The Customer Experience Revolution — Are You Next?
uring 2007 and the particularly economic emptiness of 2008 it became very noticeable that there
were a group of companies, large and small, from
several industries that were better, different, more profitable and
Photos courtesy of Brigantine Media (www.BrigantineMedia.com )
more sustainable than most others. What were these companies
doing? That was the question that motivated the live interviews
and research behind a new business leadership book called The Customer Experience Revolution. These companies, dubbed
“Experience Makers,” included Apple®; Amazon; Starbucks
Coffee Company; Square; Skinit, Inc.; BMW MINI Cooper; and Netflix, Inc. among others.
These Experience Makers redefined industries and changed
customers’ lives for the better. They also changed the expecta-
tions of existing and future customers. Once a market has been changed to a difficult-to-duplicate customer experience, those left competing with just price, features or value-added services are usually marginalized or eliminated.
These customer experience leaders are masters of the three
Ds of customer experience. The companies, which purposely and successfully Determine, Develop and Deliver extraordinary
customer experiences, have a decisive advantage. The aggregate view of Experience Makers reveals how they define customer experience and when it begins:
1. The customer experience includes all interactions people
have with or about a company’s messages, people, pro-
word-of-mouth referrals. “About” also includes very
powerful social media, where one person can quickly
communicate to many people about the extraordinary customer experience they just had.
2. Inside the customer experience is user experience, a
or services. And “about” including viewing third-party
products or services. It is the proof point that promises
with the company’s messages, people, processes, products videos, reading printed opinions such as reviews, and
cesses, products or services. “With” as in direct contact
person’s experience directly interacting with a company’s made during the customer experience are true.
3. Experience leaders believe that customer experience
people indomitable? It was a bold step. Apple was entering a
tinues when they become customers and even energized
exactly was the opportunity for a new entrant to compete with
begins when people are potential customers and conadvocates.
This insight forms a customer experience continuum where
the experience of customer care begins well before a person is actually a customer. All interactions with or about a company’s
already in the market manufactured phones with great value. And others were adept at consistently introducing new technologies, styles and advanced features.
Before 2007, there were already many successful companies
making smartphones, which combine computing, Internet
experiences people want to have along that continuum at the
Apple entered the market, these smartphone companies includ-
strategic, tactical and operational levels. It starts at the top and is part of the company’s culture. “Delivering extraordinary
customer experiences is becoming more and more important,” according to J.D. Power & Associates. “We know from the data that people will pay for it.”
connectivity and other capabilities in a wireless phone. Before
ed formidable competitors such as Nokia, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry®, Palm and Motorola. These telecommunication
giants leapfrogged each other every three months, constantly adding innovative features and functions.
Suddenly, with one announcement, Apple changed the
When people have experiences they do not compare them
playing field by changing customers’ expectations of what a
site that sells and transacts, it might be compared to Amazon,
Apple sold 3.7 million iPhones, with one million sales in the
in nice, neat industrial ways. For example, if you have a web one of the best experience companies for process. That’s one
reason to go out-
smartphone should do for them. In the first year of production, two months following its introduction.
Before the iPhone, Apple was primarily a computer com-
side your industry,
pany, not a phone manufacturing company. And its entry into
iPhone was expensive, with a poor camera, no 3G capabilities
look at the best
ence companies, and
apply the insights from them. Even
if you are not in the
the phone market was in many ways a competitive failure. The
(a standard at that time), no keypad and no memory card. But this technologically weak and feature-poor product transformed
customers to enthusiastic advocates at a rate unseen in the smartphone market.
As Apple saw it, success in this market wasn’t about the
technology, the features, the calling plan or the price. While
or content busi-
exactly what it promised — an extraordinary experience. From
market, computer ness,
these insights can come from a company such as Apple — a
company that took bold steps based on customer experience to enter and redefine a market new to it and change smartphone
all those are important ingredients, Apple’s iPhone delivered the time people heard about the iPhone until they became customers and then enthusiastic advocates, the iPhone offered, by far, the best smartphone experience.
Customers flocked to phone stores to replace their old
customers’ lives forever.
phones with the new iPhones. Even though their old phones
Seeing the customer experience opportunity
aesthetics and prestige of Apple’s new product. Most of all, they
The crowd at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco on
January 9, 2007 could barely contain its excitement. A confident Steve Jobs entered the stage, peered out at the suddenly hushed
were quite adequate, they wanted the charm, buzz, coolness, fun, wanted what they heard so much about from iPhone owners — the pleasurable experience of using it.
Best of all for Apple shareholders, the iPhone was extremely
crowd, and confidently announced, “Today, we are going to rein-
profitable. Apple grossed 50 percent on each sale. Furthermore,
to the phone market. Apple launched the iPhone. And in a few
its stock rose 44 percent. The industry and its customers were
vent the phone.” It was a brand-new phone from a company new
all those successful companies making phones? Some companies
messages, people, processes, products or services affect that
experience. Customer experience companies purposely create
short months the phone industry was changed forever.
What made it a great idea for Apple to enter a market
with large, firmly entrenched corporations that seemed to most
field crowded with tough and experienced competitors. Where
Apple gained 14 percent of the cell phone market in a year, and
so changed that four years would pass before another company, just as new to the phone industry as Apple was in 2007, would directly challenge the iPhone.
Customer Care News
That company was Google, which introduced its Android
had trouble understanding the customer experience advantage
as passionate and committed to anticipating, creating and com-
why Nokia and Research In Motion’s Blackberry® have had
phone in January 2011. And the people at Google are every bit
ing through with remarkable customer experiences as Apple. It is no accident that in the experience revolution, these two Experience Makers, both new to the phone industry, are battling for smartphone supremacy.
Creating the iPhone customer experience
The iPhone offered an innovative experience by intimately
understanding and anticipating what people wanted to do with
their smartphones. The iPhone promised and delivered a pleasurable experience as a phone, an Internet communicator, and a music player.
Apple began studying the market and its competitors at
least three years before it introduced the iPhone. While some
people were having good experiences, most were not. The stylus that phone makers often included to poke and type on the tiny keys of their phones was generally unpopular. It was an enlarged
toothpick-like pointer, a potentially dangerous poker that was
precarious to use. People would worry about where the stylus
of the iPhone. This is likely an important part of the reason difficult times since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. In the smartphone market, they were marginalized by an Experience Maker. If they are to come back, they must at least
be at parity with Apple and Google along the customer experience continuum.
The same approach with the Customer Experience 3Ds can
be said of Apple’s success creating the market for the tablet with the iPad. With an average
selling price of $595 to $645, the iPad sold almost 15 mil-
…SUCCESS wasn’t about
lion units worldwide in 2010
since its introduction in April
created the tablet market by
developing and delivering
The iPhone is a great
in the way. When smartphone owners were focusing on poking
tomer experience that results
from the world around them.
Phone makers promised ease of use. But customers’ actual
experiences were hampered by phones that had cramped key-
boards and tiny hardware pieces that many reviewers and users experienced as feeling “unsure, toy-like or plastic.” Broken promises created an opportunity for Apple to create a better experience.
The smartphone experience that Apple created started
with the elegance of the phone itself and the user experience
or the price.
for mobile customers.
example of how a company
their device, the stylus ultimately disconnected most of them
THE CALLING PLAN
positive customer experiences
was or even lose it. The real job of the stylus was to help people
adapt to the phone maker’s hardware. However, the stylus got
of that year. Apple purposely
can create a complete cusin major success. Apple did its
homework all along the cus-
tomer experience continuum
EXACTLY WHAT IT PROMISED
before it entered the smartphone market. The iPhone
is exemplary. Furthermore, it keeps customers buying
–an EXTRAORDINARY experience.
every time a new iPhone is introduced.
Customer experience is critical to sustainable success today.
that would deliver on the promises made from the beginning
A purposely created customer experience will make a company
user-resistant, fixed-in-plastic buttons and tiny keyboards with
seeing opportunities to be created by customer experience? Are
of the customer experience. For example, Apple replaced the a daring interface. The stylus was replaced with the human
finger — what Steve Jobs called, “The best pointing device in
better, different and more valuable than most others. Are you you next in the customer experience revolution? CCN
the world. One we are born with.” To assure that the screen
Jeofrey Bean is an author, speaker and the principal of Del Mar
developed a screen to interact with people’s fingers by ignoring
wanting to increase the certainty and effectiveness of their deci-
and finger were a gratifying and efficient combination, Apple
unintended touches and hover motions. This intuitive touching
of the screen, or gesture-based interface, allowed users to “flick” This is very much like the experience of turning the pages of a book in real life. It is natural, engaging and, for many, fun.
iPhone’s lure confounded many competitors. Some of them
sions about product and service development, as well as marketing
and customer experience leadership. He is the author of the new
business leadership book The Customer Experience Revolution:
through a menu, between photos, or from one screen to the next.
Research & Consulting, LLC. He is also an advisor to companies
How Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have
Changed Business Forever, with Sean Van Tyne. He can be reached at email@example.com.
During 2007 and the particularly economic emptiness of 2008 it became very noticeable that there were a group of companies, large and small,...