A Product is Only a Part of Customer Experience

It is only a matter of time and success rate, before competition will re-engineer the functionality of your new product or service and bring to the market a newer, shinier, and more affordable offering.  When that happens your market share growth stumbles and starts to decline, price pressure starts to erode profit margin, and your brand becomes an also-ran instead of a leader. It is a much more complicated undertaking to re-engineer customer experience, but it can happen too if you don’t pay attention to the market landscape. Let me offer a couple examples:

  1. Dyson introduced to the market easily maneuverable vacuum cleaners that offered revolutionary design, much more functionality (“appropriate amount of suction”), and panache advertising messaging for a premium price. Its inventor was knighted (Sir James Dyson) and became a celebrity. However, after a few years of Dyson leading their segment of the market and winning patent battles against “wannabe” competitors, Euro-Pro came out with Shark vacuum models that performed as well or better at the lower price than Dyson. As a former customer of Dyson, I cannot re-call anything special about my experience of owning their product.

Dyson CX report

The best part of it was the experience of being a Bed, Bath and Beyond customer—and that is where I bought my new Shark at the half of the Dyson’s vacuum price. Now, Hoover and others are coming to market with comparable products that force Dyson to bring lower priced models.

Dyson vs Shark

2. A more controversial example involves a “religious” icon – the iPhone. Once a gift of elegance and simplicity, it used to be the gold standard in a product category it arguably created. The committed base of Apple fans, standing in line for days to get their hands on a new model, propelled iPhone consumer expectations for customer experience to previously unseen heights. While iPhone dominated the market for early adopters of technology, mass market participants failed to see an overwhelming difference in experience between iOS and Android products that would justify the price deferential and high expectations.

iPhones Market Intelligence analysis

Even the latest flagship model (5S) continues the pattern of disappointment with Customer Support.  And while iPhone 5S leads the segment (flagship models) today with social NPS® score 53, it is below HTC One in terms of reliability (19% above average), and below Samsung Galaxy S4 in terms of audio experience, design and video quality (23%, 34% and 15% above average respectively). It is not surprising that iPhone market share is shrinking from quarter to quarter.

”The iPhone’s share of the smartphone market peaked at nearly 24% in the holiday quarter of 2011, according to research firm Gartner. But Apple’s share dropped to 21% the next holiday season, and again to 14% last quarter. Android dominates the market with a 79% share.”

The loss of market share is not caused by Apple’s failure to bring a quality product to the market. It is caused by Apple’s failure to live up to expectations of customer experience it has created.

 

As functions and features of products become more commoditized, the holistic customer experience of dealing with your brand becomes the real differentiator in the market place. It cannot easily be infringed upon, reverse engineered, or acquired by competitors. And if you embrace customer centricity as a long-term strategy for your brand management, the customers will embrace your brand as the first and only choice for them.

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7 Responses to A Product is Only a Part of Customer Experience

  1. Harry Cruickshank says:

    Amen to that!

  2. Ben Quigley - Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Executive says:

    This is really useful Greg. A very important point, and one that is sometimes difficult to quantify… and therefore hard for leadership teams to internalize without that data. I’d love to see other studies or articles that correlate a focus on customer experience and strong, positive business results. If you or anyone else has other examples or articles, I would love to see.

  3. Jeffrey Stewart - consultant, entrepreneur and innovator at the intersection of marketing and digital technology says:

    Greg, that is an excellent real life example of differentiation. I like this course of discussion about the importance of putting Customer Experiece in the forefront of product strategy. As has been pointed out, once everything else is commoditized, superior Customer Experience is the only differentiator. The Forrester CXi data show the effect on success and profitability. Thanks again.

  4. Daniel Sise - Director of New Business at Laser Technology Inc says:

    Dyson Customer Experience Second to None – I own a Dyson and have a special service dog, a Yellow Lab named Hank and I clogged my Dyson with dog hair. Tried to fix it my self to no avail. Called Dyson Customer Service and was blown away with my experience. Once I explained my problem the agent blew my mind and replied, “Please wait a minute and I will be back with that model and we will fix it over the phone.” And 10 minutes later all was good. WHOA!

  5. Gregory says:

    @Daniel – You described an example of great Customer Service from Dyson. Customer Service is an important attribute or component of Customer Experience, but definitely should not be confused for one. There are many other attributes to consider when you evaluate and measure Customer Experience, Loyalty and/or Customer propensity to recommend. This article was not written to criticize Dyson or Apple. These are just illustrations of the point.

  6. Karthik Nagendra says:

    Customer centricity & customer experience are a very integral part of any marketing strategy today. It is all the more important in the case of content marketing strategies that companies adopt. If you are not listening right to the consumers, providing them the kind of content they would like to see from your firm & it can mean a dead end for the brand!

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