Many companies battle with improving with customer satisfaction. A well thought-out customer experience can be an incredibly simple, but useful tool in increasing customer retention and satisfaction.
Customer Experience (CX) refers to every point of interaction and experience between a potential customer and a company. It is the journey the customer sets upon with the company in terms of employees, processes, services and products.
All of these encounters influence the perception of the company that is being formed in the mind of the consumer. Ensuring high quality, and positive experiences along this journey, the customer will associate the product, company or brand with excellence and superiority.
WHY DO WE CARE?
Although it seems rather obvious, many companies tend to ignore the consumer’s journey and focus solely on the end result. Yes, it is imperative to have a functioning and perfected service or product, however that innovative product or service can leave a bitter taste if the total customer experience is negative. Positive customer experiences lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat sales, while negative experiences will deter the customer from future business no matter how good the product or service is.
THE GOALS OF ENHANCED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Customer experiences are designed to evoke engaging interaction between companies and consumers and blur the corporate lines, creating two-way channels of communication and stronger relationships.
In order to ensure captivating interactions we should concentrate on the four pillars of customer experience. Cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social.
Reaching the customer in a cognitive sense means ensuring the customer feels like they know the company personally. Does the customer know the company values? Vision? Mission? Name of the salesperson they are in contact with? If the answer to these is yes we are off to an exceptional start.
Evoking emotion from the customer is equally important. Does the customer truly enjoy their entire purchasing journey? Do they like the product? Do they look forward to new launches and campaigns? These are all necessary questions to ask ourselves when managing the customer experience.
It is impossible to manage the customer experience if we are out of touch of the behavior of the customer, thus making it crucial to ask ourselves questions such as how often does the customer visit our website? How much time do they spend there?
Humans are pack animals. We are still to this day very tribal and rely heavily on communities and clubs. Engaging the customer socially should be a no-brainer. Great customer experience should encourage more social interactions. Does the customer like our social media pages? Do they join the conversation on our pages? Are we joining the conversation with our customers on our pages?
Asking ourselves these questions can drastically simplify the process of managing customer experience and help point to the path that we need to take to ensure the best possible journey for the customer.
THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE CUSTOMER
Sometimes we get too focused on the corporate side of things and forget what the customer sees. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer and try to view the experience from their perspective.
To continue the journey analogy the customer experience can be divided into:
1. Planning the trip - How is the customer finding us when doing research?
2. Purchase - How easy and accessible are our products and services?
3. Departure - Is the customer enjoying our products and services?
4. Return - What kind of feedback are we getting from our customers? How are we maintaining our relationships with our customers?
5. Next trip - What are we doing to ensure the customer chooses our product or service again?
THE THREE MILESTONES OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
To further simplify the customer experience, let’s break down the different milestones of the customer journey.
The first is a touchpoint. Touchpoints are seen as every point of contact between customer and company. These can be both physical and virtual. The customer walking into our store is a touchpoint. The customer visiting the web-store is a touchpoint. The customer seeing an advertisement or flyer of our company is a touchpoint. Usually this is the first interaction between the two, and as we all know, nothing is more important than a great first impression.
The second milestone is the “moment-of-truth”. This happens at the different touchpoints. The customer starts forming their judgements and attitudes towards the company, for better. . . or worse. We should be committed to creating positive emotions with every single interaction with a customer.
The last milestone is sufficient customer engagement. Engaged customers become more committed to the company and its products, increasing both customer retention and customer loyalty. This should be our end goal.
THE CHEAT SHEET
To tie everything up, let's finish with a quick and easy customer experience “how-to” cheat sheet we can always refer back to.
How to enhance customer experience:
Work towards real time communication from customers and employees.
Thrive to build meaningful connections and relationships with the customer.
Align the customer journey with the three milestones of customer experience.
Push to maintain a customer-centric philosophy in the company.
Thanks for joining the journey. Keep evolving and maintain that competitive edge in this crazy world.
- Henrik Puikkonen, AXW Digital