The customer experience is a hot topic. However, more than simply being a buzzword, it’s an essential business strategy component that can no longer be pushed to the back burner or ignored.
Focussing on the customer experience can in fact help you:
- Protect your income by fostering loyal customers;
- Cut the costs associated with customer attrition and acquisition rates;
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your tools, processes and Customer “channels”;
- Engage your employees thanks to a customer-focussed culture;
- Foster greater productivity and decrease staff turnover;
- Stand out from the competition – while copycat risks increase and margins decrease, the customer experience is a differentiating factor.
The customer experience is the result of all the interactions a customer can have with regard to a brand or business, or what the customer has seen and felt. It’s the art of making a positive, long-lasting impression.
Talking about the customer experience emphasizes the rational and emotional benefits underlying the purchase of a service or product rather than simply its characteristics. Therefore, it’s the customer’s perception that counts; you need to modify it to ensure the customer has a positive experience.
Let’s be honest: how well do you really know your customers? What kind of customer experience are you trying to provide? Which emotions are you trying to evoke? What are your customers really looking for? What creates value for your organization? And especially, how focussed is your organization on its clientele?
More loyal customers, enhanced reputation
It’s no longer enough to simply satisfy your customers. You need to make them loyal and encourage them to recommend you so that your organization can reap tangible benefits. Why is this important?
- Recruiting a new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing one (TARP Institute – USA).
- A dissatisfied customer will tell about 13 people on average, but only 1 out of 25 will actually contact you to complain;
- A satisfied customer will tell five people;
- On average, customer experience leaders achieve greater stock market returns regardless of economic cycles, according to a post entitled Is there a Return on Customer Experience Investments? published on the Watermark Consulting blog.
Where to begin?
With customers of course! First and foremost, is knowing your customers well and having a clear idea of the customer experience you wish to offer.
Make sure to know your customers well, in particular, their needs and expectations, but also their desires and the positive emotions they’re looking for by doing business with you. You even need to pinpoint the stereotypes influencing the perception of your organization and its services which can hinder a memorable customer experience if they’re not broken. This exercise will provide you with clear indications on the customer experience they’re seeking and what they’re expecting (your service attributes) during their journey with you. It’s important to understand that in a B2B situation, the customer is a multifaceted individual, with needs, expectations, desires, emotions and stereotypes that can vary in the fine print. In this case, maintaining close communication at all levels in the organization to be able to deal with these differences will be a winning strategy. This exercise might seem obvious, but even today, few organizations bother to investigate beyond the simple needs and expectations of their clientele…
Assess how your organization performs in the creation of the customer experience your clientele is looking for and that you’re willing to offer.
On the basis of a known, relevant customer experience management model, assess whether your organization is truly focussed on the customer and identify performance gaps in your customer experience management.
On one hand, how is the customer culture within your organization? Does the organization’s leadership foster efforts in this regard? Have you defined and communicated your customer promise or service values to your staff? Are your employees committed to attaining a common goal, which is to better serve the customer?
On the other hand, are your customer experience delivery systems performing and consistent? First, do the employees have a good understanding of the customer experience to be delivered? Are they trained accordingly and do they exhibit the key behaviours of the customer promise? Second, do your work processes, procedures and tools enable your staff to go beyond the call of duty for your customers? Is the physical and virtual environment that you offer in line with the customer experience you’re trying to provide?
Lastly, do your efforts result in actual gains and create value for your organization? Managing the customer experience is not only for being nice to your customers; your organization must be able to reap the benefits. Do you have loyal customers? Would your customers recommend you? Will your brand image and the organization’s reputation be enhanced?
The issue is not having performance gaps, but rather failing to address them! You need to take action.
You need to implement a program to eliminate gaps in the current customer experience and what you want to offer while paying particular attention to revamping the organization’s customer culture and improving the performance of the three customer experience delivery systems, i.e., employees, organizational processes and systems and the physical and virtual environment. All must be aligned with the experience you want to offer customers. Mapping the customer journey is an excellent way of defining the customer experience in detail at each point of contact between your customers and yourself and to determine improvement methods that will later be used in a bold, yet realistic and sustainable action plan.
The first success factor is being able to rely on management’s unconditional commitment. Managers must send a clear message about making the customer experience the corner stone of the business strategy and fostering success in order to motivate the staff to contribute. Improving the customer experience is done through inspirational management and leadership that will engage employees and motivate them to attain this common objective.
Lastly, as more than 70% of customer experience review projects fail at the implementation stage, sufficient efforts must be deployed at that point to ensure the necessary changes are implemented and that improvements last. The active supervision of developments and the use of tools such as scorecards including specific indicators can be useful for increasing the chances of success of a customer experience review project.
Have we convinced you? Are you already on the right path?