Customer Experience: The Wow Investment

CX capitalizes on the mindset of the “typical” customer, and it delights by exceeding expectations.

by Mary Bowen Cates

A great customer experience means exceeding customer expectations in order to convert them to loyal buyers. It means delivering the basic expectations of your product or service in addition to delivering unexpected services or conveniences – the “wow” factors or the delighters. Customer Experience (CX) matters for all brands, including cost leaders.

I used to see dollar signs when I thought about all of the things that make a great customer experience. It must be more expensive to “wow” the customer. Aren’t those costs going to add to the price? Is CX strategy and implementation only relevant to premium differentiators like Apple and irrelevant to more price-driven companies like Wal-Mart?

For a while I traveled down this flawed path, thinking CX only applies to a premium market. Now that I work daily in the CX space, I see both the qualitative and quantitative impacts of CX efforts done right. CX is sustainable and strategic across all business models, including cost leaders.

CX implementation is really about matching the level of the “wow” with the mentality of the buyer.  For example, a cost-conscious Target customer may be wowed with a floor layout based on clothes and accessories that look great together because that makes the experience even more convenient. A Nordstrom customer expects a higher level of service to be wowed, like an in-store image consultant that can help you shop based on what best suits your style and body type.

In both situations, CX is an accelerator. It capitalizes on the mindset of the “typical” customer given the company’s competitive positioning, and it delights by exceeding those customers’ expectations. This means great CX requires innovation in order to realize & implement delighters before the customer begins to expect them. It also requires financial analysis to determine which delighters are most important, and therefore, worth the investment. But CX does not require a high price tag for the customer. 

Still not convinced that CX works for low-cost business models? Consider this: 

Low cost competitors do not have the luxury of price inflation. They must excel in customer experience to improve customer retention and increase repeat purchases, thus reducing acquisition costs and keeping prices low. CX is an investment, not an expense. Amazon is undeniable proof of this concept. They are the gold standard of great CX and low costs.

Implementing the “wow” factor may be a matter of minor adjustments to current state business processes. For example, Chick-fil-A employees are known as the friendliest in the industry because of their demeanor. This standard of politeness is a simple practice with a low price tag, but it goes a long way to wow the customer when compared with other fast food restaurants. 

Regardless of the company’s cost structure, investing in CX just makes sense. Focus on what the customer wants, and do those things better than the customer expects (and better than the competition). Voila— you’re on your way to mastering the art of CX.   

When was the last time you were "wowed" by the experience and the price tag?

Mary Bowen Cates
Mary Bowen Cates
Senior Consultant
Contact Mary Bowen

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