The global business paradigm is changing fast and so are changing many perceptions related to business. For example, a few years ago, companies used to consider product quality, competitive price, and customer service the essential trios for customer retention. However, now, customer experience has joined the list. Indeed, in today's time, customer experience is increasingly being touted by modern marketers across industries.
An article published in the Harvard Business Review has described ‘customer experience’ as a customer's throughout journey with a company/service provider. However, it does not mean that ‘customer experience’ is only limited to the moments when the customer is interacting with the company/service provider. Rather, it is, according to Forbes, "Cumulative impact of multiple touch points" during a long course when the customer is interacting with the company/service provider.
Now the question is: why customer experience is being touted much nowadays? The answer is simple. If an organization is able to deliver its customer a unique experience, it will ultimately result in an increase in the consumer's spending with the particular organization, thereby enabling the organization to earn the customer's loyalty to its product/service. Famous editor, Jessica Sebor, therefore said, “Loyalty is now driven primarily by a company's interaction with its customers and how well it delivers on their wants and needs."
With the advancement of modern technologies, the rising popularity of social media and the growing competition for market share, most of the companies are now exploring different ways to communicate better with their customers and add more value to their relationship.
In one of its reports, Gartner has revealed that a staggering 89%. of organizations articipated in its survey have revealed that they would compete based on customer experience by 2016. The number was 36% in 2014 and 58% in 2015. This reveals how organizations across the world are gearing up to excel in offering unmatched customer experience.
Given the growing importance of customer experience as a business priority and a key brand differentiator, organizations nowadays feel the need to manage their customers' experience throughout all the touch points, right from their call centers to digital experience to brick-and-mortar-store experience.
Here are some of the latest trends in customer experience.
In order to improve customer experience, organizations are now gearing up to cater to their customers through multiple channels. Providing seamless communications experience to their customers and making the communication process more user-friendly are the two prime mottos of customer communication department of any company. Similarly, social media is increasingly being used by companies to strengthen their bonds with customers and cater to their needs and demands at the earliest.
To create more personalized and better customer experience, thereby increasing the conversion rates, organizations are getting into the practice of collecting customer-related data from various channels and analyzing them. Data analysis helps in understanding different patterns pertaining to consumers' behavior. Therefore, companies can easily devise strategies to improve their customer experience.
What will you do if you have any queries about the product you are planning to buy? Obviously, you will google to get the answer. Considering this, several marketers are now creating ‘How-to content’ so that customers can get all product-related information on the website itself, without searching anywhere else. In 2016, it is expected that the trend of creating such content through blog, YouTube videos, and other sources will gain momentum.
These days, customer communication department in both B2B and B2C sectors are embracing the concept of Omni-channel marketing whole-heartedly. On the other hand, Voice of the customer (VoC) solutions are still popular among companies to measure their customer sentiments. Some companies now are providing co-browsing experience wherein their executives and customers can interact easily by accessing the same screen on a website. Experimenting to crate in-app personalized messages is also gaining popularity. Further, personalized emailers and ads are increasingly finding a special place for consideration when it comes to improving customer experience.
Indeed, customer experience has become an important organization skill, as it is a key factor for business success. In today's time of automation and social media, nurturing relationship with customers and caring for them have become more important than ever. Remember, an unhappy customer can easily take a toll on your business by sharing his/her negative opinions about your product/service on social media. In this context, we can quote Walt Disney, who appropriately mentioned, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
According to Gartner, about 50 percent of consumer product investments are likely to be redirected to customer experience innovations by 2017. It has also revealed that about 65 percent of large companies have a position for chief customer officer or a related role, who usually report to someone in the marketing role. These revelations indicate that customer experience is steadily emerging as an important benchmark for business success.
Usually, people tend to mix up ‘customer experience’ with ‘customer service’. Although both the things are related to each other, they are not same. Customer service is just a part of the entire equation of customer experience. To put in a nutshell, customer service refers to the process of helping customers fulfill their needs. On the other hand, customer experience refers to your customers’ perception of your organization, their interactions with your employees and their recollection of the whole process of interacting with your organization-right from the beginning to end. Therefore, it is easily understood that customer service helps in enriching customer experience but it cannot define the entire customer experience.
It's true that process orientation helps in determining customer experience. If a company assess its process from a customer viewpoint, it will result in an increase in its ability to enhance customer value. Further, it will enable the company to increase its competitiveness and satisfy their customers better.
On the other hand, with the mapping of processes, companies will be better able to reduce their non-value-adding activities and increase various value-adding activities, which will ultimately lead to better customer experience.
A company's business model is also an important factor in enhancing customer experience. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Customer loyalty and trust go a long way in enabling a business to create and maintain a competitive edge in the market. Now, the question is: how a business model determines customer experience? Business model and customer experience work in tandem. For example, using your business model, you decide how your customers will interact with your company, how they will purchase your products/ services, whether or not you need any self-service customer support and so on.
To build unmatched customer experience, it is essential to recruit the right people for customer-facing position. These days, companies are opting for workforce optimization to fulfill their two goals-one is to enhance their customers' overall experience and the other is to create a pool of talent. A recent survey has revealed that about 80% of consumers participated in the survey have revealed that helpful staff always improves their shopping experience, while 75% of participants have revealed that they prefer walking out of the store when they do not find any knowledgeable associate helping them.
It's well understood that customer experience is an important organization skill for any organization. Therefore, it is now essential for organizations to prepare their workforce with specialized knowledge and skill sets. For example, the talent management department of the organization should learn the ropes of driving workforce in a way that creates unmatched customer experience. On the other hand, the marketing department should learn how to engage their customers in a better way through omni-channel marketing and so on. Many organizations, these days, are renewing their focus on various on-job training and certification programs, which are found to be effective in equipping workforce ready for ensuring better customer experience.