Author: David Slatter
Results from a study of consumer purchasing behavior by McKinsey & Co. indicates that just 13 percent of consumers remained loyal and repurchased from the same brand without considering alternate brands, while another 29 percent repurchased after looking at alternates. Think about this for a moment — that means 87 percent of your customers are potentially considering an alternate brand! The flip side to this is that your competitors’ customers are doing the same thing.
Consumers have many choices, and the vast array of online tools makes it very easy to compare pricing, product specifications and availability. As marketers, we love to talk about features and benefits, and why our product is better than anyone else’s. Facts, figures, tables and charts are important, but what we often overlook is the customer experience.
Take a quick look at a few of the peer review sites. Predominately what people are discussing is their experience, and not just the product’s functional benefits. They talk about the ordering process, the awesome customer rep who helped them select exactly the right option, the fact that the store was so well laid out, the assistant who carried their purchase out to the car in the rain, or how impersonal it felt when they contacted the help desk.
According to Forrester Research, 89 percent of consumers say customer experience is the key driver in brand selection, so it’s no surprise that many organizations have started to ramp up their customer service (CX) initiatives. However, even though almost three-quarters of companies say they aim to be customer experience leaders in their industry, only 25 percent of CX professionals say that their companies’ CX programs have actually improved the customer experience.
Your brand is every touchpoint you have with the marketplace — it is more than just your outward appearance. It is the way your receptionist answers the phone; it’s how your human resources department represents you when recruiting talent; it’s the organizations and partners that you choose to collaborate with; and, of course, it’s the quality or your work. Everything you do is part of your brand.
Challenge the Norm: A key enabler in creating and maintaining a strong brand is having a finger on the pulse of the customer experience. Unfortunately, many organizations believe that creating and managing the customer experience is a marketing function, and some equate it to customer service. As a result, organizations tend to plan their customer experience improvements without a complete picture of the customers they serve, the markets in which they operate and the interactions they have with their customers.
- Do you know what is important to your customers?
- What are your customers’ pain points?
- What are all the possible touchpoints through which your customers interact with you?
- How do you measure up against the competition?
- What are the latest market trends?
Developing a holistic customer experience perspective isn’t rocket science, but it does require a broader definition as well as a wider acceptance and responsibility for that experience within the organization. CX initiatives tend to fall into three categories- the sales and customer onboarding process; service/product delivery; and problem identification and resolution. Internal engagement from customer-facing staff is key, however CX transformations should be viewed as an enterprise-wide endeavor. Most critical is the external perspective- it’s crazy to believe that you can understand the customer experience without actually involving the customer in both uncovering the issues and developing improvements.
By putting the customer at the center of your CX programs, you will discover areas of excellence, gaps in performance and opportunities for improvement. Your customers will thank you for it!