at the end.

Thirdly, the impression/belief that the evolution of a brand is determined only by the product itself and the marketing/communication services. Our experience in branding has proven to us that no matter how well defined and sophisticated a strategy which defines the “golden apple” is ( the attributes and values that the company should internalize and transmit to its public) and no matter how creative the communication campaigns and the visual/verbal identity of the company are, they are not enough to bring concrete results in the absence of aligning customer experience with all these promises.

The problem is that these strategic exercises usually cease at the level of the marketing department and their transfer in the operational area is minimum. As a result, the spectacular results in sales expected by many managers do not take place.

Managers need not only a definition of the place they need to get to (the positive associations of the consumers with the brand) but, it is essential that they need to know how to get there.

Service design/customer experience design represents a controlled approach of the process that should answer the above mentioned needs- a way to align the needs of the consumer with those of the organization and the business so that the solution will work. It departs, obviously, from the business needs and the consumer’s motivations and behavior, but unlike classical marketing, it takes into account the capabilities of the organization and its internal processes.

The need is more strongly felt regarding the electronic environment, especially because the experience of leaders of well-developed offline companies is limited in this domain and as a result, question come up more rapidly. Even multinationals with digital experience in other countries wonder whether the Romanian public will react in the same way and prefer to analyze these aspects (digital or non-digital, because the experience of the consumer cannot be “torn” between these aspects) before copying models (for instance: “What means of delivery do we offer (at home vs. collection at the store?” or “What will we do about the return policy?”)

Delivering quality services in this field involves a cross-disciplinary approach and serious background. It cannot be done with “one man show” consultants, simply because many different specializations are required. Apart from aspects such as marketing, branding and graphic design (to which most consultants confine themselves) there is need for practical experience in work process administration and change, specific knowledge of the beneficiary’s industry, specific knowledge regarding the area of the developed service (for instance, for e-commerce you need specific knowledge of sales & promotion, of usability and good practices of digital design, IT system integration and electronic data transfer etc.) and of course, a work methodology that should unite all these.

Grapefruit is focusing on developing products and digital projects in e-commerce and digital banking services (mobile and internet banking and the management of personal finances). Grapefruit is owned by Marius Ursache (38 percent), Dan Stratan (38 percent), Stefan Liute (19 percent) and Octavian Tanase (5 percent). Last year, Grapefruit posted a turnover of around EUR 680,000. At the moment, Grapefruit has 17 employees- 13 in Iasi and 4 in Bucharest.
The company has over 30 clients, among which Dacia, Renault, OTP Bank, ING Bank, Avocatnet.ro, Sameday Courier, SAB Miller, Sheffiled Executive MBA, Labormed, Alevia.

In picture: Marius Ursache (shareholder) and Anamaria Bogdan (managing director)

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