Did you know your customers are willing to spend a price premium of up to 16% for a better experience with your company?
We live in an age of customer experience (CX), which is causing a significant shift in the customer decision making process.
Decisions are no longer based on a product or it’s cost, but how a customer perceives their experiences with the company.
Why is great customer experience important?
Customer experience determines whether your company succeeds or fails.
Poor customer experience will cost your company due to avoidable churn. Today’s customers expect a personalised experience that always meets their needs.
If they don’t receive it, they’ll most likely move on to another brand. However, if a company consistently meets or exceeds expectations, customers will stick around. They might even view that company as being irreplaceable, and being irreplaceable helps your bottom line.
Delivering great customer experiences is no longer an option. Businesses need to meet or exceed the expectations of their customers during all interactions with them, which means your customers are now connected and engaged with you through more digital channels than ever before.
What is channel fragmentation?
Marketers used to be able to rely on specific mediums to reach customers: TV, radio, and print.
As the internet evolved, soon there was another way to reach customers. Enter social media, and suddenly nothing looks like it once did.
This is what’s meant by channel fragmentation – there are so many mediums, platforms, and channels on which to message customers, that it can be difficult to know which is best for each customer.
Also, keep in mind that channels which are commonly grouped together under a single banner, like social, consist of a multitude of different platforms – but these channels all come with their own opportunities and rules of engagement.
Why brands struggle to deliver great customer experiences
Every customer has their own preferred channel. This can depend on age, activity, location, and what they are looking to achieve, but there’s an element of personal preference and urgency which means it’s never completely predictable.
Most companies struggle to meet the expectations of their customers because customer experience is defined by perception, which is often based on emotion and differs from person to person.
Two customers can view the same experience in completely different ways due to many factors that influence their interpretation of events.
It’s no longer just a case of finding the best channel for your brand – but the one that’s best for the customer, at the moment they want to connect. This is a huge challenge: but once you understand this, the solution to delivering great CX is simple.
Focus on building long-term customer relationships.
This means building trust with your customer, understanding their needs, and adapting to nurture that bond. Brands can achieve this with the right customer experience tools and insight that allow you to map, streamline and automate the personal touch that customers want at scale.
What is a great customer experience?
A good customer experience is one that makes it easy for a customer to do business with you.
A positive customer experience might include:
- Marketing setting realistic expectations about the product or service
- Intuitive product design
- Easy-to-access self-help resources
- Proactive messaging around known issues
- Sales being transparent about pricing
- Always-available live customer support with short waits
The tricky part about customer experience is that the consumer does not experience their relationship with your company as a series of smaller interactions, but rather will remember it as one ongoing interaction.
This can create problems for organizations in which various departments are siloed and do not communicate in between each other. Silos can result in customers having to repeat information, fill out forms multiple times, or just a customer journey that drags on longer than needed.
Being aware of customer experience from an end-to-end viewpoint and making sure customers’ needs are at the center of attention every step of the way is key for creating a good customer experience.
What is a customer experience strategy?
If customer experience refers to the sum of every interaction a customer has with a business, both pre- and post-sale, the customer experience strategy defines the actionable plans in place to deliver a positive, meaningful experience across those interactions.
The goal of strategy is to increase customer satisfaction, company advocacy, and customer loyalty, all while cutting costs.
Although customer experience strategy may vary by industry and a business’s particular goals, there are four elements that are not negotiable:
- Understanding the voice of your customer
- Creating a Customer Journey Map
- Stakeholder collaboration
- Employee experience
Understanding the voice of your customer
Your customer’s voice should be the heartbeat of any customer experience strategy. It captures, analyses, and reports on all feedback associated with your brand.
Basically, it gives you real-time insight into your customers’ experiences. From this feedback, you can identify trends and opportunities to act on that will help you deliver great customer experiences.
Customer feedback can be captured via structured and unstructured data. Structured data is collected via customer loyalty metrics that are measured via customer experience surveys. Whereas unstructured data includes feedback from other channels like social media or a phone call between a disgruntled customer and a customer support agent. It’s important to create listening paths that tap into unstructured feedback.
Ideally, all of this customer insight should be centralised into a dashboard, accessible to all employees. That way you’re supporting the cross-functional alignment of your CX strategy.
Creating a customer journey map
A customer journey map summarises the key interactions that a customer experiences with your brand.
This map will help you align your experience strategy across your company and identify areas of improvement across all touchpoints.
According to McKinsey & Company, a well-designed customer journey map has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20%, lift revenue by up to 15%, and lower the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.
When engaging with brands, customers expect an effortless transition from one touchpoint to another, whether it be digital channels, in-person, or both. They expect to accomplish what they need in the most convenient way for them, regardless of the channel or device they chose to use.
Customer journey mapping enables companies to identify the weaknesses and opportunities in these key touchpoints in order to deliver a seamless customer experience.
Regardless of your company size, there must be a cross-functional group of leaders assigned the task to ensure your CX strategy is implemented properly.
In order to be successful, this coalition should represent every major customer experience touchpoint across the customer journey, like department heads, business unit heads, and other leaders deemed essential to successful outcomes.
These are the leaders that believe in the CX strategy and will advocate for it. They also track, prioritise, and approve customer experience improvement plans provided by various teams and stakeholders.
Create a culture that cares about customer experience
To keep up with evolving customer expectations, companies must keep a steady pulse on the voice of the customer across all touchpoints. In doing so, they’ll maximize customer loyalty and improve the bottom line.
The reality is that most companies are lucky to have a designated customer experience leader, let alone a CX team, which is why it’s key that every team member in each department spends their limited time actually taking action toward improving the experience.
Intentional action can only happen if there is a culture that cares about the customer experience. You can cultivate this by ensuring that each team member understands the critical role they play within the customer journey; help them see how their strategic actions influence the success of their department and of the entire company.
It may not seem sexy, but consistency is the secret ingredient to making customers happy.
Reaching customers on the right channel at the right time delivers superior digital engagement, boosts open and conversion rates, and reduces overall notification costs. And, of course, helps to improve that all-important customer experience.