A Modern Fairy Tale (Part 4 of 4) – You don’t need a customer experience strategy – You already know what to do
(Parts 1, 2 and 3 are here, here and here.)
[The big day has arrived…]
Yes, this is it. My big day has arrived. Why do I have a feeling of ‘It’s either death or glory’? I feel ready. I have rehearsed about a dozen times.
[Waiting outside the conference room…]
I can hear them speaking from out here. “And what have we next? Ah yes, Richard Starkey is here to talk to us about a possible new customer experience strategy. Danielle, can you please open the door for him?”
[And here I go. Wish me luck!]
“Good morning everyone. My name is Richard Starkey, though my friends call me Ringo. A few weeks ago I went to John to propose an improvement for customers that I really believed in. John asked me to go beyond my personal opinions and to find out what customers really want us to improve. Well, the first thing I can tell you is that I was wrong. I thought I had a brilliant idea. Our customers didn’t. Let me tell you a bit about that journey.
Customer experience strategy is like any other strategy. It is about allocation of resources. Where can we concentrate our people and money so that we can win? What things should we stop doing so that we can free up additional people and money for the few things that will make a difference? In terms of the decision process, the most important step is to ask customers what they want. Then give it to them.
[I explained the six components of my investigation…]
There were six parts to my work. The first thing I studied was how happy our customers are with our services, and what they want us to improve. About 2,000 of them provided their views, including all 30 top spenders. In short, they like our services a lot. Both men and women love us. And three improvement suggestions came out well ahead of the others. More about that a bit later. Though I think I can summarize what our customers want and need in five words: All you need is love.
Second, I looked at our competitors. While Tinder seems obvious, our customers told me that they feel they have upgraded from Tinder to us. Yes, many people looking for a date or hookup use Tinder. Match.com and eHarmony are in the same space as Tinder, though a small step up. Like us, their customers answer questions and create a profile. The rest is essentially up to the customers. No speed dating. No parties. At the high end, Adler’s Selective Search and similar dating agencies charge up to $25,000 a year, and have some success in wealthy circles. They seem to have great parties, though perhaps a bit too sophisticated (meaning boring) for our clients. At the moment, our video speed dating and amazing parties differentiate us. Our clients say that the $125 they pay for our parties is excellent value. One customer of elite Russian origin told us they reminded her of being Back in the USSR. In short, our business model is currently unique, though it could be copied.
Third, I looked at our partners. I took the additional step of talking to the three hotels we use for our parties. They would like to sell more hotel rooms, and would be willing to give us a percentage if we can help them. This also ties into the preferences of some of our customers.
Overall, our industry is constantly changing. Love will always be a great and profitable industry. However, Silicon Valley and other startups are a threat to our video speed dating offering. Startups are special companies. There is a broad tolerance for them to make substantial losses for a long period of time. We don’t have that luxury. It is critical to retain the link to the physical parties. Without it, we could not have a profitable video speed dating business. Participation in the speed dating must continue to be a condition of entry for the parties. We just need to Let It Be.
The fifth item is external factors, notably government regulation. Some of our potential competitor have crossed the regulatory line and are being investigated for setting up illegal prostitution networks.
Finally, there is our own ability to execute. What are we actually capable of doing? My answer is: just a few things, and they all need to be local, here in our great city of eight million people. I do not believe we are currently capable of replicating our model in another city. Nor do we need to.
[Must remember to show my gratitude…]
When John gave me this assignment, I have to say my reaction was Help! I need somebody… And I got that help from Paul and George who are here today, and Claire who seems to know everything and everyone. Thank you.
So, based primarily on what our customers have told me, here is what I want to propose as three strategic initiatives, all of which can be delivered in less than nine months:
- Our customers tell us they love our parties. They are always full. They differentiate us. We currently partner with three of the eight five-star hotels in our city. Let’s take that to five hotels, starting with the new one over on Abbey Road, followed by the one on Penny Lane. This means running five parties per month, rather than the three we run at the moment. Imagine all the people. Customers love the hotels themselves. If they can have the opportunity to visit all five, the will benefit from an almost Magical Mystery Tour. Yes, it will take a proportional increase in party staff to do this.
- For reasons that should be obvious, many customers tell us they find a sudden need to secure a hotel room, right away, while the parties are still on. The hotels we use are often full. I discussed this in depth with out top 30 customers. They are the core people who have this particular need. I think I would call it a need for A Hard Day’s Night. I therefore want to propose an additional offer for our parties: a combined ‘Party and hotel room’ offering. All three hotels are willing to give us 20% of the full room price if we introduce this offer. We can choose whether to keep the 20% or pass it on to our most loyal customers.
- There are customer concerns about the confidentiality of the video speed dating application we use. Yes, some of our customers are in stable relationships and their partners do not know of our existence. One of them, Eleanor Rigby, mentioned using non-existent ‘business trips’ and family emergencies were as excuses. We need to ensure that all conversations are encrypted, and that the service provider keeps no record whatsoever of their having happened. I have discussed this with Michelle, and it is possible, for about $80,000 that she does not currently have.
Women expressed a particular concern that men did not. They wonder how they can have new clothes to wear each time they attend an event. I have looked at a partnership with a high-end clothing rental company like Rent The Runway, but don’t really see what would be in it for us. That may be worth exploring further, once we have completed one of the first three initiatives.
[And now the hard part…]
So, how can we afford the new initiatives? I have looked into this and there is a solution that can be implemented in the next three or four months. It has a downside, so you may think it is a bit of a Revolution. Our customers do not care where our office is located. Some of us do, especially those who have offices that look out over the park. Implementing the new initiatives requires hiring more people, and therefore renting more office space. There is a new building three blocks away that has enough space available, and at half the rent we currently pay. We need the space. We need the initiatives. We have to accept that we can’t look out over Strawberry Fields Forever.
[Closing the deal?]
Our customers have spoken. We can indeed afford to do what they want, if we make a small sacrifice. I am sure We Can Work It Out. So, before I open it up for questions, then Get Back to my day job organizing the bands for our parties, I just want to thank John, Paul and George for the collaboration and opportunity to work on this project. I hope it helps. And since I have used no slides for this presentation, I will take the liberty of sharing an animated drawing my brother has done of the four of us together. He took the liberty of asking your families to give him old photos. Thank you.”
Wow! Not only did they say yes. They said the four of us would make beautiful music together. For our customers, of course!