More than ever, customers want to be treated with respect. They simply do not want to do business with a company which doesn’t have their best interests in mind and isn’t willing to go the extra mile to deliver exactly what they want.
There’s just no way around it: the ability to deliver a consistent, high-level customer experience is a make-or-break proposition for today’s businesses. Study after study shows a strong correlation between customer experience and business success:
- When customers are dissatisfied with a business, 13% of them will tell 15 or more people that they are unhappy. On the other hand, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.
- 89% of customers have become frustrated due to inefficient customer support, the sort of bad experience that has caused 67% of customers to defect to a competitor who could provide a more customer-friendly alternative.
- Other common problems which cause customers to abandon a business include: feeling undervalued (53%); inability to access multi-channel support (45%); and having to exert moderate-to-high levels of energy to find an answer or resolve a problem (59%).
Businesses pay a price for delivering a sub-par customer experience, losing an estimated annual $41 billion. However, businesses that deliver exactly what their customers are looking for are rewarded; 74% of consumers have spent more money due to good customer service.
Do You Know What Your Customers Want?
Unless you are directly engaging your customers in a conversation, asking them how you can deliver a better experience, there’s a good chance you aren’t: Bain and Company reports that 80% of companies believe they are delivering a “superior” customer experience while only 8% of their customers agree.
According to Gartner, the companies which are most dedicated to delivering a superior experience – and the ones who are most successful at doing so – are those who directly reach out to their customers. These businesses are implementing customer experience improvements which begin with the collection and analyses of customer feedback. The feedback provides them with insights into how their customers actually think and behave, making it easier to plan, create, and improve the customer experience for maximum payoff.
Customer feedback can shed light on every stage of the customer’s journey:
- Where did they first hear about you? What are they hoping to accomplish by doing business with you?
- What encouraged or discouraged them from doing business with you? What works well for them? At the same time, what obstacles did they face? Is cost a factor? Do they find your delivery or your return policy problematic?
- What questions did they have as they moved through each stage of their buying journey? What questions could you have proactively answered to eliminate points of friction?
- How streamlined is your experience? Are you suggesting other relevant products? Are you providing the best product/service descriptions? Are you making it easy to compare products and services?
86% of senior-level marketers say that it is absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey. They recognize that satisfaction on customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction. Gathering information about each step in the journey every time a customer interacts with you will go a long way towards helping you design and deliver a better overall experience.
Customer Experience, The New Battlefield
Thanks to research conducted by Walker Information we know that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. 89% of businesses are soon expected to compete mainly on customer experience, with 50% of those businesses already redirecting their time and money to implement customer experience improvements.
These businesses have figured out the key to long-term success. In order to improve your customer experience, your businesses must make every effort to know your customers’ expectations and behaviors better than ever before. You must gather feedback at each step in the customer journey to better understand and measure their needs and wants. Using feedback from your customers will not only help you design a more relevant, efficient customer experience; it will also make your customers feel valued, giving them one less reason to leave you for a competitor.
Businesses that take customer experience seriously will stand out from the competition. And even though implementing changes to improve customer experience may cost time and money, your efforts will pay off. If you put your customers first, they are likely to return the favor, remaining loyal customers and brand advocates for years to come.