The term “customer experience” (CX) has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years. Many companies are wishing to make it an integral part of the way they run their business. However when it comes to understanding what “real” customer experience is, market professionals tend to miss the mark. This article allows you to understand the real meaning of CX, understand the ways to create a CX strategy and the key factors to be considered while creating these strategies. Finally, you will also be offered a few tips for a holistic understanding of the concept.
What Is Customer Experience?
Harvard Business Review defines customer experience (CX) as:
“… The subjective response customers have to direct or indirect contact with a company. It encompasses every aspect of an offering: customer care, advertising, packaging, features, ease of use, reliability. Customer experience is shaped by customers’ expectations, which largely reflect previous experiences.”
Customer experience, or CX, is your customers’ overall impression of their interaction with your company or brand. CX is the sum of a customer’s interactions with your company, from surfing the website to speaking with customer service to receiving the product or service they purchased.
Everything you do has an influence on your customers’ perceptions and their decision to return or not, therefore providing a positive customer experience is critical to your success.
Why Do You Need To Focus On Customer Experience?
When it comes to highly saturated markets, product differentiation based on attributes and essential benefits are no more an option to gain a competitive advantage. Many researchers and practitioners felt that the next step to do so was through creating good relationships between the business and its customers.
However, according to the University of Wales Swansea (2010), for almost every company in the market, regardless of what products or services they were selling, the process or the activities of building a good relationship with their clients or buyers was more or less the same. As a result, even relationships became generic and only added to the market saturation.
Under such circumstances, customer experience is being considered the next stage of gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage in different sectors of businesses. Even from the perspective of the customers themselves, ‘good experience’ has truly become worth spending money for. American Express’ research showed that over 86% of customers are willing to pay more money if they were going to receive a better experience.
Customer Experience, therefore, is a powerful binding agent that brings together the service quality, relationships with the customers and the impact of the brands. There have been proven statistics on the retention capacity of good CX, even in some of the most challenging fields such as insurance.
Customer Service Vs Customer Experience
When a company agrees to provide a service to a particular customer that can be another company (in B2B cases) or an individual (in B2C cases), it works towards fulfilling a certain work.
For instance, a shopkeeper who sells socks to individual customers will ask you for the requirements you have like your colour of preference, the length of the socks you need, or whether you need to for a formal event or a sporting event. Based on your answers, he will sell you a pair of socks and that’s where he has completed his service. While he did make the sale, it is nothing new or special about it. Almost all of his competitors take their customers exactly through the same process every single time.
In order to set himself apart from his rivals, the sock vendor must focus on how the customer felt about purchasing the pair, were they comfortable, what kind of feedback did they give and did it solve their purpose?
Customer service is, therefore, a part of customer experience. There are multiple touchpoints within the journey of CX and customer service is simply one of them.
Customer Experience Strategy: 7 Steps To Better CX
Clear CX Vision
Create a set of principles that will dictate the behaviour of your organisation and its employees. This is the first step towards successful CX and establishes the base for your company’s future.
Know Your Customers
More often than not, organisations don’t take the time to truly understand their customers as they are clouded by their preconceived notions about the kind of people who would buy their products or services. Such notions dominate the company’s response towards the people who are interested in doing business with them and if those responses turn out to be unwarranted, it can lead to “bad CX” and potentially the loss of a long-time business relationship.
Focus On Customers’ Emotions
The role of emotions has been highly valued by the veterans of customer experience for decades. A single action taken by you or your company can have drastically opposing reactions from two different customers based on their emotional predispositions. So remember, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’.
Don’t Overlook Feedback
Most companies tend to through the feedback form in the bin as soon as their customers make a purchase and walk out of the metaphorical store. However, feedback can be a great help when comparing the process the company has made in improving their CX over a certain period of time, for instance.
Customer feedback will also allow you to explore the various weaknesses in terms of quality of service within your organisation and the areas where each of your employees can improve through specialised training. Such actions also add to your company’s employee experience.
Act On Employee Feedback
Building a good customer experience is a two-way street and while the people who are paying for your services are important, so are the people who are delivering these services to them – your employees. On the basis of the feedback that you gather from your workers, taking effective actions accordingly is an absolute must.
Measure Return On Investment Through CX
At the end of the day, whatever steps you are taking towards the betterment of your CX, you would want to know the kind of effect it is having on your business result. Therefore, measuring your CX accurately becomes the final part of strategy formation.
How To Measure Customer Experience?
Assessing CX is something that may be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to do through quantitative research. Since the factors involved in the process include units such as emotions, preferences and thoughts processes that are qualitative in nature, measuring CX has to be split into three stages:
Step 1: Measure Entire Customer Journey
As mentioned earlier, CX is a combination of all the processes a customer goes through while interacting with your business. Therefore, in order to get the most accurate results, the entire customer journey must be considered a single unit. It is also important to determine the measuring metrics.
There are three types of metrics that are commonly used to measure experience:
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS measures how “likely” is a customer to recommend a brand or product to the family or known ones.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
CES measures the amount of effort the customer must put in order to meet their goals.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
CSAT shows how happy the customer is with their experience of a single interaction with the company or their overall journey.
Decide which of these three metrics will be the most effective for your company to measure your CX journey.
Step 2: Combine Selected Metric With Purchase Journey
In B2B industries, the general purchase journey generally consists of six stages around which you must align the chosen metric:
Awareness of Need
The potential customer realises that they have a need for your product.
The customer looks into your company and your competitors who work in a similar industry to look for the most efficient option to fulfil their need.
Committing To Change
After narrowing down the number of options, the customer once again dives into deeper research about your product as the intention to make the change is stronger.
After researching thoroughly, the customer decides to go ahead with your product.
This is where the senior management at the customer’s firm get involved to give the final ‘go, no go’.
This is where price negotiations take place, the paperwork is established and the final transaction happens.
Step 3: Define Independent Touchpoint Metrics
From the website to exchanging emails, the abovementioned ‘purchase journey’ of a customer goes through a series of touchpoints. There may also be certain situations where a specific customer doesn’t go through one or two of the touchpoints due to unique circumstances (for instance, they are in a hurry and don’t have the time to investigate options, therefore they go ahead with the first company they see).
Check whether all the touchpoints are working towards making the customers happy or taking away from their chances of feeling satisfied.
We Can Help You Enhance Your Customer Experience
For the last decade, Bright Horse has been at the forefront of the ‘Experience’ Movement, travelling the length and breadth of the UK to meet our customers, listen to their experience needs, and advise them on how to create an effective and enduring Customer Experience Journey.
Our expert consultants can assist you if you are an internal organisation or an external service provider in need of hands-on, real-world, practical guidance and support to begin or complete your CX journey.
Let’s work together to achieve something extraordinary.