One Friday evening, my kids asked for ice-cream sundae. They have heard their friends raving about the delicious ice-cream sundae from McDonalds. That triggered their desire to try it. We drove to the McDonald’s nearby and ordered two ice-cream sundae. Seconds later we have learned that their ice-cream machine is broken. With two disappointed sad faces in the back seat, I decided to drive 1 mile further and get to burger King. Once we stand in front of the counter, my two kids immediately shared their “disappointment story” of not able to get ice cream sundae from McDonald’s. The lady in front of the counter patiently listened and showed empathy. Then she gave extra chocolate fudge on the ice-creams. That made my kids’ evening very happy. They left burger king very happy and satisfied.

The following Friday evening, I suggested let’s go to McDonald’s and get ice-cream. My kids immediately said:” No! We want to go to Burger King.” At that moment, I realized that last Friday’s experience has formed a certain perception in my kids’ mind about the brands. Even with their friends’ strong advocates about McDonalds’ ice-cream sundae, this one buying experience has formed their preference for the next purchase.

Why is customer experience important?

Just as any brand which offers products or services, every interaction created feelings towards the brand for the customers. That feeling leads to the buying decision. As the world changes so fast, competition is getting more fierce. The advantages created by technology is no longer the long lasting differentiator. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Here are some interesting statistics:

 . Customer experience is set to be the number one brand differentiator in 2020 (and beyond)

 . 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience,

 . Customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great customer experience,

How to manage customer experience?

Going through last year’s global pandemic, many business leaders experienced the limited opportunities for engagements with customers. Especially as a new supplier, there are limited numbers of touch points with the target customers. How do you keep customers interested, responding and engaged?

The answer is Value Differentiation.

It is not the technology innovation and price advantage that gets you in front of the customer’s mind. It is the experience that they have towards your brand leads to interest for further engagements, eventually creates trust. When customers have a problem that you can help solving, they think of you. Customer engagement no longer relies on the person to person interactions only. The person to person interaction is only part of the touch points. There are many digital touch points that generated customer feeling which you may not aware of. Business need to shift from inside-out thinking to an outside-in mindset. Instead of survey the experience customers had, proactively design the ideal experience you want your customers to have. The competitive advantage is not in the product you offer or the pricing you provide. It is in the unique value you provide to the target customer and the experience you created for them which leads to more interests, more response and eventually more engagements.