A great customer experience is about all of the little interactions and the ways in which that experience left you feeling.
Since COVID-19, digital services and touchpoints for customers have skyrocketed, causing customers to become increasingly interactive in the digital world.
Customers of all types have come to not only expect, but seek a positive customer experience that is highly personalized and convenient. Happy customers are more likely to become loyal customers, and the best marketing money can buy is a customer who promotes your company and advocates for your products or services.
Investing in customer experience, or “CX,” is a necessity if businesses wish to survive for long among stiff competition.
First things first: understanding what customer experience is.
What Is Customer Experience?
Customer experience is the impression and response your customers have to any direct or indirect contact with your company, and their perception of your brand throughout all aspects of their journey.
Direct contact generally occurs throughout the course of purchasing, use, and services. Indirect contact most often involves unplanned encounters like word-of-mouth recommendations or criticisms, advertising, and reviews about a company’s products, services, or brand.
The customer’s complete journey considers everything across both physical and digital touchpoints.
Customer experience results in the customer’s view and opinion of your company and impacts factors related to your bottom line, like revenue.
What Customers Expect From Brands
The relationship between customers and companies needs to be nurtured through every interaction, every touch point.
A 2022 Salesforce Research survey found that 88% of customers value the experience the company provides as important as its products and services.
Customer experience is now digitally driven. Customers expect flexibility and a thoughtful, personal touch. Empowered by choice and increasing control over their personal data, trust is of great importance.
Personalization has become a brand differentiator. Customers no longer want to settle for generic experiences and are aware of disconnects between their expectations and reality, wanting everything to resonate with their personal tastes.
The same survey dove into the growing number of customers looking for companies to value personalization and anticipate their needs. Some gathered customer expectations:
73 % of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and wants
62% of customers expect companies to anticipate their needs
62% of customers feel an emotional connection towards brands they buy from the most
A great customer experience includes customers’ rising expectations across those individual touchpoints, but customers increasingly expect all interactions throughout the journey to tie smoothly together.
- 83% of customers said they are more loyal to companies that provide consistency across all departments.
Having to repeat or re-explain information more than once to a different representative or department creates frustration and highlights the disconnect between departments in companies.
In 2022, it is estimated that the split between online and offline interactions that customers will have with brands is:
- 61% Online
- 39% Offline
Recognizing the importance of what customers are expecting when interacting digitally can help nurture that customer:company relationship.
Why Companies Are Lacking In CX
Poor customer experience seems all too familiar. Customer frustration can easily be derived by some of these common issues:
- Abandoning sites because they were too hard to navigate
- Simple tasks requiring too many steps
- Loading pages took too long
Even the smallest interactions are valuable, and a company’s mindset can make or break the customer experience.
Some examples of mindsets that hinder companies from delivering the best customer experience:
- Lacking understanding of customers’ needs and preferences
- Not focusing on obtaining the right information
- Fearing what the data may reveal
- Maintaining the status quo rather than taking action
Many companies that are lacking in customer experience don’t understand why they should be worrying about it. Others collect and quantify data on it, but they fail to circulate the findings or make anyone responsible for putting the information to use.
While a few companies have zeroed in on customer experience, others are only trying to measure customer satisfaction, but also don’t know how to achieve it.
CEOs and executives may not actively deny the significance of customer experience. However, just claiming to put the customers at the center of your business requires more than a tagline.
Customer-Centric Vs Company-Centric
Great customer experience starts with understanding customers and making investment. These investments in technology, processes, operations, and people are often made by companies in the name of their customers. However, when customer experience is poor, it is important to review whether the customer is truly at the center, or if it is actually the company stakeholders.
Even if business models are meant to improve the company’s customer experience, they are by design built from company-centric measures. As a result, investments based on evolving customer behaviors, expectations, and preferences never erupt change for the customer experience.
Companies then continue to make decisions from internal-viewed customer standards, veering further away from a great customer experience.
Why Is Customer Experience Worth Investing In?
Competitors are always looking to win over your customers. As products, services, and brands become commoditized, customers are more likely to differentiate based on experience.
Focusing on great customer experience will generate brand fans and make it increasingly difficult for them to be snatched away by competitors. Moreover, there is ample potential for customer referrals and community marketing.
The opportunity to turn customers into loyal brand fans and advocates in exchange for thoughtful customer experience is too great to pass up.
A remarkable customer experience is critical to the sustained growth of any business.
The Return On CX Investment
The companies focusing on customer experience will see long-term financial gains. Below is proof that you need to invest in optimizing customer experience:
- ⅔ of organizations are investing to better their customer experience, which is up from 36% in 2010 according to key findings from the Gartner Customer Experience Survey. In addition, 89% of companies consider customer experience to be the new competitive battlefield.
- Another survey found that 89% of companies see customer experience as a key factor in driving customer loyalty and retention. To expand on that, acquiring a new customer is 5x as expensive as retaining an existing customer. Companies can spend less time and resources going out and finding new clients, as long as you keep the clients you have happy.
- Research done by Frederick Reicheld of Bain & Company, the inventor of the net promoter score, shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Additional evidence towards the retention of customers being so valuable.
CX And The Employee Experience
Customer experience is locked with employee experience in an intricate relationship of dependency. Therefore, customer experience does not improve until employee experience becomes a top priority, with work processes and a culture to reflect that.
The result? The company becomes capable of reaching higher revenue growth.
Forbes Insights, in association with Salesforce, conducted research about more than just the link between customer experience and revenue, but how both customer experience and employee experience result in stronger revenue expansion.
89% of executives at revenue-growth leaders agree that better Employee Experience directly leads to better Customer Experience.
The research provides strong evidence that to drive expansion, a company should prioritize focus on employee experience because it propels customer experience, and that customer experience fuels revenue growth.
Focusing on employee experience has additional benefits for a company, beyond fast growth. Some include:
- Stronger employee and customer loyalty
- A workforce more open to transformation and technological change
- Closer alignment with company goals
When employees observe senior managers requesting experience data and using it to make decisions, their own decisions are conditioned by that awareness as it sets a strong example. It’s important for employees to know the importance of customer experience and how every function has a role to play.
The Necessity Of Focusing On CX
Customer dissatisfaction is widespread and, with stiff competition and customers’ empowerment, increasingly dangerous for companies. Although companies are knowledgeable on customers’ characteristics used to classify them, they know little about the thoughts and emotions that are induced by a company’s products, services, and brand.
Focusing on the customers in a thoughtful manner will result in a great customer experience. When your company starts working towards a great customer experience, revenue growth will follow.Because of this, fully understanding customer experience and why it is so important to invest in is essential for your company.
Where should you start when digitizing the customer experience? And how do you evolve?