How do you deliver an unforgettable experience to your customers that will differentiate you from your competitors? The answer is fairly simple:
- Understand what customers see as “critical moments” with your product/services.
- Make sure your customers can feel your strategy at those critical moments.
To know how to make your differentiating strategy shine, you have to know when it must shine. Apple, for example, sees the buying, unwrapping, and set-up experiences all as “critical moments” for their products. Sure, customers will use their device long after those experiences happen, but Apple believes if they can deliver a unique, differentiated experience for those activities that showcases their strategy, their products will stand out and essentially win in their marketplace.
Similarly, you need to identify your customer’s critical moments before you can begin to enhance them and deliver your own differentiated experience based on your strategy. If you can’t identify those moments, it is difficult to structure the necessary experiences to win.
Can Customers Feel Your Strategy?
After you identify what the critical moments are, the real work begins. To make the critical moments memorable and distinct to your company, your strategy must “bleed through” to the tangible experiences your customers have with you and your product/service offerings.
This requires organization alignment—ensuring that all of your organization’s capabilities and choices actively drive your strategy. If your organization is not aligned, it is difficult to create a unified experience for customers where they “feel” your strategy.
I’ve seen this with several Finance companies I’ve work with over the years. They all say they will provide their customers with the same thing: “Timely and customized advice for customer’s specific needs.” Unfortunately, rarely could any of these companies actually deliver their strategy nor could they help their customers “feel it.” In the rare occasions when customers did feel the strategy, it was often the result of working with a specific financial advisor or agent rather than a consistent service experience that happened across the company.
All these companies had great ideas/strategies, but the problem came in their failure to design, implement, and execute organization capabilities and choices that could deliver on the promise. Some of the capabilities were deemed too expensive, complicated, or impossible. Others existed in the company but were nullified by misaligned choices that undermined the memorable experiences these could drive for customers.
Although the company got their strategy right, correctly identifying what their customers wanted and where they could differentiate themselves from their competitors, they were unwilling or unable to make the collection of organization changes necessary to support it. Essentially, the strategy never became part of the company DNA, it never permeated the capabilities of the organization, it never became embedded in the organization’s choices, and it never altered the culture meaningfully.
If you want customers to feel your strategy, you must identify their critical moments with your products/services and align your organization’s choices and capabilities to your strategy. Only true organization alignment will enable customers to consistently feel your distinctive offering at critical moments and differentiate your organization from the other noise in the marketplace.