What is “Customer Experience” and How Do Successful Companies Deliver Against Today’s Expectations?
Products and services have been reduced to a commodity in most industries, in which traditional differentiators such as price and features are no longer the dominant driver of consumer decision-making. Customer Experience has now taken center stage as the holistic approach to creating and managing customer satisfaction.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience, or CX, is defined as the cumulative experiences a consumer has with a brand over the lifetime of that relationship. This broadly covers every touchpoint a customer has with an organization in every phase of the relationship, across every medium. This still includes in-person and over-the-phone interactions of course, but has expanded across all digital mediums on social media and other web outlets.
Delivering a successful Customer Experience also extends well beyond simply providing a product or service that meets the needs and expectations of a customer. Friendly and knowledgeable staff are still an integral part of the equation, but today CX is being defined by how people’s senses are excited and the level of emotional connection they have with a brand.
Why is Customer Experience critical to sustainable success?
Since Customer Experience takes place in all phases of a customer relationship and at every point they have contact with an organization, the customer journey includes an infinite number of opportunities to either succeed or fail in the eyes of the consumer. If an organization takes too narrow of a view of what defines CX, they run the risk of missing critical touchpoints that establish greater brand value, further reinforce the customer’s purchase decision and drive greater customer retention.
Customer Experience is also a significant driver of customer retention.
Not only do effective CX strategies reduce customer attrition, but they also impact lifetime customer value. A well-rounded approach to Customer Experience connects the consumer to a product or service on an emotional level and establishes a personal investment. This greatly improves brand loyalty and will transform customers into advocates who will strongly recommend and defend your brand.
How do successful companies exceed Customer Experience expectations?
In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, meeting customer expectations is more difficult than ever. The most successful customer-centric companies develop their experience strategies with the end in mind. This involves designing every aspect of every touchpoint in concert with a comprehensive strategy. Regardless of channel and no matter where a customer interacts, the experience must resonate and “feel” the same to them. Here are three common characteristics of great Customer Experience organizations.
A focus on quality and connecting with the customer, not speed.
Unfortunately, most companies continue to use speed as one of their primary Key Performance Indicators (KPI). While customers want issues to be resolved in a timely manner, they also want to feel they are getting quality care. Companies have found great success measuring total call time rather than time per call. Zappos for example uses call center technology to track average call time per agent. The focus of this KPI is to not reduce the call time average, but rather to empower their agents to promote greater customer loyalty. Whether in the form of one call or 100, agents are expected to spend at least 80% of their time interacting with customers. By removing time per call, Zappos’ agents are focused on getting service right on the first call and establishing an emotional connection with the customer.
A consistent Customer Experience integrated across all channels.
Apple may be an overused example, but that’s only because it is a benchmark of a company that creates a consistent Customer Experience across their entire ecosystem. Every print ad, billboard, TV commercial, website, and product packaging has the same feel and generates a consistent emotion. Their retail locations reflect it and their employees live and breathe it across the entire customer journey. This does not happen by accident. Great CX is a result of great design, consistent execution and improvement, and most critical, successful delivery of your customer promise across all channels.
They listen to their customers.
This may seem like a simplistic tactic, but unfortunately many companies fail to listen to their customers. As a result, they don’t understand their needs and unknowingly deliver a Customer Experience that falls short of expectations. Whether through traditional customer feedback methods such as customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups or through contemporary tools and technologies like social media and CRM solutions, history shows that companies that listen to their customers thrive. One such example is Best Buy. By collecting customer reviews, the company is able to share product and services feedback with vendors and readily take action on feedback provided. They even reward customers with special points to use toward future purchases for completing reviews. As a result, they have carved a unique market position and continue to excel as a customer-centric and innovative electronics retailer.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. How do companies define success and benchmark?
Measuring your Customer Experience doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Successful CX is influenced by many more variables than a traditional marketing funnel. Overall, Customer Experience can broken-down into 3 main areas: Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention and Organizational Efficiency. Within each of these categories are many opportunities to develop benchmarks for numerous KPI’s such as Conversion Rate, Net Promoter Score, or Customer Satisfaction. That being said, most companies find that there’s so single metric to measure your Customer Experience success. Rather, it’s a collection of data points that allow you to gauge your customer happiness and provide the means for actionable insights. No matter how you choose to measure, make sure that you are not simply tabulating results. It’s critical that you have an actionable system in place that drives improvement and is customer-obsessed.
Recognized by CIOReview as one of the Top 20 Most Promising Customer Experience Solutions Companies, PPT Solutions empowers our Clients with transformational business solutions that deliver exceptional performance, outstanding customer experiences and measurable results. Visit pptsolutions.com to learn how we can optimize your business and Customer Experience.
About PPT Solutions
Since 2013, PPT Solutions has served as a premier provider of Client-centric, performance-based Customer Experience and Business Optimization Solutions. Whether a Fortune 50 company or an emerging small business, we passionately deliver a broad range of people, process and technology solutions customized to increase customer advocacy, enhance revenue and optimize operational efficiency. With over 60 years of combined experience and an extensive portfolio of Management Consulting, Professional Services and Partnership Solutions capabilities, our Clients rely on us for advanced insights, adaptive business processes and innovative growth strategies.