Customer experience (CX) covers every touchpoint a customer or prospect has with your company – digital, verbal, physical and visual. Crucially, it centers around the perception a customer has of a business; a brand could think it comes across in a certain way but to the customer it could look completely different, and it’s the way the customer perceives the brand that’s important.
The emphasis on customer experience has grown over the past few years, but why is this?
As social media and real-time interaction has developed, people are very quick to make a judgement about the businesses they connect with, and many make this judgement through online reviews, before they’ve even interacted with the brand.
By 2020, Walker predicts that customer experience will overtake price and product to become the new key brand differentiator. Currently, 86% of customers say they would pay more money for a product/service where they will get better customer experience.
That’s why customer experience is key in the printing industry – in a tough competitive market, CX will help a company outperform their competitors.
A number of reports emphasize the importance of customer experience, including one from Accelent which found that building up a great customer experience is nearly twice as important to a business as increasing sales.
Other surveys have shown the importance of customer service too, EConsultancy’s Digital Marketing Trends report found that enhancing customer experience came top of the ‘most exciting trends’ for 2016 with 22% and its importance is very visible in the market today.
Online customer service is improving rapidly and half of UK adults say it has improved over the past 5 years. But the digital world has changed things and people are more likely to research a brand before they get in touch with them – more than 1 in 3 (36%) UK retail customers have said that if a brand offers a customer an inconsistent experience, across mobile, online and in-store, it would put them off buying. A further third of people said receiving offers that weren’t relevant to them really put them off.
Before the age of customer experience, businesses believed that they would gain and retain customers by offering them the best product at the best price. But this is no longer true - in today’s digital age success is gauged on the customer experience and how customers perceive the brand.
Social media and other technologies are making it easier for businesses to offer the more personal brand experience that modern customers want. But it can also create problems for companies that haven’t quite got it right. If a business doesn’t offer the experience that the customer expects, then it is very easy for that customer to leave negative reviews on social media, and these have the potential to spread very quickly. According to Esteban Kolsky, if customers are not satisfied, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people that they are unhappy. On the other hand, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.
Back in 2015, The Director’s Centre found that 80% of companies think that they give above average customer service, but in contrast, only 11% of customers think that they receive above average customer service.
If a brand doesn’t earn a customer’s trust and loyalty, they could end up either:
It has been found that it can cost up to five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one, so there is more value is enhancing the customer experience, in order to retain existing customers, rather than spending money to market to new ones.
Genesys found that there are many reasons for increasing emphasis on customer experience, and making sure customers are happy. The top, and most obvious reason, is to improve customer retention, second comes improve customer satisfaction, which will more than likely result in increased customer retention. And thirdly, to increase cross-selling and up-selling – after all, if a customer is happy, they are more likely to want to stay loyal to that business and buy more products/services from them.
A key thing to remember when thinking about customer experience is word of mouth. Keeping the current customer base happy is likely to increase the number of new customers gained. If a business has satisfied customers, they are likely to refer their friends or trusted associates to use that business too.
Every business will have a different approach to making sure they give the best customer experience, but the key areas that all companies need to work on are:
There is also a framework that businesses can adopt if they want to make the most of their efforts in CX.
Once a consistently positive experience is being delivered, the business should then ask the customer to share their experiences and become ambassadors for their brand – influencing others to consider using the brand themselves.