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Each year we see Customer Experience (CX) playing a greater role in both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies. But why is this trend not only continuing, but becoming one of the most critical strategies for today’s businesses?
Is it because purchasers, whether consumers or businesses, are empowered today to buy from companies who provide them with an experience that is effortless, personable, and enjoyable? Creating these types of experiences helps to ensure that your customers will continue doing business with you in the future, spending more money with you, and becoming an advocate for your business. This is vital for most businesses as acquiring new customers costs 7 times more than maintaining existing ones.
“Customer Experience is the new marketing,” … It’s the most important thing we do. We have the most demanding customers on the planet. Customer Experience better be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities in your organization.” Steve Cannon, President & CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA – CXPA Webinar
Today’s buyers can spread “word of mouth” experiences faster than ever and to more people by using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others. Social media word of mouth has become one of the most powerful tools that can make or break companies today. People are now actively seeking reviews from other buyers when looking to make a purchase today. According to research from Review Trackers, 94% say a negative online review has made them avoid a business. By focusing on the experiences of your customer you can minimize negative reviews and create advocates out of your customers.
Businesses are also finding out that by focusing on their customers and their experience, they can differentiate themselves from their competitors and increase their bottom line. Forrester looked at several pairs of publicly traded companies in which one of the companies in each pair had a significantly higher score than the other according to their Customer Experience Index. They found that CX leaders exhibited significantly higher revenue growth. Forrester went on to identify from the analysis of their CX Index data, that customers who had a better experience with a company are less likely to stop doing business with the company and more likely to recommend it to others.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around”
According to a Walker study, by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. And a study by Oracle found that 74% of senior company executives believes that customer experience impacts the inclination of customers being a loyal advocate.
The two most central components to creating great customer experiences are understanding your customers and acting upon their feedback. To understand your customers means to listen to them using “Voice of Customer” (VOC) activities which will result in actionable feedback. There are several ways to gather VOC feedback; including Relationship Surveys, Transactional Surveys, Strategic Customer Interviews, Focus Groups, and Advisory Boards.
Since customer experience is a series of interactions, typically referred to as touchpoints, between your business and customers over the lifetime of the relationship, obtaining customer feedback is more than just conducting a single survey. You need to gather feedback across these touchpoints at multiple points of time, as well as have a full understanding of the ongoing relationship with your customers.
Relationship surveys are a great way to begin gathering VOC as it focuses on the customers’ overall relationship with your business over a span of time (referred to as the customer journey). These surveys ask customers to consider their overall experience with your company and are usually carried out at regular intervals such as, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. B2C companies usually conduct relationship surveys across their entire customer base while B2B companies will survey multiple members from each client company to understand the complete relationship between the businesses. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric is widely used in relationship surveys to gauge and determine which segments within your customer experience need improving.
Transactional surveys concentrate on specific transactions (or touchpoints) between your customer and the business. These surveys are normally sent out right after a key interaction while the experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind. The transactional surveys allow your business to recognize how these touchpoints affect the overall customer relationship and where improvements are required. These surveys also provide a valuable tool to measure frontline staff, processes, and systems. Several standard metrics such, as NPS, Customer Effort Score (CES), and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) are used to measure the results in transactional surveys.
Although there are several other important components to an effective CX program, most companies first step is to begin by gathering the feedback of their customers to identify how they are doing and what needs to be changed.
So, one of the most important goals for businesses today is to establish a consistent and positive experience across the entire customer journey. And, if you are not listening to your customers and acting upon the feedback collected, you will not be able to succeed with this crucial strategy for growing your business in today’s competitive world.