The Customer Experience Tiramisu
Each Layer Has to be Amazing
Jonathan Levav, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, explains that a customer experience has three sequential components that couple together to form a customer’s opinion of your business (source available here). When asked to define customer experience, most people state that it solely consists of the time a customer spends with a staff member. Levav contradicts this notion by layering the concept of psychological utility upon a customer’s experience to illustrate that the experience begins before a customer walks through your doors and continues after they leave. Therefore, you must provide your customer with value before, during, and after their visit to achieve what Levav calls “the Holy Grail, or word of mouth” This Holy Grail ultimately drives customer advocacy.
Good coffee and friendly smiles only go so far; you’re ultimately in the business of selling positive memories. To illustrate this point, Levav asks us to recall our latest vacation. We simply don’t flashback to Disney World (pro tip: don’t go there in August with small children unless you are training for the U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection), you recall the planning, preparation, travel, and the memories. The same holds true for customer experience. Customers don’t define their experience by the time spent at your dealership; they consider their entire journey before deciding if they want to recommend your team during the next family reunion or Euchre game (huge thing in Michigan, or so we’ve been told).
Levav states that the psychological concept of utility defines the customer experience. Utility, in this context, has three distinct flavors: anticipated, experience, and retrospective. Anticipated utility is how much value a customer expects to receive from visiting your dealership. For example, customers expect a lot of utility if they are buying a new car (that new car smell and immaculate floor mats are amazing), but have a different opinion of a two-hour root canal. Experience utility is the value customers derive during their time at your dealership. Getting an oil change in less than 20 minutes is a valuable use of their time while getting marooned in a waiting room for an entire Saturday morning is less so. Finally, retrospective utility is how customers remember spending time with your team. Lightning-fast service and a follow-up call creates positive memories while poor pricing and surly staff members will deliver Google reviews that include phrases such “pit of misery” and “prisoner of war treatment.”
The tricky part about Levav’s model is that you have to deliver value during each portion of the customer’s experience. If you fail to offer anticipated value, customers will take their business to your competition. Providing poor experience utility creates disgruntled customers who will not return. Not going the extra mile to ensure customers have a positive memory of their experience will not transform them into advocates. Yes, this is difficult, but not impossible. Think of it this way: establish high expectations, ruthlessly achieve them, and inspire customers to remember their experience. Recall when Chevy Chase said, “We’re going to have so much fun, we’re going to need plastic surgery to get the smiles off our faces!” That’s the mentality you need to take. Mediocre experience guarantees one thing: your customers will forgot about your team faster than the numbers on a losing lottery ticket. Your team must deliver something so exceptional, that your customers will elevate their experience above the white noise of a world that moves at 5G.
Like Warren Buffet said in our previous blog, “Customers don’t always remember what they bought, but they always remember their experience.” As we all know, customers carry this memory with them and will share it with their family and friends. Therefore, creating positive, memorable experiences for customers purchasing new windshield wipers is just as important as those you create for customers buying a new car. Regardless of their purchase, customer’s “word of mouth” is your return on investment for the extra time and effort you and your team commit to delivering a positive customer experience.
We at Auto Labs pride ourselves on helping your team to create the experience your customers deserve. Call us today to deliver the service that will make your customers want to return with their friends and family.
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