By 2020, customer experience (CX) is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker study). Is your organization treating the customer experience with that level of importance?
To customers and prospects, your brand is not merely a logo, color palette or elevator pitch. Rather, it’s the feelings and perceptions formed through a collection of individual experiences or interactions. From working with your sales team to contacting support to receiving an invoice, if you’re not delivering a customer experience that consistently meets and exceeds expectations, you’re not putting your brand in the best light and setting the stage for growth.
75% of people now expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with brands.
80% of business buyers expect companies to interact with them in real time. – Salesforce research
To compete on customer experience for better customer acquisition and deeper retention and loyalty, companies must make the most out of every direct and indirect touchpoint they have with customers and prospective customers. For that to happen you first need to understand the experiences you’re delivering today and apply those learnings to your CX strategy moving forward. A critical step in that direction is effectively capturing and applying the voice-of-the-customer (VOC).
Nearly all B2B executives consider customer experience (CX) to be a critical factor for success. Yet, only 20 percent of B2B companies are distinguished as CX masters. – Accenture Strategy
Below are four questions that will help you determine whether you are truly listening to what customers have to say and are applying that feedback to deliver better experiences with your brand.
Do you recognize bias and manage it effectively?
Setting aside your own thoughts and feelings can be difficult when receiving feedback from your customers. That can be especially hard to manage for stakeholders who have invested so much energy and effort in growing an organization. It’s important to recognize that we all have biases and that our minds must be open and accepting when listening to customers. Welcome the good, the bad and even the ugly feedback as an opportunity and stay of the mindset that customer perceptions matter more than your personal feelings and opinions.
Are you leveraging data to unlock and validate the voice of the customer?
The amount of data available to us is virtually endless. Gartner notes that companies implementing customer experience initiatives begin by focusing on the collection and analysis of customer feedback. Questions they ask themselves include: Are we engaging directly and indirectly with customer-facing teams for qualitative customer experience feedback? Are we analyzing website behavior and other digital interaction data to surface CX issues and opportunities? Review your customer data and ensure you are consistently (and objectively) looking for ways to improve.
Are you getting a full view of the customer experience?
Remember, your sales teams are not the only stakeholders engaging with customers. Support, training, accounting and more are also important parts of the CX equation and all can provide valuable insight. It’s also important to remember that seemingly mundane interactions like receiving an invoice are parts of the customer experience that can leave positive or negative impressions. One effective practice to elevate the importance customer experience is to form a cross functional voice-of-the-customer stakeholder group to review and surface feedback as well as contribute ideas and solutions for improvement.
According to Deloitte, 62% of companies view customer experience delivered by the contact centers as a competitive differentiator.
Do you make it easy for customers to be heard?
Customers want connection and resolution. You customers do not feel heard when they have to connect with you through generic inboxes, impersonal bots and incomplete or slow responses to questions or information requests. One relatively simple way to encourage real-time conversation is to add live chat to your website and support it with knowledgeable representatives that are well equipped for customer service and clearly understand the standards they need to uphold. Also, actively ask your customers for feedback on a regular basis via simple surveys, focus groups and, when appropriate, by calling them for insights into their experiences (as well as to thanking them for their business). These personal and more human interactions will help you build a better relationship with your customers.
Putting the Customer First
The bottom line is this – continuously listening to your customers and acting on what they tell you about your business is not an optional exercise for organizations that desire strong, healthy brands and sustainable growth. Take a deep breath, examine the current state of your customer experience improvement practices closely and then dedicate the time, energy and resources needed to ensure that customers know they are valued and always put first. Better brands and business results will be your reward.