The customer experience has increased in importance over the past few years with service-based business models proliferating like cloud computing.

The purchasing power is now firmly in the hands of the customer as they can decide not to renew a cloud provider’s subscription-based service and walk away from the relationship.  Gartner defines customer experience as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.”  For cloud providers, having an excellent customer experience should be a top priority as it is critical for renewing existing clients and attracting new ones.

Recognizing the importance of the overall customer experience, over the past few years many organizations have created new roles such as the chief customer officer and vice president of customer experience.  To be successful, organizations need to take a deep and broad look across all touch points that a customer would interact on a daily basis.  What is behind providing an excellent customer experience? To answer this, I spent time researching a variety of different viewpoints and found the simplest answer from Seth Godin (author of Linchpin, Tribes, and Purple Cow) in a blog post he wrote titled, Who cares?.  Godin is correct when he wrote, “Caring, it turns out, is a competitive advantage, and one that takes effort, not money.”

Caring drives better results.  Looking at Godin’s topic of caring from a sales perspective is very telling.  Salespeople that care tend to develop strong client relationships and are consistent top performers.  Whether this comes from having high emotional intelligence or some other innate behavior, caring is a unique quality that, in my view, is a recognizable trait when experienced by numerous clients over a period of consecutive years.

  • Caring is what makes one a good listener with an inquisitive nature about the success factors and desired outcomes that matter most to a client.
  • Caring is fundamental to providing excellent customer service time and again — helping clients when they need the service provider’s support most.
  • Caring is what ultimately leads to being a trusted advisor.

Godin further writes, “Often it’s the CEO or the manager who sets a standard of caring about the details. Even better is a culture where everyone cares, and where each person reinforces that horizontally throughout the team … Like most things that are worth doing, it’s not easy at first and the one who cares isn’t going to get a standing ovation from those that are merely phoning it in … I think it’s this lack of early positive feedback that makes caring in service businesses so rare.  Which is precisely what makes it valuable.”

Having employees that care throughout the entire customer experience from sales and marketing to service and support is critical to sustained competitive advantage.  With the maturing of “Voice of Customer” technologies organizations will be able to glean insight into customer sentiment across multiple touch points to understand their collective customer experience.  The fundamental notion of caring will drive each touch point to provide the best customer experience possible.  This, in turn, will help organizations retain more valued customers and gain new ones.

So … who cares?  You should.

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