‘We all like to think that what we offer is so unique that it should sell itself. In reality, most customers see little difference between product offerings.’ BARE shares an article by Andy Steuer for Forbes on How to Keep Unconscious Bias from Sabotaging Customer Experience Success.

‘Many competitors have similar features and offer similar quality. In this era of transparency, it’s harder than ever to compete on pricing. Customers have become accustomed to immediate access, instant answers, overnight delivery and free returns.

A fancy marketing campaign can’t overcome these realities. What successful companies are finding is that the key differentiator is customer experience. In fact, according to a recent survey by Dimension Data, 8 in 10 companies recognize customer experience as the No. 1 indicator of strategic performance.

Why Customer Experience Management Is Important

Customers today are no longer as brand loyal as they used to be. They shop around more than ever, can easily compare products online and have increasingly high expectations.

If someone has a bad experience with your company at any point, it could mean the end of the relationship. A 2013 study by Dimensional Research revealed that 59% of customers said they’d leave for good after having a bad experience. And more than half said they’d go to a direct competitor.

A great customer experience leads to strong word-of-mouth. We all know the best form of advertising is an endorsement from a trusted friend. In the social world we live in, people like to share positive and negative experiences — 83% of consumers surveyed by Nielsen say they trust endorsements and referrals from people they know. In addition, they spend more. The lifetime value for a referred customer is 25% higher, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing.

Continuing to provide a positive customer experience can pay dividends for years to come. A study by Monetate found that returning customers have a lower bounce rate and higher conversion rate.

The goal of customer experience management is to optimize every interaction from the customer’s perspective to build trust, retention and brand loyalty.

Customer Experience Vs. Customer Service

Many people confuse customer experience and customer service. While one can impact the other, they really are separate things.

Customer service is the connection you have with the customer before and after the sale, including solving problems and dealing with questions and concerns.

Think of all the ways customers journey through the sales funnel and how that experience shapes their impression:

  • Does it create an emotional connection?
  • Does it project quality and trust?
  • When they find the product or service they want, is it priced affordably?
  • If they look at reviews online, are the reviews positive?
  • When they purchase, is the delivery or implementation easy?
  • If they have a problem, is it resolved quickly?
  • Can they reach you across the many channels consumers use today (phone, email, chat, social media)?

Customer experience encompasses every touch point a customer will have with your organization. To deliver a superior customer experience, organizations must take a holistic approach. It’s not delegated to a department — it is a culture that must be pervasive across an organization.

Creating A Superior Customer Experience Strategy

For companies, developing a strategy that provides a superior customer experience starts with defining the vision.

1. Define your customer experience vision.

In every area of your business, customers should be at the forefront of your thinking. Objectively look at your company from the customer’s point of view. It takes a committed mindset, and it has to come right from the top.

A good starting point is to talk to your customers, listen in on customer support calls or host small focus groups with potential customers to see how they rate you on each touch point. It’s critical to map the customer process from their point of view to see whether you are meeting the mark and where you can improve.

2. Understand your customer needs.

Nothing beats talking to customers directly. You also need to talk to your internal resources as well. What are your sales teams and support teams hearing? Call your support line and see how long you sit on hold and whether the person answering is upbeat and committed to solving your problem. Or survey callers to your support line to see if their problem was resolved and if the process worked for them.

3. Share the vision across your organization.

It’s not enough to have the best products or services, you have to create the best experience. This customer-centric approach has to sit on top of your organization, and everybody in your company has to walk the walk. From marketing to sales to customer service, everything and everyone should be aligned.

Build a dashboard that gives you key performance indicators around metrics that are important to your customer experience, and share the dashboard with your team members so everyone is in the loop. As the old adage goes, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

4. Create customer connections.

Most people believe they make logical decisions based on analysis. In fact, we know emotions play a significant impact and, in many cases, determine our decisions.

A study published by the Harvard Business Review found customer value significantly increases as the customer becomes more emotionally connected. Those emotions shape the overall feeling about a company that can be the underlying factor in buying decisions.

5. Measure consistently.

Once you have developed the vision and created the framework for how you will deliver great customer experiences, it’s important to consistently measure yourself by asking customers and employees for feedback on a regular basis.

It takes a consistent approach to measure, test and set up accountability systems to make and maintain cultural change. Successful companies have customer experience testing and training as part of their core DNA.

In every decision you make, put your customers first. Aggressively look for places where you may be falling short and improve. Customer experience can be the key differentiator in gaining new customers, maintaining current customers and building brand loyalty.’

Today, BARE International sets the industry standard as one of the largest independent providers of customer experience research, data, and analytics for companies worldwide. BARE’s customer experience research can provide you with critical data to make meaningful business decisions. Ask us how.

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Customer Experience Research & Insights by BARE International

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