Forget Tech. Customer Experience is the new Revolution.
There’s a common misconception that the startups doing well, the ones really soaring to Unicorn heights, are there because they’ve built amazing tech that differentiates them – the buzzwords of FinTech, HealthTech, PropTech continue to dominate. While it’s true that 18 of the top 20 valued Unicorns have a heavy tech emphasis, what actually lifts them from a ‘tech’ startup to a Unicorn is not their tech itself, but the Customer Experiences they create. Whether it’s Uber enabling customers to order cabs to their location, AirBnB completely turning the hotel experience on its head, or Coupang taking on Amazon in the e-commerce marketplace, what stands out is how the customer experience leads their evolution.
Interestingly, it doesn’t have to be an incredible customer experience, just a service which significantly outperforms the industry standard: bank accounts that take less than the standard 3 days to set up are extraordinary in comparison; business productivity technology that runs at the pace people actually work at instead of constantly lagging is extraordinary by comparison. In reality, it’s often actually no more than you would hope for, if someone designed this type of service from scratch – it’s just that the current customer experience is so poor across that industry (remember ‘allow 28 days for mail order delivery’ anyone?), that any significant improvement seems extraordinary and revolutionary.
The Unicorns are providing their customers with a feeling of transformative change. The product speaks to the customer, because it understands their pain points, and makes a significant dent in them, while not removing them completely. This applies whether it’s a B2C or a B2B relationship. The challenge, though, is staying ahead of the pack – as their ‘extraordinary’ becomes the new ordinary for everyone, how do they continue to break the norms and outstrip the competition? Apple have historically been a leading example of how to deliver comparatively extraordinary customer experience, but their last few launches have been less revolutionary, and the customer experience they offer now is not dramatically different to that of their competitors.
So how do you create a comparatively extraordinary Customer Experience?
First you need to build a body of knowledge around 4 key areas:
- What do your customers actually want to achieve?
- What frustrates them about trying to achieve it?
- What are the ‘rules’ and accepted standards within your industry?
- What are the business processes needed to achieve what the customer wants?
Once you have that information, then the ‘secret sauce’ is working out how you can break some of the rules to delight the customer instead of frustrate them, while not bankrupting your company. Its always worth challenging every ‘rule’, even if it’s a regulator-driven one – regulators are usually open to exploratory conversations, providing your aim is to improve customer experience and not commit crime!
Technology might be a massive enabler to these highly successful startups, but what it comes down to is that they paid attention to their customers and were willing to break the mould to serve them better. Even if you aren’t setting out to establish a Unicorn, taking time out to assess your current business and see if you can make small changes that will delight your customers will pay you back ten-fold. Try it!