The most frequent question that haunts even the savviest executive must be What do my customers want?
Customer-centric organizations have started to realize that ‘how they deliver’ is as important as ‘what they deliver.’ Companies are learning more about the customers, and are integrating the learning into delivering better customer experiences.
Econsultancy and Adobe performed their Annual Digital Trends report. As per this report, companies that were interviewed have ranked Customer experience (CX) as the single most exciting opportunity that they see in 2020. Customer experience stood on top beating content marketing, video marketing, and social media marketing!!
Further into this post, we discuss in detail about:
- Great Customer Experience Builds Great Reputation
- Customer Experience Improves Customer Retention
- Exceptional Customer Experience Boosts Revenues
- Excellent Customer Experience Drives Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Customer Experience Develops Competitive Advantage
- Customer Experience Establishes Greater Brand Awareness
- Great Customer Experience Brings About Reduction in Marketing Costs
- Customer Experience Builds Brand Loyalty
- Customer Experience Creates a Point of Differentiation
- Customer Experience Adds Value to Your Products and Services
- Define your Ideal Customer Experience
- Know Your customers and Connect Emotionally
- Measure customer experience
- Customer Experience gap analysis using tools and techniques
- Improve Your Customer Experience Strategy
Now let's start by understanding what is customer experience.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience Definition
Forbes defines customer experience as the “cumulative impact of multiple touch points” during a customer’s interaction with an organization.
Customer experience is an outcome of an interaction between a customer and an organization across the customer life cycle. It is the total of all their buying “experiences.” It covers all aspects of their relationship, including the shopping and buying process, as well as ongoing interactions. Customer experience can be a result of navigating your company website, interaction with customer service executives, and even the way customers receive your product/service.
Why Customer Experience is Important?
Customer experience is important for customer retention, building customer loyalty, developing competitive advantage, and a host of other benefits.
Most of businesses toss away what happens to a person once they become a customer. This is because business feels that now they are “done” with that person. The fact is that a current customer can be your most valuable asset if you know how to treat them right.
Data indicates that 73% of companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially as compared to their competitors.
Here are 10 Reasons Why Customer Experience Is Important to Your Business
1. Great Customer Experience Builds Great Reputation
77% of customers have shared positive brand experiences with others.
Imagine when a customer experiences exceptional service, the customer will be happy with your brand. Therefore, the customer will go about sharing a happy experience with friends and family.
90% of people are more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend. People trust when it comes from known people, and are more likely to buy.
No wonder, word-of-mouth is the most valuable source of marketing. You can convert your customers into your best and, in fact, the cheapest form of word-of-mouth advertising – but this is only when you deliver an exceptional customer experience
2. Customer Experience Improves Customer Retention
Do you know why customer service is important in customer retention? That’s because 75% of people would return to a company with excellent service.
Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
Exceptional customer service creates customer happiness. On the other hand, great customer service prevents customers from shifting to competitors. A brand’s unique product or service can help to reel them in, but customer service keeps them.
3. Exceptional Customer Experience Boosts Revenues
Bain & Co reports that “Companies with superior Customer experience grew revenue 5 times faster on average than their competitors with inferior customer experience.”
Customer service holds the golden key to a successful business. In addition to a great product or service that will increase sales, your customer service also plays a crucial role.
Better customer service = improved bottom line.
In fact, a survey of subscription-based businesses showed the importance of customer service. It came out very explicitly that clients who had a poor customer experience with a business showed only a 43% chance of renewing their subscription. Nevertheless, members who were happy with their experience were likely to remain members for the next 6 years! This indeed is great proof that great customer experience brings great sales!
4. Excellent Customer Experience Drives Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The simplest CLV definition is – Profit a company can make of one customer over time. The longer a brand can keep a customer, the greater is the CLV. To grow the CLV, your customers should shop more frequently. Your customers should spend more money on your business.
But what is the trick to making customers buy more and spend more?
Highly engaged customers buy 90% more frequently, spend 60% more per transaction, and have 3 times the annual value compared to other customers. Customers who had the best past experiences spent 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.
Delightful customer experience makes your customers happier and thereby results in more purchases.
5. Customer Experience Develops Competitive Advantage
High quality of customer service is a key method by which a business can differentiate itself from other businesses. A customer decides to keep coming back to you or to move to your competitor based on customer experience.
According to research, – “57% of customers have switched to a competitor to get a better experience.”
Hence great customer experience is key to your business success. To remain competitive, now and in the future, businesses need to start laying down a foundation for providing an exceptional customer experience.
Based on a research report, 67% of churn in customers is preventable. When the problems of the customer are solved during their first interaction, they become happy. Besides, if you provide excellent customer service, you will retain your customers. Furthermore, you will acquire your competitors’ customers, as well.
6. Customer Experience Establishes Greater Brand Awareness
In today’s business environment, one cannot succeed just by creating good products and services. Great customer experience is the need of the hour.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.”- Scott David Cook, Director of eBay and Procter & Gamble.
If people don’t know your existence, they can’t purchase your product or service. Brand awareness births as soon as a consumer remembers your brand from previous interaction with the brand. It could be seeing your logo or company name or hearing from some current customers. With great customer experience, you build brand awareness.
No wonder even the research statistics show that 73% of consumers love a brand because of helpful customer service.
7. Great Customer Experience Brings About Reduction in Marketing Costs
Whether you like it or not, let’s face it. Irrespective of whether you’re a well-established company or just a startup, marketing expenses can be pretty high.
On average, most businesses spend around 7-8% of gross revenue on marketing and as high as 20% in a competitive niche.
The best way to appeal to your customers is by knowing them better. Understanding what they want and connecting with them on an emotional level can lead to offering great customer service. Great customer experience triggers sharing experiences. Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising.
“75% of people don’t believe adverts, yet 90% trust suggestions from family and friends.”
Furthermore, with this deep understanding of your customers, you can focus on your marketing efforts by designing effective marketing campaigns. This reduces your overall marketing expenses.
8. Customer Experience Builds Brand Loyalty
Customer loyalty occurs when a customer comes back to purchase your product irrespective of the situational factors around your brand. Psychological studies proved that brand loyalty is intrinsic to the behavior of the human mind. Brand loyalty stays with the customers due to the great customer experience that accumulates using various products.
A study reveals that 52% of consumers continue to use a brand even after finding a cheaper deal elsewhere. Such is the strength of great customer experience.
Consumers are demanding more with every interaction with your product. Brand loyalty needs to be built by offering the next level of customer experience. With the help of these, customers will keep coming back, thereby creating strong brand loyalty.
9. Customer Experience Creates a Point of Differentiation
Excellent customer experience is identified as a major differentiation in a highly competitive marketplace.
A Walker study found that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiation.
Customer experience is racing ahead and has fast become a top priority for almost all businesses in 2020.
Two companies are offering a similar product. How will customers choose one of them? When friends and family have recommended one of the two, it can swing their opinion. The decision is most likely backed by a good customer experience. Companies that offer an outstanding customer experience create an environment where there are plenty of customer advocates. This will lead to customer satisfaction going full circle. Customers do not just promote your brand, but they run back for repurchase. Great customer experience helps you to keep a pulse on your current customers, as well as acts as a point of differentiation for new buyers.
10. Customer Experience Adds Value to Your Products and Services
A product or service with great quality is only half of attracting customers to your business. So, how can you ensure that they will choose to do business with you over the hundreds of other offers with similar or with lesser prices?
You can make a great deal of difference to products and services by adding many levels of customer service based upon the amount willing to spend, buying frequency, or influence of the customer.
Most people are indeed happily willing to pay more for the same product or service only when it comes to a great customer experience. Good customer service can justify a higher price tag on your product or service.
85% of consumers are ready to pay 25% more for a better customer experience, says a research study
Great Customer Experience Examples
What is a good customer experience?
“The company that can simplify the process of achieving the aspirations that its customers are seeking will disrupt its industry & the market- says Tony Bodoh, Customer Experience Strategist.
Here are 3 great real-life examples of companies that have offered excellent customer experience:
Look at how Tesla has won the heart of one of its customers.
When a customer called Tesla to get a flat tire fixed, Tesla went way out by visiting the house of the customer to fix it. Further, Tesla gave a quick fix as well as a new replacement tire. This has elated the customer who took it to Twitter. The customer was happy as no other company does this.
This is a great example of how a company goes the extra mile for its customers, thereby creating a magical customer experience.
Here is a story of a campaign that was created for a 14-year-old Ben Carter, who has autism. It got viral on Twitter under the hashtag #cupsforBen. Ben was used to a particular type of cup and needed a replacement. Without this cup, Ben would not take any liquid. This had gone to the point of dehydration and hospitalization.
The campaign went viral after thousands of shares, retweets, likes, and shout-outs. That’s when Tommee Tippee showed great customer service by announcing a limited run of 500 of the discontinued cups- especially for Ben. This is called a great customer experience.
Look at this example. This is great not just because of the great service but also due to the speed with which it all happened. Customer experience can be delivered when the companies are all eyes and ears for customer problems and expectations.
Morton’s Steakhouse went all the way out to offer an excellent customer experience to the noted speaker, Peter Shankman. Morton noticed that Peter had tweeted that he wished to eat a steak from one of his favorite restaurants – Morton Steakhouse. Morton’s staff drove 23 miles to the airport with a full meal.
Peter’s joy was beyond expectations.
This, for sure, we can classify as going beyond for the calling of a customer!
There is something to Learn From These Great Customer Experience Examples
Not many companies can do the above to deliver an exceptional customer experience. But these examples should inspire every business to remind the power of good customer experience. Every step that you take towards making a memorable experience – big or small – will be etched in the memory of the customer forever!
5 Ways to Create a Customer Experience Strategy
Let’s take a look at 5 ways to design a great customer experience strategy.
1. Define your Ideal Customer Experience
In order to know what to build, you need to have the end vision. This is exactly what Steve Jobs has to say.
Steve Jobs said – “beginning with the customer experience and working backward to the technology.”
The first stage of your customer experience management is to design a clear customer experience strategy. When a company has defined its ideal experience, it is important to communicate it clearly to the entire organization.
The simplest way to define this ideal strategy is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles.
Help the employees to identify the different stages of customer experience. Identify the opportunities where the staff can make an impression.
Zappos uses its core family values to deliver a great customer experience. Its values are deep inside the culture and are further portrayed in its customer service by being humble.
2. Know Your Customers and Design a Great Customer Experience Strategy
By now, you have already defined your ideal customer experience. The next step is to know and understand your customers. When you really understand your customers needs and wants, only then will you be able to connect and empathize with your customers.
The best way to start is to create buyer personas. It is a profile of your audience that helps you to understand the personality of your customer. In addition, it helps to understand what makes them buy your products. These buyer personas are aimed at getting under the skin of your customers and earning a good understanding of what your customer is all about.
For example, you will be able to craft a clear buyer persona as below:
- Female between 25 to 45 years, who lives in the US, and works in the fashion industry.
- Interests are health and fitness, weight management, fashion clothes.
- Driven towards healthy living, healthy products, organic products
- Reasons for not buying are price and quality
The buyer persona is detailed enough to understand the various factors of your ideal customer.
This is how Spotify campaign developed and made use of the buyer personas. When there was enough knowledge of the target audience it created a level of familiarity through tailored messaging.
See how PepsiMax made use of Spotify Advertising using personas. Pepsi identified that its customers are likely to drink Pepsi when the weather starts to become hot. They quickly partnered with a company to sponsor summer events. To spread awareness, they used more than 650 audio spots with the intention to target people between 18-49 years. Each audio spot was planned to focus on one summer event. This personalized event was a huge success and drove a 155% life in ad recall.
Research says that more than 50% of an experience depends on an emotion as emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions.
3. Measure Customer Experience
You have designed a great customer experience strategy. However, can you tell if your customers experienced a WOW moment?
You will now know until you measure it.
“Companies are increasingly using customer analytics techniques like customer satisfaction analysis, customer engagement analysis, and customer journey analytics to understand and improve CX.” — Forrester, The State Of Customer Analytics 2017
With the increasing importance of customer experience, many large organizations are employing more than 50 CX metrics. The metrics are either owned by the company or are outsourced to be managed by external agencies.
Here are 5 types of metrics for measuring customer experience:
Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
CSATs is the traditional method of collecting customer experience. One way is to capture feedback using survey questions that ask about satisfaction. Another way is to ask indirectly through product reviews or shopping scores.
Customer loyalty metrics
In this metric, customers are asked to retrospect by asking questions about their tenure with the product and their likelihood to stay with the company. Further, customers are asked about their purchase habits and frequency, their favorite channels for purchase, feedback on the loyalty programs, and so on.
Advocacy or Endorse metric
Here the metric tries to collect feedback from customers about their likelihood of recommending your products to their friends and family. There are different ways to collect it, such as social media rating, online forums, price sensitivity, trust rating, sentiment scores, and many more.
Product or service quality should be on top of all metrics. When the product does not meet the quality expectations, naturally, the customer experience is not going to be great. Hence it is important to measure quality satisfaction along with all other metrics. Moreover, without this metric, there is no sense in capturing all other customer experience metrics.
How is employee engagement related to customer experience?
A survey has identified employee engagement as a major driver of customer experience. 86% of organizations have ranked employee engagement as having an equal or greater impact than other customer experience strategies. Therefore, measuring employee engagement level becomes an important aspect of customer experience.
There can be many more metrics that capture customer experience. But these are some of the basic ones that cannot be missed.
Have a good focus on all the metrics rather than focusing heavily on just the CSAT. The best would be to consolidate the feedback from relevant metrics and convert it into a CX dashboard. This can be circulated across all departments so that the whole organization can be involved in improving the CX.
4. Customer Experience Gap Analysis Using Tools and Techniques
Moving on to the next step – Gap analysis. You already have the CX dashboards. You might have to face some surprising or shocking CX insights.
A study has revealed that 80% of companies believe they are providing great customer service, but only 8% of customers agree with them.
This is quite a shocking fact!! If you thought you are offering a great customer experience -Then it’s time to think again!
Sometimes the lack of looking into details can lead to a disaster. This is what happened with K-mart.
They were definitely measuring CX but not in the right place. They measured the overall satisfaction, and everything looked so good. But what they really dint see was the relevance. People who were satisfied did not spend more, whereas the customer who had spent the most were dissatisfied. They missed identifying this in the overall picture.
Does this sound familiar? In that case, you have to conduct a CX gap analysis.
A gap analysis is a way to examine your current performance in order to identify the differences between your current and expected state of CX. This can be done predominantly by revolving around 3 questions:
- How is our current Customer experience?
- What is our actual goal?
- What are the plans to close the gap?
Customer experience can be gathered using tools and techniques such as social media listening, customer feedback using surveys, Customer Relationship Management Systems, customer tickets, online consumer forums, and so on.
Customer experience collected using the tools and techniques can be analyzed and segregated to address them with a CX strategy. Each segment of customer experience will need different approaches as the customer issues might be different. Therefore, it is important to design tailored messages to customers to win their hearts.
5. Improve Your Customer Experience Strategy
This is the last stage of customer experience management before it goes into a loop again.
By now, you already have enough details about why customers are happy or unhappy with your products and services.
Based on customer experience analysis, design a successful customer experience strategy that is centered on what matters to your customers.
Assessing the current situation of your offering versus what customers want is real CX management. The needs and wants change often, and companies that improve upon existing strategies will emerge as the winner.
“I think Uber is just very different; there’s no model to copy.”
Take, for example, Uber.
Uber is such a classic example of improving customer experience. Uber discovered its biggest customer pain point – The wait time. They realized that customers were using this wait time to judge their overall customer experience. This meant they had to fix this big-ticket item to deliver an excellent customer experience. Uber analyzed the gaps that existed and figured out how to create a great experience for the customer as well as the driver.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Measure Customer Experience
By now, you already have understood that customer experience is a great driver of growth, but it can be the greatest source of risk if it fails.
Today’s customers have entered into an omnichannel world. Customer insights are emerging as one of the main tools for CX measurement and enhancement. Data is becoming complex, so is customer behavior. However, this complexity is exactly the reason why AI can unearth so much value across the customer experience.
Customer Experience Managers, Marketing Managers, Brand Managers, and customer-facing employees cannot be expected to know the customer experience across their entire journey.
This is where AI comes into the picture.
Mining customer insights from billions of customer journeys with the help of traditional analytic tools is time-consuming and laborious. AI-enabled analytics sifts through larger and more complex data and thereby uncovers consumer behavior.
Customer insights platforms are now emerging strongly with a host of APIs and development kits. These platforms can deliver real-time touchpoint integration with minimal investment.
There are two significant ways in which AI can be used to measure customer experience measurement:
- Understand customer experience data
- Actionable CX metrics
AI to Understand Customer Experience Data
Today’s modern tech-savvy customers are leaving a massive trail of customer experience data in the form of product reviews, star ratings, consumer forums, social media, call recordings, comments on the website, and chat transcripts. This acts as a rich amount of customer experience data. CX managers will dig into this data to measure customer experience.
1. Text Analytics Based on AI
Text analytics involves extracting meaning out of the text. The idea of conducting text analysis is to identify customer feedback in order to improve the customer experience. Companies are using text analytics software, machine learning, and natural language processing algorithms to find consumer sentiments.
For example, Clootrack derives consumer insights using text analysis. It identifies topics and sub-topics that are spoken by customers. It identifies the tone in which it is spoken. See how the tone is analyzed – “The resort is good” is scored lower than “The resort is fantastic.”
The conversations are segregated into positive and negative sentiments based on text analysis. Companies can deep dive into positive and negative comments to get insights into the customer experience.
In addition, it also identifies the relationships between the topics spoken. A customer conversation can contain several topics, with customers expressing separate emotions for each topic. For example, “Service is good, but the location is bad. Overall OK.” Here each aspect, such as the service, the location, and overall is analyzed. This methodology helps to get a list of all topics that matter to the customer with the emotions attached to each. Not just this, the topics are grouped based on their relationships at multiple levels for analysis.
Thus, text analytics is helping to add context and color to consumer information.
2. Emotion Analysis
Customer experience can be conveyed in many emotional signals. Anger, hate, sadness, and happiness can be expressed as facial expressions. The voice tone and voice pitch can exactly tell if the customer is happy. Body language can send important signals about the customer experience.
All these years, one could understand such consumer behavior only when the customer spoke about it. However, with AI, it is possible for a machine or a device to detect the emotion of a person – called as artificial emotional intelligence.
“By 2022, your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family.” — Gartner
Emotion detection and recognition from the text are very closely related to sentiment analysis. While sentiment analysis detects positive, neutral, or negative sentiments from the text, emotion analysis aims to recognize feelings in text. Anger, sad, disgust, happy, fear, and surprise- these can be detected with emotion analysis.
For example, Noldus offers Facial expression analysis software. The software analyzes the expressions – happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, disgusted, and neutral. Automated analysis of facial expressions brings clear insights into the effect of different stimuli on emotions. This helps companies to analyze customer experience.
3. Speech Analytics
Speech analytics is emerging as an important tool to measure customer experience. As a call center is most often the first contact for a customer with a company, speech analytics is usually employed here first.
Speech analytics is emerging as an important means to understand what customers actually think about your products or services. When companies get access to important information, they can take the necessary actions to make customer experience improvements.
In call centers, the speech data is confined to transcripts. Most of the time, these transcripts miss the auditory cues of how it was expressed. When the customer raises his voice or when the customer is angry – these are not captured in the transcripts. Speech is powerful as it contains valuable consumer insights. But these are lost when a call is not analyzed, but only a transcript is available.
This is where deep learning algorithms are presenting a revolutionary change in speech to a transcript. AI makes it more accurate for understanding the emotions, intent, relevancy, and topics discussed by the customer. With AI, it is become possible to process larger amounts of speech data quickly.
For example, see how CallMiner, a speech analysis software, transforms the Voice of Your Customers and Agents into consumer intelligence. The company makes use of Artificial Intelligence to extract insights from conversations. When customers call the call centers and talk to customer executives, there are a lot of emotions that can’t be analyzed when only the transcript is available. Leveraging AI and machine learning, it analyzes interactions across call channels. This analysis is depicted as a performance score tailored to objectives. The transcriptions are tagged with the sentiment, topic discovery, and feedback of the customer service agent.
The algorithms can provide the auditory cues needed to reveal valuable consumer insights.
Actionable CX metrics
Now you know the importance of customer experience, to measure CX, tools to measure CX, and the AI-enabled platforms that can help you to measure customer experience. But despite knowing all this, most organizations struggle to convert the data into actionable insights.
But the crux of all the AI and data is to really make a difference by implementing actionable insights.
Customer experience managers, marketing managers, and brand managers need to measure customer experience that is gathered from various sources such as social media, online forums, customer calls, and much more. But sadly, this information remains quite out of reach as teams are not equipped to extract it.
But there is nothing to worry about!
AI-based customer insights tools and platforms are emerging rapidly to assist you in your journey. Intelligent tools can customize your requirements and integrate customer data from different sources into a single customer view.
This view is a consolidated view of all the actionable insights from customer experience data. This consolidated view helps you to take important decisions relating to your brand. Ai enabled platforms to offer actionable insights that can take your customer experience program to the next level.
Take action…. Now!
Brands are focusing highly on customer experience. As a customer experience professional, you should take advantage of artificial intelligence in customer experience measurement to achieve maximum business efficiency. The high-quality actionable insights that are derived from AI are innumerable and can take your business to greater heights.