Customer Experience (CX)
Customer experience (CX) is a customer contact with a company or a product, and the process of managing the customer’s experience with the company or product is customer experience management (CEM). All events experienced by customers before, during or after purchase of product or services are part of the customer experience. This article provides below details on customer experience.
- What is customer experience (CX)
- How is customer service different from customer experience?
- How is customer experience different from customer relationship (CRM)?
- How to improve the customer experience
- How to create a consistent customer experience Journey
- Changes due to a CX journey
- How to manage customer experience
- How to measure Customer experience index
- Customer experience management software
What is customer experience (CX)
In this hyper-connected world, customers interact with customers round the clock using multiple channels and they can express their experiences at real time. Their interaction can be either by talking to an agent or via apps or when buying a product online or during support. Customer’s perception of the product or services is determined by every interaction or touch point. The sum of all these interactions is called customer experience (CX) and each of these interactions impact the future customer relationship.
In the digital era, there are many touch points such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, forums, blogs etc. The process of customer interaction via multiple touchpoints creates a type of journey called digital customer experience journey. The entire story of the customer’s experience is documented as a customer journey map that does not only provide key interactions with customer but also provides information on user feelings for each of the touchpoints.
Below diagram provides the journey and touchpoints at different stages – before purchase, during purchase and after purchase of a product or service. Also shows the events that overlap across these stages.
Figure 1 – Typical touch points at each stage of the customer lifecycle
Customer experience journey identifies the experiences that consumers go through the entire customer life cycle starting from marketing to after sales support. The touchpoints experiences together with product experiences create the complete perception of the product or services. The time it takes to create this perception differs from customer to customer example could be few hours for a restaurant dinner to few weeks for a vacation resort to few years for a banking industry. A brand is created by cumulative experiences based on “how was the experience” rather than “what was experienced”.
How is customer service different from customer experience?
Customer service is what companies provide to the customer, via its people and systems or products and Customer experience is what customer receives and feels at every touchpoint via people, systems and products. Example for customer services provided on Amazon.com, it has one of the highest levels of customer loyalty although customers do not talk directly to people but because the touchpoints created an amazing customer experience.
How is customer experience different from customer relationship (CRM)?
The purpose of CRM and CX is the same, which is to improve customer relationship between customer and the company. However, CRM focusses on how the people and systems of the company work together to gather information about customers and the information is used to keep customers ongoing and long lasting. In CX, focus is on how people and systems interact with customers and how each interaction creates an event or activity that adds value to customers and all interactions together create a seamless “feel good” customer journey.
In other words CRM is an approach that deals with information related to customer behaviour – what has the customer purchased, what web pages were accessed etc. But CX is an approach and deals with customer’s reaction example how satisfied is the customer, is customer willing to recommend to a friend etc.
A combination of CRM and CX creates a powerful organization.
How to improve the customer experience
With advent of social media, individuals have a platform easily accessible to publish information so it is critical to proactively keep the customer engaged at each of the touchpoints to avoid complaints and negative reactions.
At any stage if a customer is unhappy, it is because of an event that got triggered and created a unhappy feeling, which could be because of a faulty product or delay in repair or services not as per expected. Customer service is the key to create brand loyalty so it is important to change an unhappy customer to a delighted customer. Below are the steps to transform a unhappy customer to a delighted customer.
- Make it easy for customers to complain. Create a system for unhappy customers to raise their complaints easily and available all the time, either via chats, customer care or emails etc.
- Hear to the complaint and get them into an agreeable frame of mind before providing a solution. Make them feel heard and acknowledge the situation. Instead of going into a defensive mode, it’s a good opportunity to understand the negative feedback and improve the products and customer services.
- Provide a solution as options until they have a satisfied resolution. Research shows that customers who have never had a problem with a company are less loyal than those who have had a problem satisfactorily resolved.
- Ask for a review. After few days, check back with the customer on the issue raised and affirm that they are an important customer. Ask if they are willing to provide a feedback and recommend to a friend.
Figure 2 – Steps to change unhappy customer to a delighted customer
Customers form opinions quickly, so collecting feedback immediately after each time of interaction at real time will help identify the factors important to grow your business and improve customer relationships.
How to create a consistent customer experience Journey
Delivering a consistent customer experience journey is not a difficult task, however few critical measures that make a difference are as below
- Need to know what are the needs and expectations of customers and exceed customers’ expectations at every touchpoint
- Customer relationship must be engaging. Customers have a “feel good” experience when they are engaged
- Collaboration to create a highly personalized experience
- Create innovative models to add greater value compared to competition
Changes due to a CX journey
In today’s digitally connected world, it is not only important to provide good products and customer service. In order to deliver consistent and memorable customer experience journey, it is important to strategize, design, and operationalize a process on customer experience management.
Customer experience is about creating the “feel good” experiences to their customers. We go through experiences all the time. Some experiences are created by ourselves and some experiences are created due to interaction with others and there are two types of feeling that are remembered – feel good or worst.
Consumers make most of their decisions based on the experience and their behaviours/actions are dependent on what they felt good or not.
It has been proved by large companies like Amazon, Google, Starbucks that they can increase revenue by delivering great customer experience consistently.
The customer experience creates a shift from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty. These experiences direct consumers regarding next buying decision.
How to manage customer experience
The biggest challenge is how to measure and manage customer experience, when the customer base is increasing at a fast rate. It is essential to create a process for managing customer experience as part of the organization’s DNA.
The desired factors to improve customer experience should be identified such as
- what is relevant to customers
- what do they expect from the company
- what is important for them as compared to what they want
Introduce these parameters in system and monitor the performance. In case any of the below are observed, then there is a need to put efforts in the direction or on parameters where performance has to be improved.
- Customer base reducing
- Market share going down
- Cost to get new customers increasing
- Reduced number of recommendations
Companies should conduct touchpoint surveys and relationship surveys to collect data for analytics and generate a CX map and measure CX index to identify areas that have to be strengthened.
How to measure Customer experience index
Forrester’s CX Index found that 73% of companies say improving customer experience is a priority. But only 1% of organizations deliver an excellent experience for their customer. Majority of the companies don’t know their customer experience index and this could lead to a disaster. On the other hand companies that measure the customer experience proactively will help them grow their brand loyalty.
Below are the metrics that companies use to measure their customer experience index
- Net promoter score (NPS) – NPS is the percentage of your customers who would/would not recommend your company to others like friends, family etc
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) – the average satisfaction score that customers rate for an experience. It is measured by a survey asking them to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of “Very dissatisfied” to “Very satisfied.”
- Customer Effort score (CES) – provides information on effort spent by customers to accomplish a task. Can be achieved by response to a question on a scale ranging from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly Agree”.
- First Response time – Time taken to receive initial response for customer compliant
- Average Handling Time – Average time taken to resolve the customer issue from start to finish
- Customer Churn Rate (CCR) – It is the percentage of customers who do not make a repeat purchase or repeat request for service.
- Improvement in CX index will ultimately cultivate a healthier customer relationship and help you be above your competition.
Customer experience management software
Customer experience management software provides functionalities to monitor the performance of company’s contact channel, Manage and improve interactions with customers on social media, extract meaningful data from text based interactions, identify emotional states of customers, provide insights based on online analytics and data. Below are few of the customer experience management software:
Zendesk, IBM Tealeaf, Totango, Clicktale, SaaSquatch Referral Marketing Suite, Freshdesk, Satmetrix NPX, ResponseTek, Adobe experience manager, Kana, Clarabridge, Medallia, SAS Adaptive Customer Experience, Gemius, Hubspot, Maxymiser, UserZoom, UX360, Usabilitytools