Simplicity Is the Most Elegant Customer Experience
By Blake Morgan | 5.9.17
You’re not the only one who sets your customers’ expectations for doing business with you.
Customers’ expectations are set by their previous experiences with a company and by their experiences with other companies within and outside of your industry. All of these interactions serve as constant comparisons. Imagine how a customer who uses Amazon compares it with an airline, a utility company, or even the DMV?
Customers’ standards change as new and innovative brands exceed their expectations. Consider: After Amazon Prime became popular, online shoppers began to expect not only free shipping, but also free returns from all the e-tailers they do business with. Almost overnight, Amazon completely reshaped customers’ expectations of what should be free and what should be paid for. Similar disruptions are occurring across nearly every industry, as upstarts seek a competitive advantage in a crowded market.
How can brands that want to operate the same way they always have expect to stay relevant? They can’t. They, too, need to change—or risk becoming irrelevant.
It’s not just expectations that are changing
Buyers’ tastes, preferences, and basic assumptions are changing as quickly and considerably as their expectations are. When customers interact with brands today, their interactions often lack the convenience and simplicity they enjoy with technology in their personal lives. So, when a brand does offer those attributes, it can disrupt even a large, established industry.
No one would have thought 10 years ago, for example, that there would be a service model that facilitates travelers staying in the homes of total strangers—and that this would make a sizable dent in the enormous hospitality industry. But it happened.
Airbnb offers a simple user experience that incorporates the same technology its customers are already using in their personal lives. The Airbnb customer experience is nearly flawless because the company’s leadership has clearly traversed the customer journey and considered every move its customers might make. Airbnb CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky is himself a host, which means he offers up his own apartment for Airbnb customers to rent.
The journey is the experience
Customers shouldn’t feel like they’re moving through a customer journey—all they should know is how easy it is to do what they want to do, such as search for destinations or book a rental. Customers never need to think about the Airbnb user experience because it’s designed to be effortless for them. That’s how it is for me. When I open the app, it’s clean and beautiful, like a magazine. I’m greeted with a personal message: “Hi, Blake. Where to next?” I can browse my recent searches, get ideas “just for the weekend,” check out Airbnb favorites, review popular destinations, or read guidebooks for cities I might be interested in visiting. I can easily review past trips or my communication history with my past hosts. Customer service and payments are easy. I receive text notifications that take me directly to Airbnb in-app messaging with my host, and I can text my host when I arrive.
One particular trip to Philadelphia was especially memorable. I never met the host because I didn’t have to. He provided amazing self-service, and it wasn’t necessary for him to be there in person. The key to the apartment was secured in a keypad for which I was given the code. The host had printed out a list of places to go, things to see, and restaurants to try. He had stocked the fridge with healthy snacks. He’d thought of everything. I gave him a perfect review, adding to the many top-star reviews he’d received before mine.
Airbnb represents the pinnacle of modern customer experience. The company facilitates incredible experiences with a seamless customer journey via its technology—yet, everything about the interactions between hosts and customers is human.
Like Airbnb, your digital customer experience strategy needs to be thoughtful and consider the life your customer is living. How will you leverage digital and the technologies consumers use every day to make your customers’ lives easier and better?
About the Author
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author, and speaker. Her first book is More is More: How The Best Companies Work Harder And Go Farther To Create Knock Your Socks Off Customer Experiences. She is the host of The Modern Customer Podcast and a weekly customer experience video series on YouTube.
She’s been ranked as ICMI’s Top 50 Thought Leaders to Follow on Twitter, Clarabridge’s #1 Social Customer Service expert to follow, and Customer Gauge’s top 20 customer experience experts to follow. She's worked with Intel, Verizon Wireless, and many more.