The notion of customer service has been reinvented: Now, everyone’s talking about customer experience — or CX.
Customer Service Versus Customer Experience
The shift in perspective is pivotal: Customer service focuses on the provider, CX focuses on the receiver.
Customer service describes a limited sphere: specific activities in which company and customer interact. It begins at first contact, and ends when the prospect makes a purchase or stomps off in frustration.
CX Matters in the Digital Age
On the other hand, CX is all-encompassing. It’s a narrative of every step of the customer journey, from the first moment they become aware of a company to the relationship they have with the product after buying it. A customer can experience excellent customer service, but end up with a product that is junk, or just wrong for them, and that ultimately means a negative CX. Conversely, a customer could have a major snafu with a hotel reservation or a flawed product, but a thoughtfully executed CX will turn it into a positive outcome.
“Customer experience is defined by the experience customers have, remember and share,” writes best-selling business author Brian Solis. It lasts longer and matters more than customer service.
Improved CX a Universal Business Strategy
Focusing on the CX is a crucial trend in the world of business today. The American Marketing Association (AMA) cites a Forrester study stating more than 90% of senior executives describe improving CX as a “top strategic priority.” Similarly, 90% of North American firms surveyed in 2014 aspired to be “CX leaders” within the next three years, according to a study by the Temkin Group.
These are big ambitions. Why has CX become such a focal point?
“It’s been reported that customers will pay up to 25% more for a similar product if they believe they’re going to get an exceptional experience,” writes Solis. That’s a pretty good reason!
Additionally, technology has enabled companies to be connected and responsive for much more of the customer journey than previously. Emails and automation, social media and digital customer reviews have radically transformed the relationship between buyer and seller.
CX — a Lazer Focused Vision on Customer Perspective
Even more so than with customer service, the business intending to excel at CX has to really live its commitment to the cause. Lip service won’t be adequate: it’s necessary to become intimately acquainted with what customers really value, and apply people, passion and resources to upgrading their experience. CX can only be measured from the customer’s perspective, and it’s the sum of their experience throughout their relationship with the company. That might be five minutes at Subway, or a lifetime with a car insurance company.
Bottom line — CX is entirely dependent on customers’ emotional reactions for the totality of the customer journey. For this reason, companies have to embrace a holistic approach: every process, policy, technology and interaction which touches the customer matters, so they have to be designed to work together.
Achieving great CX demands total focus on the customer’s perspective, identifying what may be missing or broken. It also requires awareness of other players in the field, and beyond. You’re competing with their satisfaction in their lives as consumers as a whole. They’ve flown SouthWest Airlines, they’ve shopped at Zappo’s, they’ve hailed an Uber — all these experiences influence the standards they inhabit.
CX: Ambitious, and Necessary
Sound big? It is. Perfecting the customer experience is bound to be a process, not a destination, but the payoff in terms of loyalty and goodwill ensures that it’s a journey worth taking. If you want help defining or redefining your customer journey, give us a call; we’ll work with you to identify ways you can improve or develop your CX and, ultimately, improve your client retention rate. Or, click here to set up a time to meet with one of our automation experts to talk about other ways automation can improve your client retention!