Is your business different from other businesses because you offer different products or services? Actually, all of us are in the same business: making customers happy. The better the customer’s experience with your business, the more it will thrive.
We ran across a book that’s making waves because it explains exactly why you should make the customer experience your priority and how you can understand and fine-tune it. The book is called Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine from Forrester Research. Why?
In a world where nearly any product or service can be readily purchased from an array of competitors, the customer experience sets you apart. Outside In provides case studies showing that it isn’t just a nice idea – it affects your profitability. Author Harley Manning noted in a recent post, “A firm called Watermark Consulting […] used our data to prove it for themselves by calculating the performance of a portfolio of publicly traded companies that are leaders in our Customer Experience Index. Over the past five years, a period when the S&P 500 was essentially flat, that prtfolio produced a cumulative total return of just over 22%. During the same period, a portfolio of customer experience laggards returned –46%.” How?
Outside In defines the focus as “how your customers perceive their interactions with your company.” Perception is personal and emotional, so one bad experience can outweigh many good ones. And anything can go wrong at any point.
Therefore, Outside In doesn’t just give concepts, but actual how-to information. The authors show how to analyze the customer experience and how to make it central to every part of the business, from the lawyers to the greeters. We found it particularly noteworthy that the end of a customer service experience is critical. As Manning noted in another post, “You can send customers off to bad-mouth you because you ruined the checkout process (if you’re a retailer) or the discharge process (if you’re a hospital).” Since our business is collections, we’re in the unique position of influencing customer perception about our clients’ companies. We strive to ensure a positive interaction by providing excellent, friendly service.
If you’re looking to improve your customers’ experience (and everyone should be!), we recommend reading this book. What’s on your reading list these days?