The customer promise clarifies “What is great customer experience”: CX Mini Masterclass – E69

By January 30, 2020 No Comments
This CX Mini Masterclass defines the concept of the Customer Promise and explores why it’s important for organizations to define “What is Great Experience” in the context of their brand. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, dissects an example customer promise and shares tips on how to develop your own. If you’ve been looking for clarity on yet another popular CX buzzword and would like to learn about why it’s so important to create a customer promise in the first place, then this episode is for you.

Customer promise

Episode 67 covered how and why organizations should internally and externally market CX. This, of course, hinges upon having a clear definition of what experiences customers can expect and how teams should deliver these experiences. Most brands don’t cover this in the company vision, mission or values. All of those brand statements are important, and they should support customer-centricity, but they’re not the same as a customer promise.

A customer promise is a single statement outlining the experience that a brand intends to provide to its customers and prospective customers. It should be clear, simple and actionable, ideally no longer than one sentence. You could almost think of the customer promise as a vision or mission statement focused exclusively on the experience and how this is delivered.

Exploring an example

The car brand Hyundai has a great example of a customer promise statement for their service team.

At Hyundai, we put all our efforts to provide customers with the best after sales service.

This statement lets us know that Hyundai takes after sales service seriously, that they’re willing to put some muscle behind providing a great experience, and that customers can expect a best in class WOW experience, one that possibly competes with service experiences from different consumer categories all together.

This statement indicates to teams that the service experience is a major strategic priority. When they say “we put all our efforts”, this signals to Hyundai’s teams that everything they do should contribute to a journey-defining after sales service experience.

It should be noted that it’s not best practice to create a customer promise that is so specific to one aspect of the journey (in this case, after sales service). Hyundai could (and should) have just as easily made a customer promise that was applicable to the entire customer journey.

Supporting the promise with principles

If Hyundai’s example promise statement still feels a little vague to you, that’s OK. Remember it’s tough to be overly specific with a single sentence. A customer promise should be backed up by customer experience principles, which unpack the next layer of detail. Experience principles are the “how-to” details behind the customer promise, linking the vision to behaviors or outcomes. Hyundai has defined 8 of these:

  1. Listen carefully and actively follow up on your request

  2. Maintain a clean, safe and friendly environment
  3. Schedule an appointment that is convenient to you

  4. Attend to you promptly on arrival in a friendly and professional manner

  5. Provide you with an accurate time and cost estimate

  6. Obtain your authorization before commencing any additional work

  7. Thoroughly explain all repairs performed and review all costs

  8. Ensure the vehicle is returned at the time agreed in a clean and tidy condition

As you can see, the experience principles are where things can get a little bit more prescriptive, while still supporting the overarching customer promise. If you’re curious about how experience principles are put to use, guest expert Ben Motteram spoke about the role of experience principles in CX strategy during episode 29. I’d highly suggest that you check out that episode if you haven’t already.

The importance of defining “What is great customer experience” 

So why do we care about a customer promise? We could ask the same about a company purpose, vision or mission. The short answer is that organizations need a strategic Northstar when it comes to customer experience. Without this, teams can and will action customer experience in terms of their own individual interpretation, which nearly always leads to teams driving their efforts in disparate directions.

If your organization hasn’t established a customer promise, it’s almost guaranteed that teams will be chasing different CX targets. When it comes to rallying teams around a cohesive customer experience, it should come as no surprise that a shared understanding of “what is great experience” is a crucial place to start.

Want to keep learning about CX?

If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including CX strategy and culture change) or get in touch via email

Julia Ahlfeldt

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