The belief used to be that marketing led to sales and, if customers were satisfied, they’d come back to you again. However, the process is not quite that simple.
The customer experience (CX) lifecycle is based as much on how customers feel both during and after interactions with you – as opposed to your products or services, or even the amount of money paid for them.
Each touchpoint in the customer experience presents businesses with possibilities for positive revenue generation from integrating additional outstanding marketing. Taking advantage of these opportunities is critical as recent research shows customer experience will be the key driver in purchasing decisions by 2020.
So, what exactly is customer experience? How can it work in tandem with outstanding marketing efforts? We’ll go over the need-to-know information below.
Many companies consider customer experience interchangeable with customer service. This is not quite accurate. Or, to put it another way, customer service is contained within the customer experience, but there are additional key interactions which contribute to the customer experience lifecycle.
For example, if you purchase a computer online, the sales associate who’s friendly and helps you via a live chat function is providing good customer service. When your computer arrives, and in the box you find an unexpected coupon code for a year of free anti-virus software, that’s a good customer experience.
“Customer experience” may sound a bit too abstract to quantify, but that’s not the case. For example, the Temkin Group produces an annual report measuring customer experience at over 300 companies across 20 industries by utilizing feedback from 10K consumers.
The bad news? Overall, consumers are increasingly less happy with their customer experiences. The upside? That means there’s a huge opportunity for you to take advantage of this trend with an effective customer experience strategy of your own.
One major issue, according to Bain & Company, is that 80% of companies believe they already deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree with them.
Instead of relying on abstract aspirational goals and mission statements to predict customer experience, every company must take an honest look at how it’s actually operating during every interaction with customers. Only then can customer experience – and the outstanding marketing opportunities available – be fully realized.
The first step is to know who your customers are as people. This includes gender, age, education, location, profession, relationship status, and income.
After that, you need to know who they are as your customers. This means the types of purchases made, frequency, amount of money spent, and the locations where these transactions occur: brick and mortar, online, onsite, or somewhere else.
After that, you need to know the makeup of their current customer experience and their relative level of satisfaction – or lack thereof – with it. An effective way to do this is to calculate your Net Promoter Scale (NPS). You can quickly determine on a scale of 1-100 how likely existing customers are to recommend you to others.
Another benefit? You can compare your score against your industry’s benchmarks, as well as those of your competitors.
While customers make up one important constituency you need feedback from, your employees are another one.
That’s because, as leadership guru Simon Simek notes, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
Not surprisingly, companies with better NPS scores have increased rates of highly engaged employees. These engaged employees constitute one of your outstanding marketing opportunities.
This means incorporating ongoing feedback from employees into your customer experience strategy. At the same time, you must be thoughtful about collecting employee feedback, so you don’t obtain skewed results. Based on the data you collect, you’ll need to retool both business processes and training, as necessary.
Once you’ve done the data collection and collation above, you’ll know where you stand with current customer experience. At that point, you can begin to define the customer experience you want to create and nurture. What do your customers want? What are you delivering to them now? The answers to those questions will determine your next steps.
One thing to keep in mind is not to start with technology solutions. Instead, always begin with the customer experience in both its current and ideal iterations.
As Steve Jobs said, “You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”
On a nuts and bolts level, you must:
Once you have a fully realized customer experience, this becomes an outstanding marketing opportunity as your customers will become evangelists for your products and services.
Remember: Don’t silo your business practices from customer experience processes. This is ultimately counterproductive as you need to be integrating all operations into a seamless whole for maximum effectiveness.
For example, most people are a bit wary when waiting for a worker they’ve never met, such as an HVAC technician, to arrive at their home. Using field service automation tools, you can easily send an employee photo and bio to customers to let them know exactly who to expect. Plus, as they’ll already have a level of comfort with who’s showing up, there will be increased opportunities to provide additional services and upgrades.
To create an optimal customer experience requires two things at the outset: data and honesty.
All your decisions must be based on facts – both the good and not-so-good – as determined by relentless and ongoing data collection.
You must also be honest about where your company is now, where you want it to be, and the long-term resources you’re willing to devote to arrive there. At this intersection of data and honesty you’ll be able to chart the best path forward.