We live in an experience economy. The differentiation between competing products or services is fast disappearing. It is not too difficult to replicate them. But building a Wow customer experience takes time, leadership commitment and cultural change.
I am impressed by some brands who created outstanding experiences for me over the past few months. Made me think what is it that separated them from their peers. Surely, it was not just their product or service. It was something deeper.
Empathy - One would not generally associate Air India as a very empathetic brand. But when lockdowns started and international airspace closed, Air India operated its #VandeBharatMission flights to repatriate Indians stranded abroad. I flew on one such evacuation flight. Airlines are adept at managing irate passengers at airport check-in counters. It's tough enough that airline staff has to comply to COVID19-driven safety protocols and ensure their customers do it too. But Air India had the unenviable task of asking its passengers to use PPE on its domestic routes, while ensuring a comfortable flight and on-time boarding. Its staff displayed teacher-like empathy who pull up misbehaving students in their own interest. Their calm composure and mild demeanor in this tense situation is admirable. Hats off to the Air India crew for balancing compliance and experience!
Relationships - It would be an understatement to say hotels have been severely affected by the pandemic. As my family and I quarantined four weeks, Marriott understood it's not easy being locked up with a jet-lagged child in a small room. It's staff and particularly the chef went above and beyond to check on my family every day. The Chef now knows I need my ginger chai strong and piping hot ☺️ But that's something a survey form can also inform Marriott. The staff nurtured a relationship based on my personal context. That elevated the experience to the next level.
Network - My leadership alma matter, GE excels at this. Why should experience be limited to customers? It applies to employees in equal measure. You've probably read this article about GE's tech mafia. Well, the same 'network' (mafia, seriously?) opened up many career opportunities for me, including the one at Indegene. Experience brands consciously expand their customers' and employees' networks. Good word and great experience spreads … and comes around pretty quickly!
I am new to the healthcare industry. But early conversations with industry leaders leads me to believe we have a long way to go to build outstanding customer experiences. Just like what I learnt from my experience with these brands, there are some moments of truth that make or break #CustomerExperience. If you'd like to learn about them, hear from some folks who did it for a living at Sanofi and Marriott here. And if you've had a great experience with a brand, share what they did to earn your heart here!
PS: All views are personal.