What do we mean when we say customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all the interactions your customers have with your business. It’s also the way customers think and feel each time they interact with your brand.
A positive experience is the key goal for any organisation that wants to gain, and keep, customers. And, as you know from your own experience as a consumer, it’s a total win-win if you get it right.
When it works, finding the right product or service is easy – and you only receive content relevant to where you’re at in your journey and what you’re looking for.
When it doesn’t work, the overall experience can be anything from clunky at best to frustrating and broken in the worst cases. Slow-loading web pages, a lack of payment options, the need to re-key information, being bombarded with emails. Pick any or all of the above.
When someone thinks about buying something, they are (consciously or not), evaluating the experience they are getting from you. They’re checking a couple of things – the ‘utility’ value and also the emotional value that they and others associate with your brand:
- Ease of use
- What do others think?
- How does this brand care for its customers?
- How does this brand make me feel?
An incredible customer experience is critical to company growth.
It’s proven to increase loyalty, retention and long term customer value. It’s not a vague ideal, but something tangible.
How do we measure customer experience?
You can measure it in a variety of ways: Customer Experience Metrics further down this paper covers this in detail, but things like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and sentiment scores will give you some insight.
You’ll hear the term ‘touchpoints’ often. In the good old days, a typical first point of contact with a business was a phone call, an event or a visit to the premises – particularly in the B2B space. However, in recent times, many more touchpoints are now digital, and usually take precedence over face-to-face. That first touchpoint is far more likely to be a social media campaign or influencer post than a coffee at the club.
That’s not to say the face-to-face experience isn’t important – of course it is. And, thankfully, these truly personal touchpoints are coming back. But digital is king. What does it mean for sales when you can’t always get in front of a customer?
Customer expectations and their role in the business
To ensure that your buyer (or prospect) becomes your customer, it is your responsibility as an integrated business to guide the way. If any touchpoint is below par, then you risk that buyer dropping off the path.
A valuable customer journey turns the spotlight on every form of communication; from that first blog post to your product description, chat function, confirmation emails and the way you respond to review.
For all businesses, of all sizes – we’re all in this together
Regardless of size, companies need to understand things from the eyes of the customer. CX vs. CS unearths the tactical considerations for establishing the customer experience, while The Buyer Journey gives you more detail on how to review your systems and processes to make it happen.
What makes creating customer experiences exciting is that we all ‘get’ it. The shorthand ‘CX’ is an umbrella for the wealth of checks and emotions we all go through every time we engage with a brand. It’s as relevant to a pre-teen making their first Xbox purchase as it is to a Financial Director looking to acquire their tenth software system. It covers B2B and B2C. It impacts businesses, organisations and the third sector alike.
But before we look at the customer journey in detail, we need to understand the difference between two key phrases. They are often used interchangeably, but are in fact quite distinct: customer experience and customer service.