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    What is Customer Experience?

    Customer enjoying a great customer experience

    Modern customers no longer base their loyalty solely on price or product, but rather the experience they receive from a company, the ability for organisations to provide a consistent and high-quality customer experience has never been more vital.  

    So, what exactly do we mean by customer experience?

    Customer experience definition

    Customer experience, also known as CX, refers to your customers’ holistic perception of your business or brand, based on their experiences with it. This includes all the interactions they have ever had with you across all aspects of their buyers' journey.

    In this blog post we’ll give you a solid overview of customer experience, looking at why it’s so important, the touchpoints that make up customer experience, what great customer experience looks like and how to measure it.

    Why customer experience matters

    When you consider the growing number or interactions and touchpoints that the average customer has with a brand, it’s not hard to appreciate why customer experience is so important.

    While people remember great experiences, they also remember the bad ones and are more likely to tell others about those that are negative. A negative comment spread by word of mouth is bad enough, but these days it only takes a single bad experience for a customer to quickly share this with hundreds more people through social media or review sites with just a few taps on a mobile device.

    The internet also provides customers with a plethora of alternative options to choose from, as well as the resources they need to form an educated and informed opinion about why an alternative purchase could meet their requirements better than yours.

    Then there is also the cost of acquiring new customers against that of keeping existing ones. When you consider the general rule of thumb - that it costs around 5 times more to get a new customer than to retain one - it makes sense to keep existing customers happy.

    The ability to provide an outstanding customer experience is critical to the sustained growth of any organisation. This is because a positive experience promotes loyalty, helps you to retain customers, and encourages brand advocacy. Your customers are also the best resource you have for growing your brand awareness in a positive way. So, it’s in your best interests to keep them satisfied.

    Customer experience touchpoints

    While traditional channels such as in-store, face to face and phone are still important; the internet and mobile technologies have created an explosion of touchpoints enabling customers to experience your products, services and staff in new ways.

    Emails, websites, apps, and chat bots, live chat, VR to SMS, QR codes and social media channels - all can be easily accessed by customers from their mobile device. Today’s consumers are no longer tied to a single channel and will typically choose from a growing number of different online and offline touchpoints during their interaction with a brand.

    It’s why the popularity of customer experience management (CXM) has grown, as organisations try to establish ways of better managing these customer interactions and build a stronger and more positive customer experience.

    So, what is customer experience management?

    Customer experience management definition

    The definition of customer experience management is about the management of customer interactions through each physical and digital touchpoint in order to deliver personalised experiences that drive brand loyalty and increase revenue

    From sales and account management to service and support. When you also consider the many teams and departments your customers can interact with during the lifecycle of their journey with you, this makes monitoring, managing and enhancing these interactions even more crucial.

    But to be able to do this better, it’s vital to be able to collect feedback at every touchpoint, so you can better understand the quality of customer experience you’re delivering throughout the customer journey, and identify any points where you need to make improvements. And the most effective way to do this is through an online survey.

    From CRM and ERP to field service and email marketing systems. Once you have your survey platform in place, you should then look to the systems used by your teams and leverage application programming interfaces (APIs), Zapier or native integrations to connect these systems to your survey platform, to enable short survey feedback loops to be triggered and data collected at any stage or touchpoint.

    If you can do this, you’ll be well on the way to delivering a higher level of customer experience.

    But what is a is great customer experience exactly?

    We’ll go on to explore this next.

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    What does a great customer experience look like?

    To answer this, we first need to get to the root of what it takes to deliver a great customer experience. And the customer focused experience is at the heart of this.

    So, what do we mean by this?

    Definition of customer focused experience

    Customer focused experience is about doing everything you can to deliver what your customers most want and love. It essentially refers to organisations that put the needs of their customers first and foremost and can demonstrate that customer experience matters throughout their organisation and at every step of their customers’ journey with them.

    To explain this even better, think about a customer’s first point of contact with a company, which typically involves interacting with an employee - either through visiting a store or speaking over the phone. While this gives you a good opportunity to deliver great customer service, this only serves as one aspect of the entire customer experience.

    For example, if you book a vacation on the phone and the person you are speaking with is friendly and helpful, that’s good customer service. By contrast the customer experience typically involves a number of different touchpoints encompassing the whole experience. So, in the vacation example, a great customer experience could consist of getting complimentary airport transfers with your tickets when you receive them, a welcome glass of champagne waiting for you when you arrive at the hotel’s reception, and a free of charge upgrade to a suite when you find your room isn’t ready.

    At this point, we’re better able to see what a great customer experience looks like. From being friendly, clear, helpful and supportive to always listening, continually improving and delivering ever more value. A great customer experience is about going above and beyond what your customers are expecting.

    Companies with great customer experiences typically report having higher customer referral rates and customer satisfaction. This means higher customer loyalty and retention. These customers will speak highly of you and want to return, because you made them feel good and made their experience enjoyable.

    Next time

    So now we've defined what customer experience is, why it matters, what some of the common touchpoints are and exactly what a great customer experience looks like, in part 2, we’ll explore how customer experience is measured and why you might want to develop a customer experience strategy. Stay tuned.

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    About Author

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    Phil Cleave

    Phil is part of the Content team at SmartSurvey and has over 20 years experience in the PR and Comms sector writing for Tech Companies.

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