Customer experience (CX) can become the ultimate competitive advantage and differentiating factor when organizations do it well.
Companies that focused on the CX before the pandemic arrived were ahead of the game. Those that were not jumped on the bandwagon to initially survive and hopefully thrive.
Some experts have said CX is the most important competitive advantage a company can have. CX involves the overall journey of the customer from an emotional standpoint, including every interaction with the product.
Planning your CX journey is crucial to the success of your business. It can benefit from three components in particular: effective data to guide you, a team collaboratively identifying customer wants and delivering them, and effective technology to provide the immediacy and convenience your customers expect wherever they encounter brands.
Customer service, on the other hand, is sometimes mistakenly confused as being the same as CX. It isn’t. Customer service focuses on direct interaction of the customer with the brand, such as viewing a commercial, reading a magazine ad or online ad or visiting a website. It is part – an important part – of the total CX.
Multiple channels of marketing all focusing on the customer as the center of the strategy are part of the CX. And customers want to have a great experience on all the channels where they encounter a brand. The CX actually considers both indirect and direct interactions with a brand, even if they are just perceptions of the brand that are preconceived.
A vehicle being out of alignment is problematic and provides a shaky ride. The same is true of alignment within the CX journey. The expectations of customers need to align with the experiences they are having with your brand. Companies need to figure out what customers want and then make solutions to provide them with those products or experiences. A good customer experience can lead to three competitive advantages and positive outcomes: increased profits, greater customer retention and even the creation of products and services for those customers.
Companies with a positive CX journey have six times the ability to retain customers, according to a Zen Desk survey. These days, there are greater expectations of brands. To continually stay ahead of the competition, companies are spending more money on technology and training to be able to effectively compete in the CX arena. And the greater the experience a guest has, the more loyalty the guest will have to the brand.
Satisfied customers assist your brand with attracting new customers through testimonials on social media and word of mouth. Regardless of their intent to remain brand loyal, the pandemic and world factors have made people weary. Their fuses are shorter. What once resulted in a shoulder shrug can be a really big deal these days, reinforcing the belief that you need to earn your customer’s business each and every day. As with any relationship, once trust is gone, it is hard to regain.
Companies can do a decent job of fixing a concern, whether it is offering a gift card, free shipping, a bonus item, etc. to a dissatisfied customer as the situation warrants. If handled correctly, the customer may be even more enthused about the brand than if everything had been handled perfectly. A simple example is a hotel guest casually mentioning upon checkout that she was surprised that her room had not been made up when she returned after sightseeing all day. The hotel associate apologized and immediately discounted the guest’s entire stay by half. This service recovery made the guest more pleased with the brand than if the services had been performed as initially planned.
The CX journey can guide consumers to the outcome desired, especially when combined with research beforehand that can help everyone make better business decisions along the way.