Exceptional, unmemorable, and downright dreadful.
For every kind of experience a customer has with your brand, one of these three adjectives can be used to describe it.
I am sure anyone reading this article can think of an experience they’ve had with a brand that completely blew them away (or did the complete opposite). These experiences create strong, lasting impressions that quickly establish an overall opinion that’s hard to shake.
What does customer experience mean?
Customer experience is the opinion a customer has formed of a brand that is created throughout every touchpoint of the customer journey.
What is customer experience?
Providing a favorable customer experience is no small feat. It takes detailed collaboration throughout the cross-functional cycle to build a smooth customer journey.
Simply put, customer experience stems from two key elements: people and product.
The way employees interact with customers matters. Are they proactive? Do they cater to specific needs? Do they go out of their way to assist? Supporting customers in a dedicated manner is crucial for positive perception.
|TIP: Phenomenal customer service skills are key to a great customer experience. Ensure your employees have these essential skills!|
The second element, product, is just as important for the customer’s experience. Does the product provide value or fulfill a need? Is it user-friendly? Does it perform well? Each of these elements must work together to provide exceptional engagements for an overall positive experience to be had.
Customer experience vs. customer service
Since these terms are commonly used together, it can be easy to confuse them. Great customer service is an element of positive customer experience, but the terms are certainly not the same thing.
Customer experience encompasses the entire journey a customer has with a brand, while customer service is one specific touchpoint of that journey.
The biggest difference between the two terms is customer experience is proactive, whereas customer service is reactive.
Employees and service professionals provide customer service to guests when they have a problem, question, or are needing assistance. This type of service is prompted by the customer, and the reaction strategy must be executed properly to ensure a happy customer. By creating a proactive service strategy, you prove to your customers that you know what they need and are willing to do anything to provide that to them, even before they ask.
Why does customer experience matter?
It’s important to remember that customers, not sellers, have all the power in today’s competitive marketplace due to the abundance of options to choose from.
When competing brands offer products with little differentiation between price, features, and quality, the customer will choose the brand that provides something that cannot be filled by the product itself: customer experience.
This is what makes a customer’s experience with your brand so crucial. It is up to you to provide a reason to choose your brand over the rest.
A positive customer experience creates a crucial relationship between the customer and the brand that ultimately boosts brand loyalty and trust, reduces customer attrition, creates happy customers that will advocate for your brand, and undoubtedly, increases overall revenue.
According to the Harvard Business Journal, in transaction-based businesses, customers who had an excellent experience spent 140% more money than their counterparts who had a poor experience. Additionally, in subscription-based businesses, customers who reported excellent experiences had a 74% chance of remaining a subscriber for an additional year, unlike the customers with poor experiences who had only a 43% chance of remaining a subscriber.
The opportunities to surprise and delight customers are endless, and by creating unique and personalized experiences for them, they will likely share those experiences with friends, family, and review sites. Customers can be the easiest form of marketing for a brand. Provide a wow-worthy experience, and the customer will do the rest.
It's commonly known that customers who post reviews are either extremely satisfied or extremely dissatisfied with their experience with a brand. Think of all those customers who have had unmemorable experiences that will likely forgo a review.
Review sites are an incredibly valuable aspect of any customer’s journey. Whether they are the ones writing them or not, 94% of all customers read online reviews.
Worrying about the customers who have had poor experiences is not enough, you must work hard to ensure even the somewhat satisfied customers have something to remember you by.
How to delight your customers with excellent customer experience
Providing consistent positive experiences may seem like a daunting task, but all it really comes down to is understanding your customer base.
Once you understand who your customers are and what they need from your brand, your strategy will fall into place.
These tips can help any brand focus on what’s important and allow for a better-optimized strategy in the future.
Make each customer feel special. If a customer feels like a brand cares about them and knows who they are and what they want, they’ll return the favor.
2. Customer-centric attitude
The customer is always right, even if they’re wrong. Companies should actively listen to their customers, remedy the situation, and provide guidance for next time.
3. Streamline communication
Ensure that customer service is easy to reach and provides timely assistance. Every process a customer goes through with your brand (ex. returns, exchanges, refunds) should be clearly documented with steps and FAQs. If additional assistance is needed, the next action should be simple to find and use.
4. Create user-friendly products and spaces
Streamline experiences by providing stores that are easy to navigate and products that are easy to use. The amount of effort exerted when interacting with your brand in any form should be as little as possible.
5. Acknowledge mistakes and areas for improvement
Everyone makes mistakes, even businesses! Dropping the ball should be avoided at all costs, but if it happens, it’s okay. Companies should address the failure and promise to improve. Allow the customer’s frustrations to be heard and then make it right for them.
6. Exceed all expectations
Ensure that you are going above and beyond all expectations a customer might have about you. Have them leave each encounter feeling shocked that someone paid them that much attention and care.
7. Appreciate your customers
Companies should make their customers feel valued. The best way to do this is by rewarding their loyalty. This can also be as simple as appreciating them in-store by having manners and being friendly, or as complex as VIP memberships and rewards programs.
How to measure customer experience
Regularly measuring your customers’ perception of your brand is crucial for relevancy and longevity in the marketplace. This section will walk you through the most common ways to measure customer experience.
Crowdsourcing opinions on various review websites can be an excellent way to obtain candid reviews of your brand. Customers often pinpoint specific instances that pleased or displeased them, which will help immensely when determining future strategies.
TIP: Are you a B2B company? Create your free G2 profile and start reading what your customers have to say about you.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely a customer is to recommend a brand. This is typically asked on a scale of 0-10 and paired with a question like:
|“How likely are you to recommend G2 to a friend or colleague?”|
Source: Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld
Respondents who chose 9 or 10 are classified as “Promoters”, meaning that they are loyal to the brand and will actively recommend it to others.
“Passives” give a score of 7 or 8. These people are satisfied with the brand but most likely have unmemorable experiences and could be partial to competitors.
Respondents who gave scores between 0 and 6 are called “Detractors”. These people are displeased with the brand and the experiences they have had with it and will most likely share their negative experiences with others.
Customer effort score (CES)
CES measures the amount of effort a customer must use to get a problem fixed, use a product or service, or get a question answered. These questions are measured on a scale of “very easy” to “very hard”.
This type of question is typically asked after a customer has completed a significant interaction with a brand.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
According to Qualtrics, CSAT can be measured by one or more variations of this question that appears at the end of a customer feedback survey:
Customer attrition rate
Customer turnover rate for a specific time period (quarterly, yearly, etc.) can be measured with this formula:
|Number of customers lost by the end of the time period divided by the total number of customers at the beginning of the time period.|
The resulting number represents the percentage of customers lost. By comparing the percentages over time, brands will see a trend in customers gained or churned.
Experience happy customers
Customers have all the power in this day and age, and their expectations will only become more demanding and prominent. With all of the choices out there, make sure you are continuously proving to your customers why they should choose you. If this digital society has taught you anything, you know that opinions (good and bad) spread like wildfire. Invest in your customers’ positive opinions by providing that wow-worthy experience, and you’ll be amazed at what those happy customers will do for you in return.
Want to learn what it really takes to provide wow-worthy customer experiences? Hear from 7 industry experts on their favorite customer experience examples they've had with a brand!