Customer experience has become one of the top subjects business world likes to talk about in recent years. Small or big, many companies work towards creating a better customer experience, by making reforms in business structures and developing new strategies. In theory everything seems great, but what about the reality?
Now, think about the brands that you are a customer of. How many brands do you think actually have the perfect customer experience? How many companies can we count that make their customers happy in all touchpoints?
Actually, successful companies with a very well designed customer experience is thin on the ground. This is nothing but natural, because according to a research by Accenture, customers who have changed their preferences because of unsuccessful customer service experiences have caused a loss of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars. (source). This is only US, by the way.
The reason is hidden in another dramatic statistic. According to the research of the customer experience doyen Esteban Kolsky's company ThinkJar, 75% of the companies do not know what interaction means but they try to measure it anyway. (source)
These statistics show that we still have much to learn about customer experience. To learn, obviously you need to ask questions. In this article series, we will try to find answers for the 15 questions which would allow us to examine customer experience in detail.
Question 1: What is Customer Experience?
Since customer experience is a wide subject, it is not easy to describe it shortly. There are many things told and many definitions made on this topic. Deriving from the common points among them, one can say that, ‘‘Customer experience is the result created by the interaction of which the customers have involved at all touchpoints’’.
Experience begins with awareness and it continues until customer and brand arrive at the final touchpoint. Good experience lets your brand gain loyal customers. For examining the customer experience with a nice and warm analogy, we suggest you to check this article of ours.
Question 2: Is Customer Experience and Customer Service the Same Thing?
Although they are highly interconnected, no, customer experience and customer service are not the same. Customer service is a small part of the whole experience, and with other touchpoints, it is one of the elements that create the customer experience.
Customer service is the name of sale activities that support and/or inform the customer before, during and after the purchase. It is also a general name given to the staff responsible for this job. Customer services can be run face to face, via phone or e-mail. Such services constitute quite an important part of customer experience. For this reason, employee selection and recruitment process have to be executed with utmost care. Chatbots which have been launched and became popular in recent years, are also frequently used in the field of customer services.
Question 3: Why is Customer Experience Important?
Customer experience determines the continuity of the relationship between a brand and its customer. In that sense, it is of utmost importance. The fast-moving market dynamics of modern world have allowed players to penetrate much rapidly than before. Technological advancements has accelerated the pace of production and also increased product and service quality. This has led to a more fierce competition for each and every company.
What should brands do for shining through?
The importance of customer experience comes to light at this point. Brands are not only responsible for the product they serve or the service itself anymore. For shining through, they have to provide the best experience to their customers. Because, a good experience keeps the customer close to the brand and triggers repurchase. Besides, a good customer experience spreads with WOM: Suggestions and comments contribute to the brand awareness and perception both on the Internet and in the physical world.
In the case where the customer does not have a good experience, the exact opposite of what we have stated above would be true. This time, the gears would work backwards and diminish the reputation of the brand to a very low point. This would cause revenue losses and increase the marketing expenses in the long term.
Question 4: What Can I Do for My Customers to Have a Better Experience?
Actually, the answer of this question is directly proportional to your creativity. But there are some basic points which definitely would increase the quality of the customer experience.
- Your Staff: Your employees represents you in your one on one communication with customers. Their competence, happiness and the way they work influence the customer experience directly. Therefore, opportunities should be offered to the employees for improving themselves. Especially for the ones who communicate with customers face to face.
- Consistency: Always aim for the perfect but do not risk the current experience. Customers care for consistency. Rather than encountering a bad surprise, they want to be on the safe side.
- Personalisation: You can show your customers that you care about them by providing them a tailor-made personalised experience. According to Lior Arussy, a well made client base is a backbone of a relationship between the company and the customer.
- Listening to the Customer: Knowing the expectations of the person you provide a service or product is just like having a map that shows the right path for improving the experience. Of course, it is not possible to answer all the requests yet being steady and consistent are always useful.
- Solving Problems: Finding the source of the problems and blocking it in a proactive way before having a negative impact actually is the way to solution. For this, the journey of the customer has to be analysed carefully and empathically. Planning the whole customer experience from top to bottom in the first place is also important.
Question 5: How to Measure the Customer Experience?
Who do you ask if your customer experience design is successful or not? Of course to the customers, again! There are many methods and metrics for the brands that can be used for this purpose. Let us have a look at those briefly:
- Net Promoter Score – NPS: NPS is one of the most common measurement methods. It is based on a scoring system with a scale from 1 to 10. The customers who give 9 and 10 points to the brand are considered that supporting the brand totally, whereas the customers who give 7 and 8 are believed to be passive ones. Customers who give 6 and below are seen as they have negative thoughts about the brand and also they share those thoughts with their environments. By reading our article about Net Promoter Score you can get more detailed information about this measurement method.
- Customer Satisfaction Score – CSAT: CSAT is a test containing 5 choices. The test is generally applied after specific and short-term interactions. More detailed questions are prefered compared to NPS. It offers a wide selection of questions which can be applied to every condition and sector.
- Average Handling Time – AHT / First Response Time – FRT: The time which has elapsed until answering the feedback from the customers for the first time or solving a complaint or a request of a customer. This is also an important method of evaluation. The difference between the average solution time or the first response time from the methods stated above is that, instead of measuring the customer’s feelings or thoughts, this one is based on the performance of the employee.
- First Contact Resolution – FCR: It is generally used in the area of customer services. It is the success rate for solving the customer’s problems by understanding the needs of the customer from the first contact without the need for a second one.
- Customer Effort Score – CES: As the name implies, it measures the effort of the customer who is dealing with a problem. The less stages the customer overcomes, the more successful the product or the service be. It is generally used in the interface and user experience measurements.