Why are companies - like Airbnb, Netflix, and Amazon - so successful and gain millions of new customers every year? The answer is simple: They have a sharp focus on customer experience.
Redefining what customer experience is has allowed them to enter an established market and completely dismantle the status quo. The excellent customer experience is the basis of their success and the reason why these companies could establish a leading position in their industries. Instead of focusing on profits, bottom-lines, new products or services, they provided their customers with the same product or service but in a more efficient way. The customer experience became more convenient and simplified which led to a better overall experience.New Level of Customer Service
- Understanding your customers
- Anticipating their needs
- Predicting their behavior
- Satisfying their desires almost before they know what they want
- Emphasis on how your customers actually experience your business
- A great customer experience paves the way for customer loyalty
- Focus is no longer on products and technology, but on other customers and their ratings as well
- Navigates through an omni-channel route with several contact points established on different media: online options, comparison websites, social networks, chat, call center, shops
Today, customers expect to:
- Get customized products or tailored services
- Be treated like a person, not a number
- Receive personalized offers
- Have orders and service requests addressed in real-time (immediate responsive service)
- Get new products / innovations more frequent than ever before
- Provide personal data in exchange for a better product / service
Some organizations might not be aware of all the different ways customers interact with them. Today customer experience has a tremendous impact on purchase decisions.
This is shown in the study "Experience is everything: Here's how to get it right," for which PwC interviewed around 15,000 consumers in twelve countries, from 2017/2018.
Here are some interesting figures:
Q: When it comes to making purchase decisions, how important is customer experience in choosing between options?
That clearly shows customer experience should be managed in a way it gets constantly improved, especially as companies are always in a global competition. If the customer get a great experience, it's easier to make a decision on buying a product.
Q: How much (price premium) would you pay for the following product or service if the company provides a great customer experience?
- Customer experience is the result of the customer's exposure or interaction with the people, processes, technologies, products, services and other outputs of a company.
- Customer experience depends on different factors and is based on emotions, trust, relationships and expectations.
- A positive interaction between a customer and a company generates a happy customer and a happy customer becomes a loyal customer, who is supporting the revenue of the company in the long run.
In addition to positive customer experiences, there are also bad customer experiences. Mostly, it is bad customer experiences that stay unrecognized by companies. Companies often don't realize that they are creating bad customer experiences with their standardized processes as they focus on the smooth execution of their internal processes. In doing so, it is often neglected to put oneself in the customer's shoes to include their point of view.
So, what characterizes a bad customer experience?
- A customer orders a product from an online e-commerce store, experiences a problem with it, and learns that they must return the product themselves.
- When it is time-consuming for the customer to solve their problem
- Having to explain the same issue to multiple customer service agents.
- When the customer discovers after the purchase in store that they would have received a discount online.
IKEA has been offering self-service checkouts for years to reduce waiting times at other checkouts.
However, instead of leaving customers to their own devices and thus causing chaos and longer waiting times, there are employees who stand in the checkout area and provide friendly and informative support for helpless looking customers.
Why is this so extraordinary? In the UK, the first self-service checkouts in supermarkets were equipped with unpleasantly loud alarms. As soon as a customer entered something incorrectly or otherwise had problems the alarm would go off. After initial enthusiasm, these cash registers were used less and less. In IKEA's case, help is always available without customers being exposed to a loud alarm. Especially questions about vouchers or discounts can be answered quickly and discreetly.The Impact of Improving Customer Experience
Focusing on customer needs first has a huge impact on the entire company. A positive customer experience not only makes a customer happy, but accomplishes so much more. So what is the power of improving Customer Experiences?
Many business people ask themselves the same question every day, but often they fail to look at it from the customer's perspective. If a customer can get the same product at the same price from Store A and Store B, but Store A has unfriendly staff, disorganized shelves, and a confusing website that lacks information about its products, the customer is more likely to choose Store B just because there's a more pleasant experience. However, if you are store A, how do you know the reasons why you lost the customer? How can Customer Experiences be improved?
Customer journey maps are the best way to try to answer that question.