The only way to establish and maintain a competitive advantage is with an obsession for customer experience. How customers are treated by your business today will determine how they chose to interact with you tomorrow.
Providing a positive customer experience is a make-or-break proposition, with the ability to influence future behaviors in several key ways:
- Their willingness to consider you for another purchase. Lee Resources has discovered that 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with a company again. But companies which deliver a successful customer experience will be rewarded; Harvard Business Review reports that 80% of satisfied customers have no intention of leaving a company which they currently do business with.
- The likelihood they will recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues. According to a recent Gallup Study, customers are more likely to tell others about a business which provides friendly, personalized service than they are one which provides just fast or generic service. And the importance of word-of-mouth shouldn’t be overlooked: 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.
- Their reluctance to switch to a competitor. American Express reports that 3 in 5 American consumers (59%) would be all too willing to switch to another brand if it could provide a better experience. And Genesys reports that customers are far less likely to defect when they experience better customer support, typically defined as the ability to provide competent assistance (according to 78% of customers) and the ability to personalize that assistance (according to 38% of customers).
In other words, if you want to make the next sale, experience positive word of mouth, and keep your customers from leaving you, it's unlikely that anything else you do will matter more than delivering a superior customer experience.
Your Customer, Your Partner
But how can you design products and services differently so that customer needs are central to the process? And how do you know which aspects of your customer experience customers value most? What exactly do you need to do to improve that experience for each customer?
Businesses as diverse as Amazon, Timberland, and Brainshark rely on customer feedback to answer these questions, feedback which is necessary in order to know precisely who their customers are and what they are looking for.
These businesses see their customers as collaboration partners who help them to grow and thrive. And systematically involving their customers at every step in the buying journey makes it easier for them to improve and perfect their customer journeys.
Feedback surveys, an especially efficient way each of these companies gather customer knowledge, provides insights into various aspects of the customer experience:
- What customers think about new or existing product and service ideas.
- How satisfied customers are and what should be done to further increase satisfaction levels.
- Who the most profitable customers are and what influences them to complete a transaction.
To generate as complete a picture as possible of the customer and their experience, surveys typically ask customers to provide insights into the following five areas:
1. How they heard about your company, making it easier to identify specific channels on which marketing efforts should be focused.
2. How likely they are to recommend you to someone else - and why - so you can gauge your brand loyalty and competitiveness.
3. What they would miss most if they could no longer do business with you, making it easier to identify your strengths and create quality measures so you can maintain those strengths.
4. What prevents them from doing business with you, a question which will help you identify common obstacles customers face when interacting with you.
5. What you can do to make their experience easier, enabling you to provide an, even more, seamless customer journey.
Knowing what your customers expect and how well you are meeting those expectations is the first step towards designing an experience that delivers real value to your customers. And the more value you deliver, the greater retention and advocacy you will see.
Customer Feedback, The Foundation for Success
A customer feedback survey is a necessary touch-point for it enables your customers to influence the experience they have with you. Customers, who have increasingly become used to consumer-centric business models, demand a high-level of personalized engagement with all businesses they interact with. In fact, McKinsey reports that the majority of buying experiences (70%) are based on how the customer thinks he or she is being treated. They certainly won’t think twice about leaving you for a competitor if you are unable to provide what they are looking for.
Customers expect businesses to recognize and respond to their needs but the only way a business can do this is with customer feedback, which provides businesses the knowledge they need to evolve their products and services to meet their customers’ changing expectations. Implementing a proactive feedback strategy to target customers with relevant products and pain-free services is the only way to strengthen customer loyalty and develop a lasting competitive edge.