According to a recent study by US-based customer experience consulting firm Walker Information, by 2020, customer experience (CX) will overtake price and product as the key differentiator of business performance. In other words, satisfied customers drive business success.
Businesses around the world are prioritising the importance of customer experience. The world’s leading research and advisory company, Gartner Institute says more than 5,000 organisations globally now employ a dedicated CX leader, and more than 40% of those leaders report directly to the CEO.
At Six Degrees, we are seeing an increase in demand for CX roles and have been working with a number of organisations leading the way in customer experience. These leaders are shaping their organisations’ internal workings to build frameworks that put the customer at the heart of everything they do.
We often hear the term “customer experience,” but what exactly does it mean? According to Blake Morgan of Forbes magazine, customer experience includes a lot of elements, but it really boils down to the perception the customer has of your brand.
“Everything a company does contributes to how customers perceive it, and therefore to the overall customer experience, including the messaging you use, the products you sell, the sales process, and what happens after the sale, plus other internal factors like the interworking of the company, its leadership, and the engineering of the product or service.”
Why is customer experience management so important?
Customers today have higher expectations than ever before and are also spoilt for choice, with the internet making it even easier to shop around for different products online. This means customers are less loyal to brands and the need for businesses to create a “sticky” customer experience is more important than ever before.
According to 2013 study by Dimensional Research, if a customer has a bad experience with your company at any point, it could spell the end of the relationship, with 59% of respondents saying they'd leave permanently after having a bad experience, and more than half saying they'd go to a direct competitor.
On the flip side, a great customer experience can lead to positive word-of-mouth, which in today’s digital age is more valuable than ever.
How to deliver a superior CX strategy
To achieve a superior customer experience, your customers need to be at the centre of every decision you make. If you have a strong CX strategy, customer experience excellence can become a key differentiator in maintaining your current customer base, gaining new customers, and enhancing brand loyalty.
Andy Steuer of Forbes magazine, outlines five key ways to build a superior CX strategy. These include:
1. Defining your customer experience vision
To do this you need to look objectively at your company from your customer’s point of view. A good starting point, Steuer suggests, is to talk to your customers, listen in on customer support calls or host small focus groups with potential customers to see how they rate you on each touch point. “It’s critical to map the customer process from their point of view to see whether you are meeting the mark and where you can improve.”
2. Understanding your customer needs
Nothing beats talking to customers directly, Steuer says. You also need to talk to your internal resources as well. What are your sales teams and support teams hearing? Call your support line and see how long you sit on hold and whether the person answering is committed to solving your problem.
3. Sharing your vision across the organisation
A customer-centric approach has to be lived and breathed by everyone in your organisation. Steuer suggests building a dashboard that gives you key performance indicators around metrics most important to your customer experience and sharing the dashboard with your team members to keep everyone in the loop.
4. Creating customer connections
Most people believe they make logical decisions based on analysis, however, in reality, emotions play a significant role in determining our decisions.
A study published by the Harvard Business Review found customer value significantly increases as the customer becomes more emotionally connected. Those emotions shape the overall feeling about a company that can be the underlying factor in buying decisions.
5. Measuring consistently
Once you have developed your vision and created the framework for how you will deliver great customer experiences, it’s important to consistently measure yourself by asking customers and employees for feedback on a regular basis. A well-implemented CX measurement program will give you valuable insights about your customers’ loyalty, areas for improvement and the interactions that matter most.