According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, up from 36% just four short years ago. In fact, Steve Cannon President and CEO of Mercedes Benz USA stated that “Customer experience is the new marketing”.
When companies fail to provide a positive customer experience, today’s consumers vote with their feet. And, they are telling others on their way out. According to Esteban Kolsky, 67% of customers mention bad experiences as a reason for churn. Even though unhappy consumers might be vocal, a significant percentage will not say a word, they will just leave.
Kolsky believes customers chose and validate their own experience. According to McKinsey, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. In other words, companies can’t offer the experience, however, they must provide the combination of resources that will enable the customer to do what they want, when they want, however they want. Today consumers have an unprecedented level of options. Brands are realizing customer expectations are continually changing requiring vigilance and agility.
I am noticing a shift in the conversations about the customer experience. Instead of having to be convinced of the value of a differentiating customer experience, most marketers are now focusing on optimizing the customer experience. If you are interested in designing a customer experience you can start here.
Here are 4 tips that can help.
Focus on Journey Segments
We tend to talk about the customer journey as though it’s a singular experience. In fact, the journey is actually a series of small excursions based on the problem or need that is being addressed. The needs may fall into certain obvious categories based on factors like the pre-purchase consideration based on the length or complexity of the buying cycle, the size of the investment required to purchase or maintain the product service or other factors related to using the product or service once it has been purchased.
While one has to focus on these more obvious categories, there may be a number of other less obvious opportunities. For example, start to focus on specific problems or challenges that need to be addressed. Pay attention to consumer questions or frustrations. Following are a few suggested questions to ask; you’ll probably think of many more.
Can your customers easily find the information they are searching for?
Are there processes that take too long? Remember to ask this question from the customer’s perspective, not what seems reasonable to a particular department within your organization!
Are there obvious questions we could answer before our customers have to ask?
Can our customers get their problems resolved with a single phone call or contact?
Reduce the Complexity
Most, if not all, complexity is created by brands not customers. I realize that there may be necessary, even good, reasons for complexity based on the nature of the product or service. However, complexity is often created for the convenience or efficiency of the brand. For example, different departments may require the same information and so the customer may have to repeat the same information for each department.
Here are some suggested questions.
Are we asking customers to provide information we already have? If yes, then how could we access this information for them?
Are we using all of the information we are requesting? If no, then why are we asking? If yes, how are we using it?
Do customers know what to do next? Ask this question of every possible interaction.
Personalize the journey
Marketers and consumers realize the importance of a personalized and relevant experience. It’s always been an important component of marketing. However, in an increasingly fragmented and noisy landscape, it’s vital.
Marketers believe that technology will be an important key to scaling a more relevant personal experience. While I believe an individually unique experience should be a goal, I agree that it doesn’t have to be completely unique.
According to emarketer, some of the benefits of a personalized experience are higher response and engagement rates, more timely and relevant interactions and greater customer affinity for word-of-mouth.
Consumers are interested in experiences that are relevant, easy, and seamless. They also want an experience that allows them to shop or buy when and where they choose.
Here are some questions.
When was the last purchase?
Do we make any suggestions for other related products/services?
How can we make repurchases easier and more convenient?
Can our customers control when and how we communicate with them?
Do we make helpful suggestions for finding and using our products or services?
If a customer initiates a purchase on one of our channels can they easily continue and complete on another?
Although you will need to tailor these questions to your particular business, start with a “how can I help you?” mindset. Customers can quickly detect authenticity or the lack of it, so look for ways to be helpful.
Another effective tool is listening to your customers. Neal Schaffer explains social listening here.
By far, the most requested improvement from customers was “better human service” (source: Genesys Global Survey). This is probably one of the most polarizing elements. Everyone has multiple horror stories of poor, rude or incompetent service. Sometimes humans are involved, other times the challenge is trying to find a human!
According to The Global CX Wakeup Call Report 45% of customers couldn’t remember having a recent successful customer experience. Most failures were related to disappointing customer service: 35% of survey respondents experienced poor response times; 30% said the employee they contacted was poorly trained; 31% said the employee they spoke to wasn’t empowered to help; 29% of customers received inaccurate or conflicting information when they did talk to customer service representatives.
While training and motivating staff is key, don’t forget about empowering customers. 90% of consumers now expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal; 60% of consumers have a more favorable view of the brand if their self-service offering is mobile-responsive. Source: 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report.
Here are a few questions.
What is our mobile experience like?
How could we improve our employee training?
Do our associates feel they are equipped and empowered?
Ask your associates “what’s one thing we could improve?”
A follow up question to the above “what’s one thing we should stop doing?”
Based on a survey by Lee Resources, 80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service while 8% of people think these same companies deliver superior customer service. Clearly there is a gap. I suggest you do some mystery shopping and experience your own company’s service from a consumer’s perspective. I encourage you to take the full journey you offer on a mobile device. If it isn’t practical for you to do this, then find a friend or hire someone to do it for you.
What are some other questions?