Recently, Coinstar was featured in a New York Times article for strengthening its customer experience. Coinstar operates coin-counting machines in supermarkets, local banks, check cashing service centers, and other locations. It is widely known that users of the Coinstar machines can exchange their collection of coins for cash, however, the 9.8% fee often comes as a surprise to new users. Another surprise is the option that users have is to select a gift card for the full value of the coins in order to bypass the 9.8% fee. Coinstar has had no-fee gift certificates available for the past 5 years but never advertised this until recently. They have partnered with retailers such as Starbucks, Gap, and Amazon.com to provide the fee free gift cards. Recently iTunes, Borders, and Regal Cinemas went beyond bearing the fee and offered gift cards that were worth more than the actual coin exchange. For example, they proposed $50 gift cards for a minimum of $40 worth of coins. Coinstar began advertising the fee free gift card option late last year with print ads in such publications as People and New York Times. Advertising the fee free option may increase the volume of transactions Coinstar receives by appealing to those who are averse to the fees.
In another effort to provide a greater customer experience, Coinstar has pilot programs at Albertsons and Stop & Shop supermarket chains offering no fee gift cards for the very store in which the consumer shops and engages with the Coinstar machine. This customer experience works out well for both Coinstar and the participating supermarket, and is a really smart way to engage consumers where you know they are already spending money.
Customer experience is a priority not only for retailers, but also for the service, travel & hospitality, and entertainment industries among others. The Tekman Group conducted a recent study of customer experience professionals and found that 84% of them feel customer experience will become more important in 2011. These days, companies that simply offer low prices or club discount / frequency cards are not going to reap the loyalty benefits desired if customers are not satisfied with the in-store/online experience. According to a recent study by Harris Interactive (Customer Experience Impact Report), 86% percent of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, and 60% say they often or always pay more for a better customer experience. This is important for marketers to make note of, as with all the competition in the marketplace, it has become much more difficult to attain customer loyalty. Not only do customers make a statement with their capital, but they also “put their mouth where their money is/is not“. Harris Interactive found that 55% of consumers recommend a company because of its customer service and 79% that had a negative experience with a company told others about it via Word of Mouth.
So what makes a great customer experience? This is a difficult question to answer, as this will vary across industries, but there are a few things marketers should make sure they incorporate to provide a pleasant experience. First, consumers want to be able to make quick, informed decisions and expect to speak with knowledgeable and responsive sales staff whether in-store, online, or on the phone. Second, consumers expect to be able to interact via several channels and at their convenience to have any issues resolved. Most consumers prefer speaking to a live agent, live chat, or email. Third, speaking as a consumer, a clean and neat environment is extremely important. If a supermarket, salon, retail store, airport terminal, etc. is not clean, neat and relaxing, why would anyone return? Even if the company offered lower prices, as the Harris Interactive study found, most consumers prefer to pay more somewhere else for a better customer experience.Share