Customer Experience - The Next Corporate Battleground

By Paul Aas, Loyalty Group

In the age of the empowered customer, you need your customers more than they need you. Consumers have more options than ever before and access to multiple products through a plethora of channels. Creating loyal brand advocates is no longer a matter of competing on price or product features. More so than ever before, Customer Experience is the new currency driving loyalty.

Forretningsmand klar til kamp"Customer Experience is the new battleground for companies that can no longer win Customer Loyalty based exclusively on product features (too easy to copy), selection ("I can always find an alternative product or service online"), or price ("At any given moment I can almost certainly find a lower price")."
How a leading international research company describes today's situation.

What exactly is Customer Experience (CEx)?

Customer Experience is the interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through the customer's conscious and subconscious mind.

It is a mix of the organization's rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked.
The customer measures this against his expectations through the whole customer journey and across all moments of contact (touch-points or so-called moments of truth).

However, CEx is not simply:

  • A rational experience (quick phone response, opening hours, delivery time, etc.).
  • The "what" (you do) but also about the "how" (you do it)
  • What a customer is consciously aware of; actually more than 50% of a customer experience is managed subconsciously, including how a customer feels.

CEx is about the overall perception that the customer is left with after interaction with a brand or company.

Why is it becoming so important?

In addition to earlier mentioned reasons why CEx should be put on the agenda, here are some interesting facts from around the world:

  • Compared to their competitors, companies focusing on Customer Experience generate 60% higher profit.
  • Poor Customer Experiences lead to 20% revenue loss.
  • 4 out of 5 customers are willing to pay more for a superior Customer Experience.
  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how Customers feel they are being treated.
  • 9 out of 10 customers switched brand after a poor Customer Experience.
  • A satisfied customer will tell 9 people about their experience. For dissatisfied customers, the number is 22.
  • A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service related than price- or product related.

Therefore, it is clear, that acquiring high return on the investment, made to obtain and develop customers, is imperative.

The better Customer Experiences are, the more loyal the respective customers will eventually be and the greater are the profits contributed by these customers.

Learn from the best!

Recent studies show that companies worldwide delivering superior Customer Experiences have several things in common despite operating in completely different markets and industries.

The 10 companies that scored highest on CEx lately also had presented excellent financial results throughout the last 6 months. Coincidence? - Most unlikely! Researchers found 13 common characteristics that made these companies "Best in Class". Of the 13 factors, two were related to "The Product" (what they offered), while five factors were related to both "The Performance" (how they did it) and "The Consequences" (how was it executed). All these factors "add up" to one overall factor; "Corporate Attitude".

Let us have a closer look at the characteristics of a supplier of excellent Customer Experiences and how their customers describe them:

  1. Corporate attitude
    Corporate attitude describes the organisational culture and is a sum of customer perception. Among important elements mentioned are "Putting people before profits", "Hire staff for attitude", "Paying attention to details", "Empower staff" and "Listening to and understanding customers".    
  2. They are easy to do business with (h)
    "Simple to get information, purchase and use product or service", "No need to repeat information" and "Needs are anticipated and catered for".
  3. They are helpful when I have a problem (c)
    "Listen to and understand before acting", "Resolve issues first time and quickly" and "Empower staff to make decisions".
  4. The attitude of their people (c)
    "Smile", "Good at listening", "Friendly and helpful" and "Professional and proud of what they deliver".
  5. Personalisation (c)
    "Show interest and listen", "Show that they care", "Being flexible" and "Create a feeling of respect".
  6. The product or service (w)
    "Products that give value" and "Right mix of choice, relevance, quality and innovation"
  7. They're consistent (h)
    "Match and build on positive experiences" and "Continuity in quality, performance, processes and people".
  8. The way it makes me feel (c)
    "Feeling appreciated and unique", "Being part of a community" and "Like being more than a customer".
  9. The way they treat me(c)
    "Respect", "Empathy", "Recognised as an individual" and "Consistency in treatment". 
  10. They are reliable (h)
    "Trust in product and delivery" and "Don't put own reputation at risk"
  11. They do what they promise (h)
     "Live up to expectations they set" and "Staff do what they say they'll do",
  12. They're quick (h)
    "Move at the right speed for the customer" and "Think right speed all through the customer process".
  13. The technical knowledge of their people (w)
    "Proud to use knowledge to help" and "Ability to communicate complex issues in a simple language"

It is worth noticing, that only 2 out of the 13 factors are "hard values" related to the product delivered, while the remaining factors are "soft values" related to the customer's emotions.

We know that emotional factors not only count for far more than rational factors when purchase decisions are made, but that emotional factors also dictate how people choose to treat others. With this knowledge, it will be imperative for companies seeking commercial success to educate and train engaged employees in the "science" of securing superior Customer Experiences.

Contact

If you would like to know more about how you can deliver excellent Customer Experiences, contact Senior Advisor, Paul Aas, on +356 9939 7732 or on e-mail: pa@loyaltygroup.com.mt