What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience is the sum of all the transactions a customer has with you over the duration of your relationship. From the time they select your product or service, through every interaction they have with you, and in combination with the value they feel they have received, your customer’s experience with you is formed.
That experience – good or bad – will determine not only whether they continue to do business with you but whether or not they will recommend you to friends and family.
Why does customer experience matter?
Your ability to deliver an experience that differentiates you from your competition in the perception of your customer will increase not only customer spending but also will inspire customer loyalty. “Loyalty is now driven primarily by a company’s interaction with its customers and how well it delivers on their wants and needs.” Jessica Labor, CRM Gets Serious. Labor goes on to say: “With customer loyalty an ever-more-fleeting commodity, businesses must deliver consistent and consistently high-quality service.”
It’s true that loyal customers are more desirable – they are willing to pay more money, buy more often, and bring business to your door.
How do I know if customers are loyal?
First, you cannot mistake customer satisfaction for customer loyalty. Traditional customer satisfaction surveys just don’t cut it! For over a decade now, companies who have subscribed to the Net Promoter Score methodology developed by Bain and Associates, have shown time and time again to be industry leaders in customer loyalty.
Fred Reichheld, co-author of The Ultimate Question and The Ultimate Question 2.0, puts forth that your customer’s response to a single question will determine how loyal they are to you and your brand:
‘How likely is it that you would recommend [X] to a friend or colleague?’
Reichheld further asserts that after you learn how loyal your customers are currently (a statistic which could likely be a scary one!) that this in turn helps you define you customers’ real expectations – where you are meeting them and where you are falling short.
Through a feedback program, you can develop action plans centered on the customer experience. You can affect changes in how you do business that impact positively on your customers’ perceptions – that delight them at every turn, that create loyal fans who promote you to other and who would not dream of taking their business elsewhere.
Loyal customers often make up less than 20% of our business but account for up to 50% of revenue.
This startling statistic is highlighted by Mark Hunter (The Sales Hunter) in his article The 5 Types of Customers: Increase Your Loyal Customers to Increase Your Sales. The better the customer experience, the greater the likelihood is that your customers will become and remain loyal to you, ultimately generating greater profit and helping you along the path to long-term growth and success.
How do I create a great customer experience?
Well, you must start at the very beginning. Your customer’s first experience with you is framed by advertising – many times word of mouth; online reviews, referrals and recommendations of peers. What they’ve been told or read tells them what they can expect from you. Your advertising should portray an accurate image of what their real experience will be.
Then you’ve only got one shot to make them a customer – so first impressions count!
Once you’ve made them into a customer, you have to periodically check in with them – soliciting feedback through surveys at various intervals or based on transactions they have with you – so that you can ensure you are providing that same great customer experience every time.
Remember, to grow your loyal customer base, you have to go beyond merely satisfying your customer’s needs – you must truly seek to understand them and to provide a positive experience every time.