What Is Meant by Customer Experience?
What is meant by customer experience, and why does it matter? Customer experience, or CX, is the totality of sensory, behavioural, cognitive, and affective consumer responses during all three phases of the customer lifecycle – pre-purchase, consumption, and post-purchase. CX is the snowballing impact of multiple touchpoints and why customers become regulars or shun the business altogether.
But, despite the growing body of evidence that CX impacts strategy, profitability, and stakeholder management, it comes as a surprise that most CEOs do not own and lead the customer experience charge – at least in the eyes of the board. Indeed, there seems to be a discrepancy between what CEOs say and what those beneath them say with regards to who’s leading CX initiatives. As reported by The Economist, while 72% of CEOs think they themselves are in charge of CX, only 27% of other executives accept that this is the case.
(Image source: perspectives.eiu.com)
This status quo isn’t the best way to approach customer experience. CX starts from the top. This is not to say that the CEO, Founder, or owner should micromanage the process. However, they should be involved in creating a CX strategy and monitoring the process. The CEO is the most influential person in a business and can make critical CX decisions. There is also a greater likelihood of follow-through when the CEO leads. In addition, CEOs have greater power in allocating funds for CX initiatives, making the customer experience strategy more impactful.
What are the Benefits of a Good Customer Experience?
That said, let’s consider some of the benefits of customer experience. Why should any CEO, owner or founder bother to take charge of this process rather than allow another executive to manage it? Well, the research on this has been pretty consistent over the last few years. Let’s sample a few stats over the previous five years:
- A 2016 study by the Temkin Group (acquired by Qualtrics) that evaluated 294 companies across 20 industries found that for a company with $1billion in annual revenues, a modest CX improvement translated into additional revenues of $823 million over three years.
- In 2018, the Temkin Group also published The State of CX Management report, which found that companies with the best customer experience are more likely to have a CEO and other top executives that value CX.
- In 2020, a Walker Study concluded that CX is now the key brand differentiator, overtaking price and product.
In 2021, the vast majority of companies agree that customer experience is critical to maintain loyalty. 87% of executives say they expect to compete on CX this year, according to Gartner.
The verdict? Better customer experience leads to a better bottom line.
(Image source: Linkedin)
What Is Customer Experience Management?
How can we manage customer experience? How can CEOs and other executives proactively manage customer experience to ensure they reap the benefits? It all starts with a CX strategy.
At its core, a CX strategy is a framework that defines the methodology and actionable plans your organisation takes that lead to positive, meaningful customer interactions across all channels. You can lean on your CX strategy to ensure quality service in the face of increased pressure for better bottom-line results.
Customer Experience Management Framework
A successful customer experience strategy framework should consider several essential factors: mission and vision, competitive insight, consumer research, and marketplace data.
Gartner provides an example of what it calls a dynamic customer engagement (DCE) framework, consisting of technology, people, and processes at the core, leading outwardly to reduced expenses, increased revenue, and improved customer experience.
(Image source: gartner.com)
When defining your own customer experience framework, you must ensure you include all departments, not just your front-line teams. Incorporating feedback and insights from across the business makes it easier to align everyone around the intended goal of improving customer experience.
The following are nine best practices to help you define a comprehensive, cohesive CX strategy.
- Customer service convenience: Do customers have to wait until Monday to reach out to you? If so, you have a problem. Think of ways to make your customer service as convenient as possible. This will include expanding the number of CX channels you make available. Recent research reveals that 41% of consumers say phoning a contact centre has replaced face-to-face, in-store interactions with brands, indicating that the telephone remains a crucial channel. However, further findings suggest that one in three consumers believe businesses should be available by phone 24/7, which may pose significant challenges. As such, self-service channels will become increasingly important – 43% of consumers already prefer to use self-service channels like chatbots rather than phoning a call centre.
- Customer service consistency: Customers are looking to build trust, and trust is built through consistency in your policies, processes, and actions at all locations and touchpoints.
- Use feedback to refine products and services: Ensure customer feedback from surveys, focus groups, and other sources is not siloed but promptly channelled to production teams and used to create products and services.
- Offer convenience during purchases: Innovate around purchase convenience. Make it easier for customers to shop the way they want.
- Create in-person and digital personalisation: Throughout the customer relationship, collect data that you can use to provide relevant suggestions in future and better customer support.
- KISS: Keep it simple, sir. Simplify your touchpoints and focus on ease of use. For example, Amazon’s “Buy now with 1-click” is the embodiment of simplicity.
- Flexible communication channels: Think omnichannel. Your customers should be able to contact you in multiple ways according to their preference. As Erik Duffield, GM and Managing Director at Deloitte Digital puts it, “[Omnichannel] technologies help eliminate silos and develop rich connections between data and systems – helping brands to reach consumers with the content that’s important to them at the right time.”
- Embrace automation and AI: Scaling consistent, personalised customer service is impossible without automation and artificial intelligence (AI) investments. Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva explains that AI-based chats allow organisations to speed up customer service delivery, meaning more customers can be serviced in a shorter space of time, boosting the experience for all. “Companies that use AI for their customer service have shorter queuing lines because AI already screens customers that need human intervention from those that don’t,” says Masjedi. “Most of the time, customers have the same problem and require the same solution. When customer service representatives tend to these customers one-by-one, it becomes time-consuming and laborious.”
- Be driven by data: In the age of CX, data really is the new oil for businesses. Why? Because in order to compete on CX and provide customers with a great experience, you need to know their preferences and interests. Only with a 360-degree view of the customer can you make every interacting meaningful and memorable. “Data is the fuel that allows organisations to unlock greater business value,” says Duffield. “Customer data management tools, like customer data platforms, give marketers control of vast amounts of customer data, visibility into how their target audiences make decisions, and insight into which customer experience improvements to prioritise.”
How Can ACS Help?
We cannot overemphasise the importance of proactive customer experience management. At Ashine Consultancy Services, we help you deliver excellent customer experience quickly and efficiently. We achieve this by automating your business processes using the latest technologies such as Cloud Automation and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). In addition, we create a digital workforce freeing your team to focus on their core responsibilities. Check out our best in class customer experience examples for real-world evidence of what we can do for you.
For more information on how you can begin to create a world-class customer experience in your company, we recommend you read our comprehensive CX whitepaper.
Also, if you are interested to learn more about bespoke Customer Portal solutions, business process automation, custom software development, data management solutions, website development, mobile app development, and other tailored software solutions to improve your customer experience (CX), book a free consultation.