Take a look at this tweet from a happy Publix customer.
The folks at Publix must be doing a lot of things right to get such a vote of confidence from their customers and win a round over the “Always Low Prices” people. For one, they’re not competing on price. Instead, they’re all about customer experience and service. In an interview with Forbes, the President and future CEO of Publix, Todd Jones said, “We believe that there are three different ways to differentiate: service, quality, and price. You’ve got to be good at two of them, and the best at one. We make service our number one, then quality, and then price.”
Clearly, Publix has always known what research is now validating – that customers are willing to pay more for good service. According to a CEI survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. This isn’t limited to retail. In Ernst and Young’s Global Consumer Banking Survey, 2014, consumers chose “the way I am treated” as the second most important reason for trusting their banking provider. The first was, of course, “financial stability” of the bank. Beyond the statistics, there’s enough anecdotal evidence on social media that people like to be treated well, and don’t mind paying more for that privilege.
To provide great customer experience, all the teams at Publix are pulling together – sales staff, training, store layout and design, digital/social media, marketing, and others. Making customers happy is a team sport and requires attention to detail. A crucial detail Publix hasn’t forgotten about is making customers feel like they are being heard. Look at what they’ve chosen to write on the ‘About’ section of their Facebook page:
“Consider this page an extension of your store experience. We’re looking forward to talking with you.” And, further down, “We know we aren’t perfect and sometimes you may be upset with us. We do not plan on removing your comment unless it includes vulgarity, racial comments…”
So, while there may be some unhappy customers, they’re being invited to share their feedback and, if they feel their problems are being resolved, chances are they will be back. This focus on listening to the voice of the customer, keeping a pulse on what customers are saying and using that to decide what the business should start doing, stop doing, and keep doing, can be the difference between make and break.
The good news is that a lot of companies are getting this – according to the Gartner 2015 CEO Survey, Customer Experience Management, or CEM is one of the top three areas of focus for CEOs over the next 5 years. A 2014 Gartner survey of marketing organizations revealed that 89% of marketing leaders expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016, as compared with 36% just four years ago.
What steps are you taking to capture the voice of your customers?