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What is Customer Experience? Tips and Examples
Is your company’s focus customer-centric? Do you work hard to ensure that your patrons have positive interactions with you whenever you cross paths? Do you think your customers would happily pass your name onto their friends and family? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you likely provide a strong customer experience.
The customer experience an organization delivers is the sum total of all their consumer interactions at every touchpoint. That could include interacting with your website, speaking with a customer service representative, using your product or service, and paying their bill. Every time a customer intersects with your business you have the opportunity to increase the quality of their customer experience.
When we say “every time,” do we really mean “every”? Yes, because it only takes one poor interaction to send a customer’s experience of your brand or business straight off a cliff.
EVERYTHING AFFECTS YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
To get a better sense of the holistic nature of customer experience, let’s look at a specific example. Imagine you and your family go out for a night at the movies. You buy your tickets online ahead of time, stand in line to pick them up, stop at the concessions stand for soda and snacks, and make your way to the theater.
Each of these moments contributes to your customer experience. For example, if the ticket ordering website is slow or poorly designed, it negatively affects your perception. Similarly, if the line is too long, the concessions stand is out of your favorite candy, or you have difficulty finding seats, your customer experience degrades.
And those are just a few of the possible factors that affect your experience. Was the theater clean? Did the movie start on time? Were the picture and sound quality good? Did other theatergoers stay quiet during the movie? The experience of your night out is the total of all of these interactions. If anyone one of them went poorly, you might think twice about attending the theater in the future.
From this perspective, customer experience is a continuum that’s constantly shifting. When things are going well, the needle moves to the positive. When a failure or breakdown occurs, perceptions take a tumble. Consider that each customer’s experience is different since each interacts with your business at different times, in different ways. Due to this variability, the best way to maintain positive customer experiences is to give every possible customer touchpoint equal consideration.
WHAT CAUSES A POOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
The reasons for a poor customer experience are different for every business, but many can be classified into general categories. Some of these include:
- Long wait times
- Rude or unhelpful employees
- Poor service
- Unmet expectations
- Unintuitive or flimsy product design
- Service that doesn’t satisfy customer requirements
- A lack of communication
- Confusing or opaque pricing
- Bad user interfaces
- A lack of self-help resources
- Inaccessible customer service
What you’ll notice is that there isn’t an item on this list that can’t be addressed. For example, if your customers are complaining about long retail lines or extended waits during technical support calls, you can put resources toward creating solutions. If your pricing is turning away customers, you can revise your terms and devise a more transparent pricing scheme.
Here’s the moral. Your customer experience is entirely under your control. All it takes is a commitment to excellence. Below you’ll find some tips on how to make this a reality.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Building a better customer experience starts from the top down. It requires an unrelenting commitment from upper management to locate the source of failures, build viable solutions, and implement them throughout the organization. And the primary failure point is often the organization itself.
Examine and Revise Your Service Culture
The primary driver of customer experience quality is your company culture. If your culture doesn’t prize customer service or embrace the improvements required to serve customers better, every new process you attempt to implement will fail. That’s because your processes are subservient to you people. If they don’t care to do better, they won’t.
To combat this tendency, build a culture that’s devoted to customer service. Integrate dedication to service into your company DNA, making it the focus of your mission statement, your hiring processes, and your performance reviews. Educate your people on the importance of peerless customer service and then empower them to take action when required. Finally, give them the tools they need to serve your customers quickly and effectively.
SEE ALSO: Gratitude is a Business Strategy
Lead by Example
It’s no easy task to reshape an ailing customer experience. Employees lower on the totem pole need to see the required changes in action. That means upper management needs to model appropriate behaviors and then help them spread.
Talk to Your Customers and Walk a Mile in Their Shoes
When your customers are happy, they won’t be shy about telling you. But when they’re upset, they may well suffer in silence, eventually leaving you for the competition. Don’t let that happen. Instead, create open lines of communication with your patrons, whether in person, on the phone, or through social media. Ask them how you’re doing and what you could be doing better.
Then step back and examine your entire operation from their perspective. Where are the potential failure points? Where in their journey are they getting frustrated? Which solutions are stopgaps, and which would permanently solve their issues? These are essential questions because when you understand precisely where your customer experience is falling apart, you know where to invest resources to repair it.
Measure the Results of Your Improvements
If you don’t build in measurements to rate your progress, you’ll never know for sure if you’re reaching your goals. Some common metrics that companies use include:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is the simplest metric on the list. It measures customer loyalty on a scale from 0 to 10 by asking a single, focused question. Generally, you’ll ask some form of, “How likely are you to recommend our product or service to a friend or colleague, 0 being not at all and 10 being extremely likely?”
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): CSAT is a more focused version of NPS. Whereas NPS asks about general satisfaction with the business or brand, CSAT is targeted at specific customer touchpoints, rated on either a five or seven-point scale. A sample question might be, “On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being extremely dissatisfied and 5 being extremely satisfied, how would you rate the performance of our baristas?”
Customer Effort Score (CES): CES is similar to CSAT in its targeted approach, but it concentrates on the effort customers feel they have to apply toward specific actions. You’re looking for responses in the “easy” range. When customers rate actions as “difficult,” you’ve found an area for improvement.
A sample question might be, “With 1 being “very difficult” and 7 being extremely easy, how easy did you find our online ordering process?” CES questions are commonly sent directly after the customer interaction in question.
Time to Resolution (TTR): The final metric we’ll discuss measures the average time between when a customer service ticket is opened and when it’s resolved. It’s computed by adding up resolution times over a certain period and then dividing the resulting figure by the total number of resolutions. Low numbers indicate that your customer service professionals are dealing with customer concerns quickly, while higher numbers suggest cause for concern.
Using these metrics on a consistent basis will help you chart your organization’s progress toward a better customer experience. To your customers!
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