What is Customer Experience? Your questions answered
Susanna Day | 26 October 2018 |
What is customer experience? If you manage and market a brand, work in a sales team, deliver events or deal directly with customers, you’ll have heard about it.
In fact, whatever your industry, CX as a discipline of its own will have been making waves for the last few years.
It’s also set to define your business future.
Don’t get left behind. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get on board with CX. Find answers to your questions, and start feeling confident about customer experience.
What exactly is customer experience (CX)?
Customer experience is the interaction between a customer and a product, service or brand, throughout the customer’s relationship with that product, service, or brand.
Sounds complicated? Let’s put it more simply.
It’s what your customer thinks of you.
Perception is key to CX. Your customer will develop (and modify) that perception athrough multiple points of contact, again and again: from when first they’re researching what they want, through their direct interactions with you, and after.
Understanding customer experience means understanding your consumer’s needs, hopes and concerns, at every stage of that journey. In the end, customer experience is about how people feel when they think about and connect with your brand. As a CX professional, it’s your job to make that feeling as positive as it can be.
Isn’t that just the same as customer service?
Nope. Customer experience isn’t just about the service you provide your customer.
It’s about their perception of your brand, before they ever interact with you. It extends from the very first time they learn you exist, through every other touchpoint they have with you. That means it includes experiences they associate with you, even if you’re no longer responsible for providing them a service.
Let’s imagine you’re organising a conference.
As the conference organiser, you’re responsible for a huge number of different touchpoints with an attendee. The ease of the registration process, via a website, app, email or phone interaction. The tone, frequency and informational value of follow-up communications. How welcome they feel on arrival. How well their individual needs and expectations are met by the food, venue and social programme.
You’ll work hard to deliver excellence at every step in that process.
That’s just great customer service. Where does customer experience come in?
Now consider all the other touchpoints of that delegate’s conference experience which are outside your control. Was their journey easy, or was their train delayed? Did the conference turn out to be more or less beneficial or relevant to them than they’d hoped?
Did they meet the keynote speaker, who just happens to be their lifelong hero, and start a partnership that will propel their career to a whole new level?
Or did they overdo it at the gala dinner, miss their flight home and have to make endless apologies to their partner?
Good or bad, all of those experiences will impact on the overall customer experience.
Wait a minute! That’s all completely out of your control.
Afraid so. What you can control is how you manage the impact of those external touchpoints.
Let’s take the journey as an example.
As a conference organiser, you can monitor travel delays, and anticipate the breathless late arrival of your delegate. You can’t fix their late train, but you can text them the number of a taxi firm to get them here quickly, or book them a ride. You can’t help that they missed the opening mingle over coffee, but you can have a hot cup waiting for them, and something to eat in case they missed breakfast. If they’re going to miss the first few sessions, you can arrange for slides and papers to be streamed or sent by email – so they can be experiencing the conference before they even get there, and miss nothing.
In fact, you can turn their negative customer experience of a different brand – the train company – into a positive experience of your own.
Why should I care about CX?
Because your competitors do.
According to Oracle’s 2018 Smarter CX Insights Report, 55% of professionals already working in customer experience worry they’ll be overtaken by other businesses who are using CX more strategically and innovatively. That’s more than half of the people who are already building CX into their workflow. Resist, and you risk being left much further behnd.
More importantly, understanding and improving customer experience is simply good practice.
This is just a taste of what CX can do for you.
Next time on the blog: user experience. What is it, and how is it different from customer experience?