The race to own customer experience is on! Companies are recognizing the importance of delivering an experience that makes them stand out from their competition. Some are learning the hard way. Last year United Airlines had a brand crisis, in which $1.4 billion in value was wiped out overnight when a passenger’s experience went viral on social media. And, you may not have heard about Juicero, but it fell victim to brand crisis when it was discovered the proprietary juice packets needed for its $699 juicer weren’t so proprietary, resulting in the company dropping the price of the juicer to $200, and then ultimately going out of business.
Be it customer service, product quality or just the way the customers feel about the companies they do business with, customer experience rises to the top of whether or not the customer will decide to keep doing business with a brand.
Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010. But while 80% of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” only 8% of customers agree. In other words, companies have a long way to go. And, that means there is tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor or gain market share in an industry. Everything a brand does – the way it does its marketing, research, advertising and more – all play a role in shaping the customer’s experience. Focusing on customer experience management (CXM) may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive business climate.
It used to be that customers could communicate with companies in only three ways. They could visit the business in person, write a letter or call customer support. Then came faxing, and then email. Today there are even more ways customers connect. They use Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and more. And, when customers do connect with you, they expect to be known and served “on demand” regardless of the channel they are using.
And, there are some customers who, when they don’t get the service they feel they deserve, complain. But, not to you. To the rest of the world on the aforementioned social channels. The good news is that some of the customers who are happy will share that across the social channels, too.
With so many channels through which customers communicate, it seems like creating a powerful and memorable customer experience is more complicated than ever. Technically, that’s true. But, on the surface, customers want the same things they’ve always wanted, and that is to be taken care of. They may be more demanding. They may want problems resolved faster. But that’s understandable because technology has given us the tools to provide that kind of speed.
And, here is something very important to consider. Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you. They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them. It could be a phone, a desktop computer, a tablet – whatever communication method they are most comfortable with.
I’ve written about this in previous articles. Jeff Nicholson at Pegasystems calls this “Channel-less Support,” meaning the customers have no idea how many channels a brand offers, and really don’t care. They just want to communicate on the one that’s most convenient for them.
I recently connected with some friends at Sprinklr, a company that has created what it refers to as a CXM (Customer Experience Management) platform to unify all these different channels into one. Its solutions enable customer support centers to unify 25 different communication channels, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They shared some insights for every type of company to consider when it comes to improving CX.
- All interactions and data need to be in one place: The customer may reach out to a company for support over live chat. The next time it’s on the phone. And the time after that, the customer uses instant message to connect with the company. Even though the interactions came across different channels, the person currently interacting with the customer must see them as one long conversation.
- To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved. A company may have different teams, but the customer doesn’t care. As mentioned above, the solution is to bring all interactions and data into one place. When technology doesn’t work together, neither can teams. When teams can’t work together, they can’t give a personalized customer experience. This frustrates both customers and employees.
- Create consistency in your processes to create consistency for the customer: When companies get big, they often have multiple teams with multiple processes. This can become painfully frustrating for customers who end up talking to different people in different departments. There could be conflicting information and explanations. That leads to confusion, and often a loss of confidence. Ultimately, that can lead to lost business.
The company may define its brand promise, but it is the customer who decides whether or not the company delivered on its promise. There’s a lot riding on delivering a positive customer experience. You hire and train good people, but you must also give them the tools they need to deliver a CX that not only meets the customers’ expectations but makes them want to come back. Be there for them – no matter how they reach out to you – be consistent, and build your brand through satisfied customers.
Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, keynote speaker and NYT bestselling author. Learn about his latest book The Convenience Revolution at www.BeConvenient.com.
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