Despite customer experience playing an outsized role in the success of business today, many organizations fail to recognize it as a competitive differentiator. Here’s why they should reconsider that position.
hink back to your last customer experience. Did you come away satisfied? Did the company go above and beyond to offer you a product or service that met or exceeded your expectations? If so, chances are you’re a repeat customer — or will become one.
Now, think back on a bad customer experience. It’s likely unforgettable — not to mention clickable. Bad customer experiences create moments that online reviewers live for — while scaring off future patrons.
Today, customer experience plays an outsized role in an organization’s success. In fact, a recent study1 reported that more than half of consumers would stop engaging with content if they encountered any issues. Despite its importance, many executives are so encumbered by day-to-day tactical execution that they don’t have the time to think more strategically about customer experience.
Take for example the backlash Apple faced after failing to inform customers that they had algorithms in place to slow down older iPhones. Multiple lawsuits ensued until Apple was forced to slash the price2 of battery replacements from $79 to $29 to compensate for their misconduct. A year later, they were sued again3 by an Italian regulatory group for the same issue — to the tune of 5 million euros.
What many firms fail to realize is that an exceptional customer experience is synonymous with being great at process development, and more importantly, execution. If organizations want to bolster sustainable growth from their core operations, they need to take a hard look at the value they place on the age-old axiom: The Customer is King.
Why the Hesitance?
Organizations are constantly on the lookout for new growth opportunities, investing in everything from products to geographies to customer segments. But leaders sometimes end up throwing a barrage of products and services at their customers without identifying what they truly want, rather than recognizing the motives that drive their purchasing behavior. That leads to trouble, especially in a competitive landscape where products and services can easily be replicated, repackaged, and sold at lower price-points.
When executives think about customer experience, they sometimes shudder. That’s because the words “customer experience” come with the baggage of previous inefficiencies. In the past, improving customer experience has been an expensive, difficult, and messy endeavor. The transformation spans across functions, interacting with different ecosystems, demographics and geographies. It also requires an enterprise-wide overhaul, which can be exceedingly difficult for multinational organizations.
The ramifications for poor customer experience, however, go beyond the impact on a company’s reputation. The NewVoiceMedia 2018 “Serial Switchers” report4 showed that poor customer service is costing business over $75 billion a year, up $13 billion since their last report in 2016. As the issue proliferates, companies must ask themselves: how well are we curating our customer’s experience?
When implemented correctly, a revamped customer experience brings many benefits to the table. Retaining customers, building lasting relationships and reducing costs by cleaning up internal processes are all things organizations with positive customer interactions can look forward to.
Mapping the Customer Journey
Designing an effective customer experience hinges on the core organizational processes that touch customers through the “customer journey.”
Here’s the shortcut: The journey begins with brand, marketing and advertising whose job is to first make customers aware of the organization and its offerings. The journey continues through the sales process and initial customer engagement. Next comes sales conversion, but the journey doesn’t end at the point of sale. To truly drive sustainable growth, organizations must focus on the critical touchpoints that delight customers and inspire loyalty.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, however. In some organizations, a relatively small percentage of customers contribute most to company profits. Also, in some industries such as travel or hospitality, a goldmine of customer data exists that simply needs to be mined to implement programs that improve customer experience. In other industries, customer experience development may need to be more tactical. Either way, focusing on how well the organization performs at different touchpoints during the journey is critical as it will dictate strategy.
First Things First
To truly facilitate a seamless customer experience, organizations should prioritize four core objectives: customer is king, customer priorities, customer processes, and execution. The following are starting places:
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Determine the competitive market position of your organization. Validate the need for customer experience improvement by garnering a better understanding of the customer journey. Doing so will allow you to target critical customer segments for growth and assess key customer touchpoints.
Prioritize the customer touchpoint processes. Design your products and services around your customer and focus on improving engagement. Websites running too slow? Invest in your digital team to improve user experience. Customers feel like their opinions don’t matter? Create a constant feedback loop that asks customers what they think and ways you can improve.
Mobilize the organization around your mission and lead the transformation. Develop the teams necessary, the plans to move forward, and oversee every aspect to glean a comprehensive understanding of the process from end to end.
Lastly, organizations must be willing to put their money where their mouth is. With a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey, the right strategies in place and funds to bolster the effort each step of the way, organizations can offer up the royal treatment that today’s customers demand.
1. Adobe, 2019 Adobe Brand Content Survey, February 7, 2019. https://www.slideshare.net/adobe/2019-adobe-brand-content-surveywww.slideshare.net/adobe/2019-adobe-brand-content-survey
2. Sean Hollister, Apple apologizes for iPhone slowdowns, slashes price of battery fix, December 28, 2017. https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-sorry-iphone-battery-slowdown-ios-update-official/
3. Marrian Zhou, Apple and Samsung fined for slowing down phones with upgrades, October 25, 201. https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-and-samsung-fined-for-slowing-down-phones-with-updates/
4. NewVoiceMedia, 2018 NewVoiceMedia “Serial Switchers” report. https://www.newvoicemedia.com/en-us/resources/serial-switchers-swayed-by-sentiment-how-bad-emotive-customer-experiences-are-costing-brands-billions (Note: Report must be downloaded.)