As a marketer, you probably live by this mantra: happy customers remain loyal! You are constantly keeping tabs on your target demographic, you have established your connections, and you make sure they’re satisfied with your product or service. If you check all those boxes, you can almost guarantee your customers are loyal, right?
Unfortunately, the gap between what customers expect and what brands actually deliver continues to widen. Even if your business has outstanding customer service, your reputation and success depend on treating customers as individuals and offering them experiences to match their expectations. This is where customer experience comes in!
Customer Experience vs. Customer Service
We’re sure you’re familiar with customer service, which is primarily the advice or assistance a company gives its customers when they seek out your help. Customer service is focused on human interaction and directly supporting customers in their time of need. If a customer has an issue with a product or service, that is typically the only time they would contact customer service. You can think of customer service as an integral aspect of customer experience…so what exactly is customer experience?
Customer experience (or CX) is the sum of all contact between a business and a customer. It starts when a potential customer first discovers and researches a product and continues when they complete the purchase, use the product, and follow up with the brand afterwards. CX involves all the ways your business interacts with a customer – from how the customer uses your product or service, their use of self-service support options, the feeling of walking into your retail store, customer service interactions, and more.
CX evaluates how customers feel about a company by measuring the emotional, physical, and psychological connection customers have with a brand. It isn’t a one-off interaction – it includes the entire customer lifecycle and every touchpoint a customer has with a product or service.
Steps for Creating a Great CX
These days, customers generally hold high expectations of what they want out of a brand. Basically, customers expect to ALWAYS have the greatest experience EVER! It may seem like a lot to ask, but if you don’t meet your customers’ expectations, your competitors will. Now the question is – how can your organization create a great customer experience?
- Determine Your Principles: You can’t expect to impress your customers when your company doesn’t have a clear, customer-focused vision. The simplest way to do this is to create a set of principles that will guide your company’s mission. For example, Amazon, a company that’s done a pretty decent job of impressing customers, lives by this statement: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”
- Connect with Customers: Whether you communicate with customers in person or online, the same advice applies – be helpful, and be friendly! Take the time to ask customers about their day, how you can go above their expectations, and what you can do to keep their business. In this fast-paced world, people appreciate being treated as an individual and not another “complainer.”
- Immediately Capture Customer Feedback: You’ve succeeded in helping out a happy customer, so now is the time to pounce! There’s no better chance to capture a glowing review than the brief moment after you’ve assisted a customer. You can gather feedback online, on a live chat, via email, on the phone, or even in-person. Whatever you do, get the review!
- Train Your Team: Now that you have a specific customer experience plan, it’s essential that your team sticks to protocol. You don’t want someone straying off the plan when dealing with an especially difficult customer (and you know that will occur somewhere along the line.) Many organizations assess the quality of phone and email communication; however, you can take this further by scheduling and tracking your team’s development through coaching, eLearning and group training.
- Measure Your ROI: You’ve gone the extra mile to create great CX, but how do you know it’s working? This is when you study your ROI to see if your efforts are paying off. If you think all of this sounds like a lot of work, just remember that maintaining a competitive edge will mean delivering on CX, investing in improvements and technologies to meet the needs of customers, understanding what individuals want, and consistently putting insight into action across connected touch points. All of these aspects will set you apart from your competitors…and your customers will remember that!
CX Fast Facts:
- Research by American Express found that 60% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
- 84% of organizations working to improve CX report an increase in revenue
- 90% of customers saying they have had poor experience seeking customer support on mobile
- Improved experience can grow revenue by 5 to 10%—and cost 15 to 20% less over a span of three years.
Here is a great infographic that shows why customer experience is SO important!