Every brand’s goal is to deliver a positive customer experience, but what is it that makes a customer feel valued, listened to, and appreciated? How do brands build the kind of loyalty that comes from delivering a great experience? Providing the experience customers want is essential to business success, and there are six currencies in which experience is delivered.

Time

“Time is money.” This phrase may be as old as time, but it still holds true. Time is precious – it’s one of our most valuable forms of currency. None of us has enough time; we are busier than ever. When it comes to making customers feel valued and understood, saving them time – and not wasting their time – are both critical. The waste of customer’s time runs the gamut from small infractions like keeping us on hold for more than a minute to our doctors keeping us waiting for an hour past our appointment time. We demonstrate no respect for their time when we fail to resolve our customers’ problems, putting them through an endless bureaucratic loop when we make a mistake. Solutions also range from small and simple changes to a revamp of the entire customer service experience. From offering user-friendly and intuitive online resources that save customers time, to empowering customer service teams to fix problems on the first call, companies need to appreciate the value of their customer’s time and to act accordingly.

Talent

It is people who provide the backbone for everything we do – including providing a great customer experience. Knowing what service is and empowering our people to deliver a great customer experience to every customer every time is how we build our reputations and market shares. We do this by hiring and training people who understand and appreciate the value of service.

Trust

How we conduct ourselves and our businesses must come from a place of integrity and honesty to build trust. Joel Peterson says trust is something you can’t afford to lose. In Peterson’s book, The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds that Make a Business Great, his steps for building trust include starting with integrity, investing in respect, empowering everyone, assuming the best, requiring accountability, creating a winning vision, keeping everyone informed, budgeting in line with expectations, embracing conflict, and forgetting “you” to become an effective leader. We need to treat customers with respect. Nine times out of 10, our customers are victims of company incompetence, not abusers of the system. Punishing all customers for the behaviors of a few is bad for business. Harry Gordon Selfridge coined the term “The customer is always right” in 1909. It’s still a good rule of thumb today.

Taste

Pleasing our senses – from the food we eat to the styles we choose to the atmosphere in the stores we visit – leaves a lingering taste of the brand in our hearts and minds. Taste is not just for food products – it’s about how our products and services are designed, constructed, packaged and presented. People can perceive how much taste has gone into something. We can see and taste the difference when something is made by people who care about their brands and customers. That difference comes through in everything from the quality of the ingredients used and the aesthetics of the packaging through the experience of using the product. Steve Jobs changed the face of the computer industry by being obsessed with quality and the look of everything, including the parts we couldn’t see.

Technology

As a currency, technology is undeniable, providing the backbone upon which speed, convenience, and innovation are built. From apps and websites that provide 24/7 access to what our customers want to solutions that keep everything running smoothly, technology is a powerful tool to deliver a better experience. It’s how the world stays connected.

Trends

Being in the know – knowing what customers want and more will want – and providing beneficial solutions – is essential. It shows we understand our customers and the world and provide solutions to real problems. How do we discover emerging trends and know what our customers want? Be out in the world observing, listening, and making connections.

To deliver an experience to our customers that communicates we value them, we need to know and employ the currencies in which experience is traded. It’s not just the moment of transaction that matters; it’s how we interact with the world.