The term customer experience gets thrown around like confetti at a kid’s birthday party- it’s everywhere. The issue is that although the term is very common, its meaning is often unclear or misunderstood.
Customer experience is more than just showing your customers a good time. It’s about understanding the entire journey of your target customer/s, and finding ways to meet and exceed their expectations along this journey. Customer experience is the product of each and every point of contact between you and the customer, which is why this experience cannot be seen as a one-off, or one that only occurs in one "place". (Think online/offline/outside of your direct span of control etc)
If a customer knows that you can offer them an unparalleled experience your brand will not only retain current customers, but will "borrow" customers from your competition (Thanks for stating the obvious Sherlock Holmes). Taking the time to identify and address every step of a customer’s journey may seem like a lengthy, cumbersome process, but its value is undeniable. Currently, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience alone and this figure is only set to rise as more companies realise this value. Not to mention that the alternative of competing on price only benefits those with extremely large scale and tremendous volume. (We haven't forgotten about product/service differentiation - we can address this in a future article).
The Elements of Customer Experience
Like a cake needs the right ingredients, customer experience needs the right elements to make it work. These elements work together to address different facets of your customers experience, and their application is ideally one that is unique to your company/brand. Just some of these elements include:
Demonstrating that you are able to recognise and cater to the individual preferences of every customer to make them feel appreciated and understood.
Acting with honesty and integrity so that customers can place their trust in your brand and feel inclined to continue shopping with you.
Transforming what would otherwise be a routine, forgettable experience into a sensory, memorable one. This means paying attention to the details of the customer’s environment.
Ensuring the right tools and systems are in place to listen and act on customer feedback across all channels.
Appreciated customers are loyal customers, which is why going the extra mile to show your customers that you value them will make you stand out against competitors.
Making sure that customers aren’t left waiting and that systems are operating as efficiently as possible.
Putting the right technology/technologies in place is crucial to eliminating customer pain points and simplifying processes.
Whilst this list is not exhaustive, these elements demonstrate the different facets of customer experience that need to be targeted for this experience to be optimised. A balance needs to be achieved to avoid any elements being ignored or underutilised.
But How Does This Create Value?
One question you might still be asking is, ‘but can you really put a price on that?’
It turns out you most definitely can. Just one of the many examples of research in the market has found that when analysing customer spending habits with comparable companies over set periods, customers who had the best customer experience would spend 140% more compared to those who didn’t.
Another important point to remember is that unhappy customers are expensive. If a customer has a very negative customer experience, they will be more likely to require support for their complaint, more likely to return products, and more likely to spread negative word of mouth about your company. By investing money into the customer journey, your company will be able to reap the rewards of a positive customer-company relationship based on trust and loyalty.
It’s clear to see that investing in customer experience is no longer an option- it’s a necessity. Your customer experience reflects your brand, and for this reason it requires specific time and attention to ensure that this reflection is what you intend it to be. Customer experience is more than an idea. It’s a real and quantifiable process that creates mutual value for both the customer and the company’s bottom-line.