Customer Experience (CX) is often mistaken as customer service. The easiest way to explain the difference is: Customer Service creates a Customer Experience.
- Customer Service is the human, digital and physical interactions pre-through-post-sale. How easy was the sale? How quickly did you help the customer?
- Customer Experience is the emotions triggered by those interactions and every other “touch-point” with your company. Loyalty, trust, caring are examples of emotions.
A touch-point is every point-of-contact the customer makes with your company and industry and begins with their moment of need for your service. This is followed by the moment the customer becomes aware of your company. An ad, online review or referral from a friend could be positive or negative. That triggers an emotion. Other examples of touch-points: Your phone system, parking, payment methods and certainly every person in your company even if they are not customer facing. The janitor isn’t customer facing but the interaction with a dirty bathroom creates a poor customer experience.
There are three primary drivers of CX:
- Ease: More options/channels to access your service or customer service
- Effectiveness: Are you solving the customer’s problem or their need to get a job done?
- Emotion: How did they feel at any given touch-point/interaction?
Companies focus on ease and effectiveness yet give barely any thought to customer emotions. Winning their emotions is the battleground and indifference is the enemy. *68% of customers leave (7 out of 10) because they perceive a company does not care. They perceive them as indifferent. If that doesn’t shake you, perhaps some motivation for retention will: **a 5% reduction in the customer defection rate can increase profits by 75%!
A customer does not stop being an emotion driven person because they are a customer.
Retention requires a CX “Strategy.” A CX strategy defines actionable plans as part of your operations to deliver a positive experience across every touch-point where your customer comes in contact with your business. Part of that strategy includes “Customer Journey Mapping.”
Journey Mapping identifies your customers and their emotions at every touch-point of their journey. The mapping identifies how their needs and emotions may differ from customer to customer (i.e. Men vs. Women. Boomer vs Millennial).
A CX Strategy is a crucial component of your business operations because customers are comparing their experience across industries and not just with your competitors. A visit to the doctor and the front office is being compared to their car service experience, hotel service, restaurant service and so on. On average, a customer interacts with about twelve different industries per day and is comparing them against each other. It’s no longer enough to be better than your competition to prevent your customer from perceiving you as indifferent. The customer needs to feel that you care about more than just their money.
Communication is key factor for CX Strategy success. It must include constant and consistent messages through-out the company to all members to build a customer driven culture. The communication strategy must motivate, define processes and goals, and communicate even the smallest wins. It must be clear the strategy is to improve CX and NOT to find fault or point fingers at teams, members or managers. People must leave egos at the door when building a CX Strategy to discourage silo mindsets.
Gathering real-time data and proactively seeking issues through a Voice of the Customer (VOC) strategy is essential to identify what makes your customer happy. A lack of negative customer feedback is a deceptive and costly representation of customer satisfaction. 72% of passive or dissatisfied customers prefer to remain silent to avoid confrontation. Calling customers still provides the best response and most insightful data. Email and on-line surveys are valid options but have less than a 3% response rate. Meaningful data requires many responses. A CX VOC strategy must focus on questions targeting CX improvement and must be performed separate from sales or marketing surveys.
Measuring the data is essential to decide what actions to take and which are priorities. Net Promoter Score is a simple and effective method to measure where you need to focus.
Do you meet minimum expectations? Improving the Customer Experience may not require improving the actual service if the service meets all the customer’s expectations. Remember, at a minimum, the customer expects everything to be perfect: the car fixed right at a fair price and the customer treated respectfully and professionally. Perhaps even picked up, washed and delivered back. That meets their minimum expectations and if nothing went wrong then they are “satisfied” because its what they expected. So, how do you make this customer “feel” better when you can’t improve the service?
Here’s a Use Case on how to exceed expectations:
A flooring company performed a one day carpet installation. The crew arrived on time at the customer’s home, greeted and treated the customer professionally, moved the furniture, correctly installed the carpet, correctly moved the furniture back to the same spots, cleaned up and left with a smile and a “thank you.”
This was the minimum the customer expected, so how did this company exceed the customer’s expectations?
With four 1-2 minute phone calls:
- The flooring company called the customer the day before to confirm the appointment.
- They called shortly after the crew’s scheduled arrival time asking if they arrived on time and professionally explained the work to be done to confirm the customer’s expectations.
- They called again midway through the installation to make sure all was going well.
- They called the next day to ask the customer if all their expectations were met and they were 100% happy.
Calls #2 and 3 were absolutely not expected and hit the WOW factor. This company demonstrated how much they genuinely cared about meeting the customer’s expectations. They effectively crushed any possible perception of indifference by proactively looking for issues and were prepared to resolve them.
How does your company go beyond meeting all of your customer’s minimum expectations?
A consistently great customer experience does not happen by accident. On average, only 20% of your customers promote/refer a business: 20% provide 80% of your profits, the 80/20 rule. These are your “Promoters.” Without a CX Strategy, actionable plans, this 20% love you by accident.
60-70% of your customers are “Passives.” They’re “satisfied” but don’t promote you. Or they may be passive and NOT satisfied because it might be harder to find a new service provider. Being held hostage is not a good relationship. A CX Strategy gives you the data to begin converting passives into enthusiastic promoters. **Converting a mere 5% of passives into promoters can increase your profits 75%!
These are some basics of a CX Strategy. Every size company, even a single person, in every industry will benefit with a CX Strategy that includes written actionable plans and goals. Implement it yourself if you have the resources or outsource cost-effectively to a CX agency such as Advanced Service Knowledge. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it does have to start … sooner rather than later.
* BloomTools.com; **Forbes.com
Gerry Criscenzo, President, Founder, Advanced Service Knowledge