Are you familiar with the term “customer centricity?” If not, it’s time to do some research. The age of customer experience has officially dawned. Delivering exceptional customer experience is becoming the most important aspect of a successful business strategy.
By the end of 2020, it’s predicted that customer experience will exceed price and product as the primary brand differentiator. This means to stay competitive, your business has to build positive experiences that distinguish your brand from your competition.
The Customer Experience Should Be Front & Center
In order to do this, your business must implement a customer-centric mentality into your strategy and shift the focus to customer experience. We throw this term around loosely. Let’s explore exactly what customer experience means and why it’s so important. To start, customer experience is defined by the way customers perceive their interactions with your business. It consists of three major components:
- The customer’s journey;
- Touchpoints the customer interacts with; and
- Customer engagement with channels on and offline.
Understanding your customer’s journey is a key piece in delivering an optimal experience. The customer journey describes all of the touchpoints your customers have with your brand in the digital and physical world. It is all about getting to know your consumers, learning their behaviors and their engagement with your business, and then refining your strategy to make their experience better in the future. An easy way to understand and optimize the journey is to create a customer journey map, which adds a visual component.
Touchpoints are a major part of the customer journey. Essentially, they are any interaction a customer has with your business, which involves the exchange of information, services, or transactions.
Customer engagement has always been and will continue to be vital to a businesses success. As a business owner, you need to make it effortless for customers to engage with you through text messages, email, on your website, social profile and so on and to be able to provide feedback — a critical component to enhancing their experience. There is no better way to improve customer experience than by hearing directly from the source — your customer.
With customer experience being at the forefront of brand differentiation, it’s critical for your business to master this tactic. Becoming a customer-centric business involves work. You will have to steer your business strategy away from price and product, and place the spotlight on your customer. Here’s how you can leverage customer experience and make your business thrive.
Customer Experience Trumps Brand
Instead of trying to sell your customer on your brand (your brand should do that for itself), sell the experience. Today, 89 percent of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. Capture the customer by delivering an unbeatable customer experience. You can try to do this by focusing on the following:
- Create a unique and memorable experience on and offline;
- Teach your customers about your service or product through blogging, a knowledge base, FAQ web page, video tutorials, and more;
- Provide personalized service and build relationships,
- Deliver fast and convenient service; and
- Use predictive analytics to offer proactive solutions to meet your customer’s needs.
These are merely suggestions, you have the freedom to get creative and have fun with it. Consider your own interactions with brands, what would you like your shopping experience to be like? What would persuade you to become a loyal customer?
Use your own preferences along with customer feedback to shape the experience you deliver. If one idea doesn’t work, refine it and try again. Your customers are paying for the experience you provide, so you have to make it worthwhile if you want to keep them.
Prioritizing the Mobile Customer Experience
Customer experience and the mobile revolution go hand in hand. With the mobile takeover, many customers choose to interact with your brand through their smartphone. You have to provide a seamless mobile experience to keep your customers engaged.
To do this, you must offer a mobile first website, customer service and communication on the go (text messages, instant messaging, live chat, Facebook, Google), interact on all social media platforms, and create a mobile app (if possible).
The more you engage with your customers and provide an ideal experience, the more likely they are to become loyal advocates for your brand. So, it comes as no surprise that 84 percent of companies who claim to be customer-centric are emphasizing the mobile customer experience.
If your business does not prioritize the mobile customer experience, you will lose business. Fifty-seven percent of customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website. Moreover, if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, 50 percent of customers will stop visiting it — even if they like the business. You are essentially throwing loyal customers away by delivering an inadequate mobile experience.
The Rise of Self-Service Help
In the digital era, people no longer want to wait to speak to a customer support representative — they turn to the internet to look up an immediate solution themselves. Long wait times are unacceptable and customers will drop your brand and move on to one of your competitors without a second thought. This has led to the rise of self-service help.
Roughly 67 percent of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. Behind us are the times where we have to wait on hold for 45 minutes to reach a person. Instead, we can simply look it up — it’s fast and delivers instant gratification.
A self-service feature has become an expectation among customers. Today, 70 percent of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. However, it must be easy to use for all customers, or else it’s pointless. Keep in mind that this kind of technology-driven experience is great most of the time, but it hasn’t replaced customer service representative altogether — a business still needs support from a representative if technology fails.
Why Omni-Channel Servicing is Essential
Your goal should be to engage with your customers across all channels. Your business needs to be accessible on all fronts. Multi-channel servicing is no longer enough. The more opportunities you give your customers to engage with you, the more they will choose to interact with your brand.
Everyone loves having a choice and omni-channel customer services does just that. It integrates text, live chat, social media, email and instant messaging to provide a cohesive experience. This allows your customer to bounce back and forth between multiple channels and still experience the same high quality customer service.
Omni-channel customer service may seem like an insurmountable task, but it’s not. Mobile commerce platforms enable you to interact with your customers across all channels from a single dashboard. It has become an effortless endeavor that captivates customers and drives business.
So, we have officially entered the age of customer experience, which means businesses must adapt to this paradigm shift to stay competitive. Companies that prioritize customer experience gained 43 percent in performance. To put it simply, your price and product are great, but experience carries more weight. Roughly 86 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. You need to take advantage of this by creating memorable experiences that matter.
There is no shortcut to instantly create an ideal experience for your customers. It takes time, research and money, but the rewards are worth it. If you want your customers to have a positive experience with your brand and become loyal customers, you have to invest in it. Sixty-two percent of companies are willing to invest to meet the changing needs of customers, are you?