What is customer experience and why is it important?
What is customer experience?
When was the last time you were thrilled – or frankly annoyed – as a customer? Well, that’s what customer experience (CX) is: the overall perception that customers have towards a brand based on the cumulative effect of all the interactions (positive or negative) they’ve had with this brand.
And we do mean ALL the interactions. An enchanting visit to a store, a call to the hotline that took too long to answer, a web experience that didn’t lead to a purchase, an ad on TV that missed the mark… This means taking the pulse of the relationship at all touchpoints and channels across the customer journey, from first impressions to evaluation to purchase to support, and back again. It’s about understanding your customer’s entire human experience when it comes to your brand, products and service.
“15 years ago, the average consumer typically used two touchpoints when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today consumers use an average of almost six touch points, with 50% regularly using more than four.”Marketing Week
That’s how the discipline of customer experience management was born: to encapsulate all these experiences, measure their impact on customer satisfaction, and understand how they affect customer behaviors and the entire business. And this last part is crucial! For CX to work as a discipline, it can’t just be about making customers happy. It’s about making the link between satisfaction and behaviors, and between behaviors and business results. That’s human experience, right there. The full story of your audience.
Why is customer experience important?
As commoditization spreads further and further across all sectors, CX has become the new competitive battlefield. It’s where customers are won… or lost. The nature of their interactions with a brand is also getting more complex than ever. Digital and physical worlds are increasingly colliding, even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic. Customer expectations have shifted, and convenience is now taken for granted.
“You’re not behind your competitors; you’re behind your customers — behind their expectations.”Brendan Witcher, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester
Simply delivering products and services to the right place and on time is now a given – in B2C but also in a business-to-business context. Switching brands has never been easier and the impact of a single negative experience can quickly result in customer churn.
Brands need to go above and beyond to differentiate themselves in their marketplace. The good news is that when they do, they reap the benefits for their efforts in terms of business results, such as:
- Increased customer retention
- Increased share of wallet
- Customer acquisition through word of mouth
- Decreased cost-to-serve
- And more
Quick caveat: to measure the impact of CX on these business outcomes, you need to build this link early in the design of the customer experience program. It’s a lot harder to do this later (but still possible, so don’t give up).
So, there you have it. Better customer experience leads to better business results. Simple as that!
Examples of customer experience
So, what makes a good customer experience? Well, it’s about making it effortless for customers to engage with and buy from you. In many ways, what that looks like depends on a multitude of factors, including industry, buyer persona, channel, etc. But what really matters is consistency and quality at all touchpoints and across all channels.
Here are some examples of good customer experiences:
- Finding a product online easily and getting it delivered the next day
- An intuitive and effective self-help section on a website
- Receiving clear guidance from a sales rep, without the pressure to buy
- A quick-and-easy chat option for support
- The product you want inside beautifully designed packaging
By contrast, negative experiences can exponentially affect your relationship with a customer, for instance by:
- Making them wait a long time before they can speak to someone for help
- Asking them to give you information you should already know
- Sending them a damaged product and making it hard for them to return it
Combining the essentials (e.g., what you ordered, on time) with an added wow can be a remarkably effective way to provide positive customer experiences that differentiate from your competitors. And it doesn’t always cost much or take a lot of effort to go above and beyond. The insurance industry has been particularly innovative, for example with call agents being empowered to delight their customers with little gestures that make a big difference. Like sending flowers or a card to a customer who’s having a baby.
What is customer experience software?
If you want to deliver better experiences, first you need to understand what your customers think and feel about your brand, and you need a way to measure it. And to do all this, you need a robust customer experience software platform.
Here’s a quick checklist of what you should look out for in a CX management solution:
- Omnichannel data collection, so you can gather feedback data from any channel at key touchpoints (web, mobile, in-store…)
- Role-based dashboards that give the right insights to the right people at the right time, including trends in KPIs such as NPS or CSAT
- A closed-loop system that helps employees resolve issues and rescue at-risk customers
Forsta’s suite of CX solutions enables you to do all this, and more! Our unique approach makes it possible for you to turn black-and-white data into stories in color. Advanced analytics offer full flexibility to manipulate the data as you need, and powerful automation features let you customize alerts as needed, so you can drive action at all levels of the organization.
With Forsta, you can move from acting on hunches to backing up business decisions with hard data and deep insights. We believe that’s what CX is about: insights-based business growth. And for this you need the customer’s voice at the heart of your decision making, or you’re likely to miss what really matters … and lose customers in the process.
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