Goldfish, the customer experience and the indeterminate growing conundrum

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There is a misunderstanding about goldfish. The urban myth, perpetuated for decades, is that goldfish will only grow as large as the container they find themselves swimming in. Not true it turns out. When properly cared for, goldfish don’t in fact stop growing because unlike humans, they are indeterminate growers; they grow until they die. What stunts a fish’s growth is a poor quality environment and improper care. Kind of like some of the customer experiences we have grown too familiar with. Goldfish customer experience

Leading retailers for example have traditionally put their customer experience in a proverbial bowl, centering their attention on the in-person/in-store experience, perfecting the greetings, the upsells, the “thank-you’s for being a customer.” These brands consistently target, train and retain employees who share in the company’s mission to create and nurture exceptional in-store experiences to each and every customer all while paying lesser attention to the other customer engagement environments.

Suffice it to say, the customer experience needs a little more “water” in order to thrive.

Due to a confluence of technological, social and economic factors, customer engagement has changed dramatically over the past several years. Consumers today want to engage with their favorite brands in ways that are familiar to them: text, Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, et al this is in addition to their experience at the register, or at the table, or in front of the fitting room mirror. With a strong in-person experience they can become disappointed when that incredible experience is followed up by a conversation with a call center agent who has no idea what they just purchased, or they receive an SMS text message with a discount offer on patio furniture when they’ve lived in an apartment for the past two years.

Consumers innately want experience continuity. They want simple things like consistency across experiences. Without knowing it they want a bigger bowl. Here is how brands can give it to them:

Extend the in-person experience

There is no reason why a brand cannot duplicate the charm and rapport customers have with a clerk or barista on digital channels. Extend the experience on Twitter with informational updates on their favorite beverages or drop them a message on Whatsapp about the origin of my favorite roast…..Personalize it, extend it, make it more frequent.

Ignite your community

Connect fellow do-it-yourselvers with each other, let them share designs, application ideas. Help them find people who have the same challenges they do and create a forum to let them engage and exchange. Not only does it create brand stickiness, it also provides a plethora of useful data that can be used in product development and marketing.

Boil everything down to one conversation

Engagement creates loyalty and loyalty keeps customers but nothing says you aren’t committed to your customers like when they text you about a one-minute overcharge and you have no idea what they are talking about. You need to be committed to integrating and connecting all conversations into an Omni-channel experience. Let your customers start a conversation on Twitter and pick up where they left off on text all the while giving them the easy option of calling an agent at any time during the interaction.

A brand’s customer experience, like the goldfish, needs a better environment than ever to flourish – mainly because customer engagement is more important than ever. But the path towards the new customer engagement model is certain – change and digital choice are no longer the fringe, they are the norm and the opportunity to surprise and delight customers on these channels is huge. Together the art of the possible takes all involved to the next level.  We are committed to doing this with you and welcome the opportunity to be your partner for years to come.

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Joe Gagnon, Chief Customer Strategy Officer

Joe Gagnon is Chief Customer Strategy Officer at Aspect. For over 20 years Joe has studied the evolving relationship between companies and consumers and how content and customer interaction affects that relationship. From Penn Foster, to IBM, Exit 41 to E&Y, Joe has helped some of the most well-known companies solve their customer engagement challenges.
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