“Customer Experience Can Make or Break Your Business” | Gustavo Imhof

9 Mar 2023

5 min read

What exactly is customer experience? What does it mean to implement it (successfully, obviously) and what are the most common mistakes companies make while trying to jump on the CX wagon? To find out the answers to these questions, we looked for a suitable guest to speak to on our podcast: the eCommerce Customer Experience. It’s exciting because this is actually the very issue that we built our podcast around!

We spoke to Gustavo Imhof, the Head of Customer Experience, Strategy, and Insights at AVADO who has spent years on the matter of CX and has written books on it.

As an Ecommerce business there is no doubt that every aspect of your operations impact the customer experience, from advertising and packaging to product functionality, website usability, and even reliability. It's therefore crucial to prioritise customer satisfaction and provide the best possible experience for your buyers. 

In this episode we explored the importance of balancing customer satisfaction with commercial savvy to create a sustainable business. Gustavo believes in merging the needs of the organisation with those of the customer to find a balance that appeals to both parties. Gustavo shared his journey into customer experience, which started with his master's thesis on the financial ROI of Customer Experience in the automotive industry. He describes himself as a "marriage counsellor walking on the sidewalk," trying to find the equilibrium that appeals to both the organisation and the customer. He loves working in complex environments where he can measure the experience, map processes, and design better, more memorable experiences that drive better results for the organisation and its customers.

Customer experience is a balancing act

During our chat, he emphasised the importance of being data-driven but also keeping in mind that the customer is not the only and the most important stakeholder in a business. While it is important to prioritise them, an unbridled focus on the customer can be detrimental to the business in the long run. Companies must find a way to balance the needs of different stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, and suppliers, while ensuring that they deliver on their promise to customers.

We have all heard of the term: go above and beyond for the customer! Well, according to Gustavo, this is actually one of the most common mistakes that companies make. Trying to exceed customer expectations at all costs may lead to short-term gains, but it definitely is not sustainable in the long run.

Once a company exceeds a customer's expectations, the customer adjusts their expectations accordingly, and the company must continue to exceed those expectations to keep the customer satisfied. “And the problem with that is that it's not sustainable because every time you exceed the expectation, you're eating into your margin. You're eating into your margin, and you can turn a very profitable endeavour into loss making because you're just so concentrated on exceeding expectations.” 

Do you see where this is going? This unhealthy cycle can lead to a situation where the company is constantly eating into its margins, and it becomes difficult to turn a profit. 

Ok, so how do organisations really create a well-rounded picture that ultimately can help in the longer term as well? “It's not about going above and beyond, but it's how do you help the customer get to where they need to be without being overly generous? Because that doesn't help the customer either. So, it's having that responsibility and ownership more than going above and beyond,” according to Gustavo.

Understand what win-win is

Another mistake that companies make is compensating customers without a longer-term value in mind. While it is great to give customers refunds or freebies, companies must have a plan for how these actions will create value in the long run. Compensation should not be given for the sake of compensation but should be part of a larger strategy that creates value for the company and the customer.

As you see, creating a customer-centric strategy requires balancing the needs of different stakeholders. It is important to empower employees to deliver a great customer experience, but they must also understand the commercial realities of the business. One way to do this is to reframe the customer experience in a way that emphasises the positive impact it can have on the customer's life. This can help employees understand the importance of their work and make them more committed to delivering a great customer experience.

Go back to basics and cut out easy mistakes

To truly understand what the customer wants, it's essential to speak to the front line, listen in on calls, or even better, reach out to customers in-person. Running surveys and getting feedback from customers is also a good way of gathering data. The importance of getting executives involved in the customer experience was highlighted during our chat, with an example from Hermes where they sent customised gingerbread men to senior leaders. This gave them a firsthand experience of what it's like to be a customer and understand the impact it can have.

This episode was also a blend of cultures, as Gustavo who is a native to Brazilian culture gave good comparisons regarding customer experience, with an example: “if you go to a shop, let's say you want a new suit and you don't know what to expect, you almost feel harassed by how helpful they are. Like they're really dedicated to help you find the right thing and they're really hands on and really supportive to an extent where the typical British culture wouldn't necessarily accept it. It would almost be intrusive.”

Wherever a company operates, we think the key takeaway is that it's crucial to understand what the customer wants and adapt to their needs and expectations to create a great customer experience.

If DigitalGenius has piqued your interest and if you think your organisation can massively benefit from ecommerce customer service automation, get in touch with our team today.