Am I buying or are you selling – the power of a great customer experience

Geoff - 27 th April 2016

The last few weeks have been very interesting as we have been in serious consumer mode. We have had to make one very significant purchase; a new car and a less significant, but necessary, new bed.

Stating the obvious, the car is a significantly more expensive purchase than the bed and one might expect that it comes with the excitement and enjoyable customer experience commensurate with its price tag. Buying a new bed is a much more practical transaction and I really did not have any significant expectations of the customer experience. How wrong could I be?

Hats off to Bensons Beds for executing a perfect customer experience that put our needs at the centre of every conversation. A splendid piece of kit allowed them to see how we both slept and where the pressure points were that may cause us to have a bad night’s sleep. Their magic kit allowed us to experience every level of mattress strength so we could find the right one for us.

With the basics sorted we are asked about comfort and went through a testing process to find a mattress top that would do the best job for us. We then moved to pillows (you only ever need one it transpires) but by skilful questioning we identified completely different products, each one designed to suit our own sleeping styles.

The final question was; “is there anything else you need from me”. There was only one answer, show me where to sign and when can you deliver? The experience was so good they didn’t have to sell anything, the experience simply helped us to buy.

Contrast that with the much more significant purchase of a new car. Where shall I start? The false bonhomie, the irrelevant questions and a persistent refusal by some companies to ignore the process and criteria we were going to use to make our decision. The pantomime that is “I will talk to my boss and see what we can do” was played out in full. Everybody knows they are going to do it, it makes no sense.

The reality is that their idea of a customer journey is clearly one designed around their needs not the customers. It is well rehearsed, painfully executed and in some cases totally outdated. I am still waiting one company to email the figures they promised despite receiving the customer satisfaction survey presumably triggered as part of an automated CRM system. Their car was definitely on the list but we have now lost faith in them totally.

It seems is that no one has asked the question that we get our clients to answer for each stage of their Customer journey. 'How does our brand want the customer to feel at this point?' It’s a simple question which then drives the way the experience is delivered. Without it you become generic at best and irrelevant at worst.

Some dealerships did it better than others and it pushed them to the top of the list. The worst damaged both the dealership brand and the car brands they represent.

One dealership manager asked; “What can I do today to sell you this car”. My answer was that you can’t sell it to me, only I can buy.

That was a truth that the people at Benson’s Beds seem to have worked out. They know how they want you to feel and appear to have designed their customer experience accordingly.

The result is an incredibly good night’s sleep. As for car dealerships – a bit of a nightmare. 

Geoff is a director of Brand Vista and is an integral part of the original team. He brings not only marketing skills but also those of business improvement and change management. With his eclectic background of marketing and business improvement, Geoff is ideally placed to help brands get the very most out of a Brand Alignment project.
Find out more about Geoff