Customer experience has been on a tear, with business owners and executives reporting in multiple studies that it’s a top priority.
In fact, research from our friends at Walker suggests that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price as the most important criteria among B2B buyers.
Now, new data from Yelp shows that the customer experience differentiator also is in full effect among restaurants, the most widespread of all the B2C vertical markets.
Yelp analyzed thousands and thousands of restaurant reviews and discovered that for every 5-star review that mentioned “great taste” or similar, thirteen 5-star reviews mentioned “customer service” or similar.
This is fascinating and confirms what Daniel Lemin and I wrote about in Talk Triggers. Simply put, competency doesn’t create conversation.
A review is online word of mouth, and word of mouth rarely occurs when you deliver what your customers’ expect. We anticipate restaurant food to taste good, so when it does, that rarely spurs the patron to take the time to leave a review and confirm that presumption.
Conversely, when a diner (or any buyer in any industry) encounters an excellent customer experience, they are much more likely to tell that tale — online or offline — because they do not expect and anticipate excellence of that type.
If you’re a restaurant, great food is table stakes. The same is true for you, regardless of your business category. Doing whatever it is you do well is NOT REMARKABLE. Why do consumers not leave 5-star reviews of electric utilities when they successfully flip on a light switch? Because “switch = light” is Minimum Viable Delivery. It’s giving the customer what she’s been trained to anticipate and nothing more.
Unexpected Customer Experiences Create Word of Mouth
Yelp filtered the data along a different dimension and discovered that more than 75% of all reviews that mentioned “customer service” in any way were 5-star reviews. This means that unexpectedly good customer experience yields positive word of mouth far more often than unexpectedly bad experiences yield negative word of mouth.
For further mathematical evidence, note that reviews that mention “customer service” are 15 times more likely to be five-star rather than one-star.
I am not suggesting businesses shouldn’t pay attention to competency. Delivering your core product or service appropriately is a requirement to reduce customer churn. But to create word of mouth and turn your customers into volunteer marketers, you simply must prioritize customer experience. More specifically, exceeding expectations in one or more ways that spur word of mouth, either face-to-face or online via reviews, or social media.
Customer experience is not only about removing friction and minimizing mistakes and calamities but also about delivering something the customer didn’t see coming.