Investments in customer experience are worth every cent. Numerous studies in recent years have shown us this time and again. PwC, for example, surveyed around 15,000 people in a global study.
The results put the importance of a solid customer experience strategy into a nutshell very nicely:
- Companies that offer a great experience benefit from a price premium of up to 16 percent compared to their competitors.
- One in three customers turns their backs on a brand after just one bad experience.
- Speed, convenience, helpful service staff and a friendly atmosphere are the most important criteria for 70 percent.
- 63 percent of the customers who were surveyed are willing to share their personal data if they benefit from better customer service.
- More than three-quarters prefer personal contact, which can be enabled by technology as long as it is done well.
- Speed counts – especially for Generation Z, who have little patience for long waiting times and complicated media disruptions.
- Approximately half of the people surveyed confirmed that almost all companies need to work on improving their customer experience.
The last point shows that, despite all the efforts of the companies, there is still a lot of catching up to do. Customers perceive brands, products and services differently to how the providers want them to.
Between Desire and Reality: Customer Experience Gap
What we are talking about here is the Customer Experience Gap, the gap between the companies’ wishful thinking and their customers’ opinion. 75 percent of the companies surveyed in a study conducted by Capgemini would describe themselves as customer-centric.
However, only 30 percent of customers would agree with this assessment. It turns out that not every effort bears fruit. In the end, a perfect customer experience depends on supposedly insignificant details, which is where many companies fail.
But what are these details? And why is it so difficult for companies to take them into account when designing and managing their customer experience?
Let's go back to the PwC study quoted at the beginning. There we find answers to the question of what customers really value and what the key elements of customer experience are.
Focus on the Must-Do's and not the Nice-to-Have’s
Many companies use a lot of their energy and resources in customer experience management to create a wow effect. But PwC found that customers are not impressed by playful design gimmicks and cutting-edge technology features.
In fact, the opposite is true. It goes without saying that the design must fulfill its purpose and the technology must function flawlessly. This means that companies no longer earn bonus points, even if it is difficult for them to accept this.
So, are all investments in digitalization and user-centric design superfluous? Not at all! But these are merely hygiene factors. It is only when the design and technology don't work and cause problems that they have a negative impact on the customer relationship. In other words, when it comes to design and technology, there is hardly anything to gain, but so much to lose.
The following aspects are much more relevant to the overall customer experience:
- Speed: Time is money. What applies to your own company can be applied directly to the situation of your customers. Nobody likes to wait for something they would have preferred to do without in the first place – and that includes service cases. Speed refers to the access to the service such as no annoying waiting times in the call center. But it especially refers to the period until the problem is solved. The faster, the better! 40 percent of customers surveyed by PwC are even prepared to pay for faster service.
- Convenience: Make it easy for your customers to gain access to the service. Avoid unnecessary detours and clear the way to your customers’ preferred touchpoint. Automation and technology should facilitate the customer experience from the customer's point of view. Investments in digitalization can only fulfill their purpose is everything functions seamlessly.
- Consistency: Speaking of seamless – consistency is one of the most frequently mentioned criteria when it comes to making or breaking your brand promise. Unnecessary switches between contact channels, information that's constantly being queried, inconsistent support content – all this drives customers round the bend. If you think about what gaps in the experience you can bridge with technology, you're already on the right track.
- Friendliness: Expert and friendly service is the classic ingredient for an outstanding customer experience. This has been the case for conventional service technicians for many decades, and it also applies to bots based on Conversational AI. Does something have to be wrong just because it has always been true?
Yes, it's that simple - at first glance. But if you think about it, would your company's customer experience consistently withstand a detailed review of all four factors? At all levels from start to finish?
These are universal ingredients of a great customer experience. They are must-do's that span the entire customer journey. It is much more promising to focus on these factors than to get bogged down in immaterial nice-to-have's that hardly impact customer loyalty.
When it comes to implementing speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness, it’s down to business. Every touchpoint, every interaction, every process step, every system and every employee must internalize the four factors. Only then can you unfold your full effect on customer satisfaction.
Focus on Customer Experience Is a Top Management Priority
The end result is the recognition that every supposedly insignificant detail is paramount for the quality of the customer experience. In other words, every employee, every process stage, every project and every interaction can influence the experience of your customers, whether directly or indirectly.
In recent years, many companies have eliminated the most obvious fractures in the customer experience. But now it's a matter of going one step further and digging deeper. At first glance, the optimization of indirect factors may have the least potential for improving the customer experience. Nevertheless, they can make a big difference in the end.
Finally, let’s look at one more result from the Digital Trends study, which is well worth reading. Adobe and Econsultancy asked nearly 13,000 business professionals worldwide about their business priorities. According to them, optimizing the customer experience is the number one priority.
When top managers prioritize a topic, we can only draw two conclusions:
- The management of the customer experience is and remains a decisive competitive factor.
- Despite all the investments and efforts made by companies, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
There's a lot to do, so get on with it! Your customers will thank you for it.
With our SMART SERVICE Platform, we have been supporting many of the leading technology brands in improving the customer experience for many years. Learn all about B2X solutions here.