By Kriti Jain

Majority of the startups fail. Failure is a hard fact. According to an article in Fortune, nine out of ten startups fail. A Gallup study says that about 50% of new companies in the US fail in their first five years. Commonly cited reasons include no product need, running out of cash, changing markets and regulatory environments, and not having the right team.

In my opinion, the next big differentiating factor in deciding a venture’s success is going to be customer experience. It is no longer enough to just come up with a great concept or a product. Customers nowadays expect an exceptional experience. Something that engages them emotionally. A story that they can remember fondly and narrate to themselves and to their friends. A product or service that has solved a problem for them and reduced their pain.

Here are my top three lessons on generating a fantastic customer experience.

  1. Exercise empathy. That is to say, step into the users shoes to figure out exactly what they are looking for. That will give you ways to personalize. Anything – small or big – that solves a problem for the customer will be hugely rewarding for your business too. Take the example of going for X-ray, CT scans, or MRI machines. Dough Dietz, an industrial designer, working with GE Healthcare saw that children were terrified with these. He put together a team to develop an innovative design-based experience for the kids that they called Adventure Series. The machines now looked like spaceships and castles. In fact, after the scanning, several kids asked their parents when they could be back for another visit.
  2. Generate emotions. If you have ever been to a LUSH Cosmetic store, you know what I mean. You would be able to smell the store from quite a distance on the street. Customers can feel, touch, and try the products. There is always an employee who approaches you to give you a personalized tour of their shop. There are demonstrations of the products. Employees provide free samples with personally written messages for you. And after you are back home, you can view how the products are made through their Youtube series How It’s made. That generates authenticity.
  3. Be proactive. It is no longer enough to have customer support staff that responds when the customers face difficulties. By then, chances are that you have lost that customer already. People start interacting with your product or service even before you know it. From hearing about it, searching for it on social media, doing first trials and evaluations, purchasing it, to its continued use (hopefully). Nike’s example of digital retail experience is a nice example of this. Map out the entire journey of your customers with your company and look out for all these touchpoints to make these interactions joyous and memorable.

So if you are about to start your own business or trying to extend your brand, think of how you can connect with customers across all their moments with your venture and provide them a multi-sensory memorable experience. Think of the WOW factor!

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Kriti Jain is a behavioural scientist passionate about developing research and training leaders in making better decisions. She is currently Professor & Marie Curie Research Scholar at IE Business School, Madrid, Spain and can be found at www.kriti-jain.com