Thursday, January 3, 2019

Customer Experiences are Like a Box of Chocolates!

By Jodi Beuder

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn 

The movie "Forrest Gump" has so many great scenes and themes running through it that it is darn near impossible to settle on my go-to favorite moment. Pair those scenes with arguably one of the greatest movie Soundtracks of all time, and you’ve got endless possibilities for tugging on your emotional heartstrings – and I mean that as the highest compliment.

If I had to pick favorite scene, it may have to be the most iconic one. You know, the famous box of chocolates and a bus stop. Forrest sits at the bus stop holding his box of chocolates, recounting his “story” to the variety of strangers that come and go as he waits for his bus. It’s been a long journey already trying to reach his destination, Jenny. They haven’t seen each other for years and this box of chocolates was her gift. Alas, as he offers away the chocolates (as he is inherently kind), we see he’s already eaten half the box. Hey, who wouldn’t after that long journey? It’s a sweet moment that brilliantly paints a picture of the character. There’s much you can draw from this scene, but what I always wondered was, why didn’t they show him picking through the chocolates. A lot can be said about how a person approaches choosing how to eat, or pick apart a box of chocolates. Allow me to explain…

From my observations, how a person selects and then reacts to the particular type of chocolate they’ve chosen says a lot about their personality. Stay with me here. There are three types of chocolate choosers:

  1. The Researcher: these are folks who read all of the descriptions and map of the chocolate on the box lid prior to selecting so they know exactly what they’re going to get. 
  2. The Biters (not to be confused for Walkers, Zombies or anything else on trend): these folks will simply (and often aggressively) bite into half the chocolate and if they like it, finish it off. If they don’t like it, they put the half-eaten piece back and select another one, working their way through the box, leaving a chocolate graveyard in their wake and,
  3. The Beta. This last Chocolate Chooser is the one who doesn’t read the guide, doesn’t aggressively dive in, but takes a taste then suffers silently eating the whole piece, like it or not. For now I will refrain from divulging my endorsement of one of these methods.

In pondering all this, it got me thinking; Customer experiences are like a box of chocolates. Forrest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” This is a perfect analogy for the customer service industry. We never know exactly who are customer will be. The more crucial question is, how will we approach this “Box of Customers”. To answer that question, I hereby endorse Chocolate Chooser Number 1, The Researcher! If we want to be in business for the long run, then we can’t approach difficult customers like a pistachio cream-filled chocolate and abandon them halfway. Apologies to pistachio cream-filled chocolates.

We must leverage all of our available tools, to determine who our customers are, and what expectations they may have. Creating exceptional customer experiences requires a strategy and commitment from beginning to end.

When we know our customers and guide them on their journey with our brand and product we can be assured that we’ve done our part in creating an experience that keeps them coming back. The key to providing great customer experiences is to use all the resources and tools we have available through CRM software, proven training techniques, and analytics to know as much about our customers as possible. Once we know our customers we can then craft strategies to deliver the best customer experiences based on our knowledge. Just like reading the guide on the chocolate box lid, if we deploy the right tools then we can deliver the best customer experiences and feel confident about “what’s in the center.”

While you may be the type of person who doesn’t mind the surprise when biting into a chocolate, when it comes to delivering customer experiences that are repeatable and predictable then you’ll have to kindly dispense with mama Gump’s advice and use all your tools available to best understand your customer and the types of experiences they expect from your company. Buy all means; keep the element of surprise in chocolate. When it comes to customers, it’s always a good idea to read the guide.

Jodi Beuder is a marketing strategy expert, with a passion for customer experience. She is keen to creating and following through, from canvas to fruition. Her expertise includes targeted social media campaigns, content and internet marketing, and product and branding campaigns.

Connect with Jodi: LinkedIn | Twitter

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