“Customer experience” is one of those phrases we often hear and use, especially in the past few years. But what is customer experience exactly and why should we take care not to ignore it?
Put simply, customer experience is the impression you leave on your customers, which results in the way they perceive your products, services and your entire brand.
According to 4 out of 5 participants in Gartner’s survey on customer experience in marketing, customer experience will be the key that will bring companies an advantage over the competition in the future, not the price or product features. What’s troubling is the fact that as many as 80% of the participating companies believe that they “generally” or “always” achieve results that lead to profitability and customer satisfaction, while at the same time only half of users agree.
Up until now, marketing departments have usually looked at customer experience only from the perspective of the campaign they were currently working on. Many still do. But this way of thinking about this essential business aspect brings with it a number of constraints and leads to campaigns that are unconnected, inconsistent, and bring no understand of a larger picture of client relationships, since they only show isolated events and interactions. This approach prevents a quality overview of overall customer experience and results in campaigns that take up a lot of resources, but yield little to no response and conversions.
How do you create a customer experience that clients will appreciate?
Customer experience is a journey that all of your clients are on, regardless of whether they are talking to a salesperson, browsing your website, using your products or are currently on any different stop on your shared journey. In a perfect world, these interactions create a cohesive and consistent experience that confirm your brand identity – but creating a cohesive company identity is more difficult than it may seem.
Your company’s best chance for success is aligning your priorities with those of your clients. Only when a company aligns its perspective with the needs of its clients can it creative a high-quality customer experience. The challenge lies in the fact that clients are now fluid and move fast between a series of channels, devices and contexts, at different stages of interaction with your business, so their customer journey is never simple. This is exactly why it’s important to look at the customer experience from their perspective, to identify the particular moments you need to influence to achieve a competitive advantage.
How do you do this? Through research and analyzing existing data.. You shouldn’t ignore the power of the data you already have, or should have. If you use a quality CRM solution, you already have at your disposal the exact points of interaction of your clients with your business. Such research and analysis of existing customer experience is what will become a powerful base of an initiative that can unite various departments within the company.
Sales, marketing and customer support departments often agree that a good customer experience is immensely important, but the problem is that each department has different approaches to that experience, depending on how they define and segment clients. The customer support department measures success by resolution time, the sales department by the number of closed sales, while marketing measures success in numbers of those interesting in a certain newsletter or event. All of these approaches are valid, but incomplete, because they focus on what, not why.
By researching the journey a customer goes through, the visions of various department will align to a perspective in which clients are the most important aspect. This way, the efforts of each department will fit into a unified whole and each department will discover opportunities that they can take advantage of. Looking at these opportunities through the prism of the entire company, it is much easier to develop new services and offer better products.
What are the benefits of a client-centric approach?
It’s more expensive to find new clients, than it is to keep existing ones..
We all know this, but often forget. Many invest enormous amounts of time and experience to attract new potential clients and contacts. However, it’s five times more expensive to find new clients than it is to keep existing ones. By providing a quality customer experience, companies can gain the trust and loyalty of each existing clients, and turn them into someone who will definitely return to the company’s products and services..
An optimized customer experience enhances customer satisfaction.
Optimizing each step of the customer experience can lead to more satisfied customers, higher revenue and reduced customer support costs. But it isn’t enough to pay attention to each step of the process individually – the customer journey should be viewed as a whole. When you focus on the entire customer journey, it’s easier to achieve a unified and consistent customer experience. And when customer experience is positive and clients are satisfied, it’s easier to build strong business relationships.
Satisfied clients are the best advertisement.
Satisfied clients are the best source of referrals. They have already used your products or services and know how you do business, so if they’re still buying from you, they are obviously satisfied with the experience you provide. There are many studies on how trusting people are towards the recommendations of friends and trusted associates. Today, it’s easy to share your dissatisfaction on social media, but if you work on trying to keep your customers happy, you’ll easily build your company’s credibility.
A quality strategy creates a competitive advantage.
We’ve already mentioned the Gartner study that says that by 2020, customer experience will be more crucial in relation to competition than the products themselves or their price. Today’s digital work has shifted the focus from the company to the client, which brings with it a change in priorities. No matter what industry your company is in, there will always be competitors with lower prices. What companies can do to stand out from the competition is their perceived value. This perceived value can be greatly influenced by a quality customer experience strategy.
And in the end…
Considering problems from a client perspective and creating a good customer experience from what you perceive is a much needed shift in thinking. So how come not all business make this shift? Some companies assume in advance that they know their customers well. Other companies are put off by thinking such an approach is too complex. But retaining a focus on customer experience can help you achieve meaningful, measurable business progress. In the end, isn’t that exactly what we all strive towards?