Customer experience is becoming a more popular idea as companies seek new ways to be more competitive and grow their business.
At its core, customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer that lasts for more than just one or two transactions. If done correctly, it creates a relationship between the customer and company that increases brand awareness and loyalty, and brings about more sales over a longer period.
Unfortunately, many companies are getting it wrong. They think customer experience is just another buzzword for customer service. They jump on the bandwagon by adding a few more special-offer emails or tack up posters that read “The customer is always right!” in the employee breakroom. They provide new scripts for their call center employees, who begin to sound like robots as they deal with customers the same way each time.
The problem is that getting the customer experience wrong can be costly. It can alienate customers quickly, lose long-term sales and quickly ruin a company’s reputation as social media critiques turn ugly.
If you want to make sure you’re getting your customer experience right, it’s a good idea to first consider what you may be doing wrong, such as:
- Focusing only on the customer. The customer experience involves more than just the customer. It’s also about the employee, who must be engaged in order to make it work. Forrester research finds that employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel that their work has a purpose; they feel challenged; and they are given the (reasonable) authority to meet customer needs. For many organizations, this will mean revamping the company culture and getting the critical support from senior leaders. Chris Edmonds in “The Culture Engine” advocates an “organizational constitution” that defines the key values, the strategy, goals and measurable behaviors to eliminate any confusion about the customer experience.
- Being inconsistent. Whether customers deal with your online operations or a brick-and-mortar store, they need to have a seamless experience. For example, if they buy online, they need to be able to return purchases to a physical store location. Further, company employees need to have a broader range of knowledge so they can communicate solutions and not just pass the problem onto another employee. Research shows that 56% of customers stop doing business with a brand after a customer experience failure, and 80% of those say they will never do business again with the company. Customers no longer judge a company on one satisfactory transaction – they’re looking for an overall experience they feel meets their needs over time.
- Annoying customers. No company sets out to irk customers, but that’s what they end up doing when they blast them with texts, emails and pop-up offers. When companies let technology take over the customer experience, they don’t develop the knowledge they need to understand when, how and how much the customer wants interactions.
- Thinking customer satisfaction is enough. Research finds that 80% of customers who change suppliers say they’re satisfied with their previous supplier. Traditional ways of measuring customer loyalty are changing. Now, brands need customers who are willing to advocate for them – to recommend them to others via online or word-of-mouth. In other words, the customer needs to become a salesperson for your business.
- Being cheap. It’s going to cost money to make some of the necessary fixes to your customer experience, but it’s much more costly to have to go after new customers all the time. It’s much cheaper to retain the customers you have and let them become advocates for your brand – and bring in new customers for you.
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