A great customer experience can drive your business to the next level
Outstanding customer experience is at the heart of every successful business. When customers feel valued and enjoy the overall experience of doing business with your brand, they’ll often come back for more. But get it wrong, and not only will they flock to your competitors, but they probably won’t give you a second chance, either.
Your brand’s reputation is just as important—if not even more important—than the products or services you offer. So, creating a great customer experience doesn’t just make generally good business sense, it is the key to driving long-term business growth.
But the entire notion of customer experience has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Today, it’s all about making every aspect of the customer journey as smooth, simple, and frictionless as possible. It’s equally about using intelligent technology, like customer self-service solutions, to provide customers with the service and support they expect at every single touchpoint they have with your brand.
In this article, we’ll explain what customer experience is, how it permeates the entire customer journey, and what new digital solutions can help you take it to the next level.
What is customer experience?
According to HubSpot, “Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer's journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line including revenue.”
In other words, the customer experience is essentially the overall brand experience. From discovery to checkout to post-purchase, the experience your customers have with your brand is largely shaped and influenced by the journey you create for them. Do it well, and you’ll see customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and even your business’s bottom line get a nice boost. Get it wrong, and don’t be surprised to see some customers go—sometimes forever.
But sometimes this is easier said than done. In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, it’s not uncommon for customers to jump between channels, often without even realising it, when engaging with brands online. For them, it doesn’t matter what channel they’re on; all that matters is that the brand experience is consistent—and consistently good—wherever they go.
Intelligent customer self-service solutions, like AI-powered chatbots and dynamic FAQs, are helping to transform the overall customer experience in powerful ways. Their biggest benefit is in how they empower customers to be autonomous along the customer journey, which research has shown to be their preference (versus calling customer service agents for help).
While this is just one of many ways that brands can take the customer experience up a notch today, the key takeaway of this is clear: The end-to-end customer experience is now seen as the ‘make or break’ for long-term business growth, customer retention, and so much more.
Why is customer experience so important?
Customer expectations today are higher than ever before. And knowing just how easy it is for a customer to defect to the nearest competitor when they can’t find what they’re looking for on your site—or elsewhere along the customer journey—the stakes around customer experience are incredibly high. So high that even one negative customer experience can lose a customer for life and potentially create a ripple effect that can influencer other customers’ perceptions, too. Why? Because customers who have had a negative experience are much more likely to talk about it, leave a bad review, and share their experience with their entire network.
Here’s why gaining a loyal customer matters. It has been found that ‘satisfied’ customers generate up to 2.6x more revenue for a business than ‘somewhat satisfied’ customers and a whopping 14x more revenue than a ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ customer. Even more, it costs brands seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to nurture a positive, existing customer relationship.
Therefore, offering a great customer experience is important not only because it’s the right thing to do, generally speaking, but also because it simply makes solid financial sense.
68% of marketing leaders say they are increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience.
— Salesforce: State of Marketing
What is the difference between customer experience and customer service?
Simply put, customer experience is the total experience that customers have with your brand. Customer service, on the other hand, is the specific experience that customers have when they need to find information, ask questions, resolve a problem, or even make a purchase.
In many ways, you can consider customer service to be one (large) part of the end-to-end customer experience. This is because customer service is oftentimes one of the only direct contacts that many customers have with brands today—especially online-only brands.
That’s why it’s so important for brands to make it easy for customers to get help when and where they need it, whether on a brand’s website, via social media, or through more traditional service channels, like email or phone. Automated customer self-service solutions are now helping to create a more immediately responsive customer service experience, giving customers a simple and easily accessible way to answer up to 70% of their questions on their own.
And when customers are able to do this intuitively throughout the customer journey, our own data has shown that it can increase conversions, boost average order value, reduce shopping cart abandonment, and more. This has made it incumbent upon brands to approach customer service through the same lens as they approach the entire customer experience. It’s all about removing any and all roadblocks along the customer journey that could hinder conversion.
So while many may say that ‘customer experience’ and ‘customer service’ are two entirely separate things that a brand needs to manage, the truth is that they go hand-in-hand. Quite frankly, while you might offer the most beautiful and compelling omnichannel brand experience known to man, failing to provide equally stellar customer service can undermine all of your well-intentioned customer experience efforts, fast.
The benefits of providing a good customer experience
Customer experience has become a household name among businesses of all shapes and sizes over the years for good reason: It is the key to a business’s long-term success. And although customer experience may take different forms in different brands and businesses, the value that investing in customer experience brings is, for all intents and purposes, priceless. So, if you haven’t gotten on the customer experience bandwagon yet, here’s why you should.
Who benefits from a good customer experience?
Everyone benefits from a good customer experience: your business, your customers, and pretty much anything else that touches your brand. A great customer experience, one that’s not only rooted in the quality of the products and services you offer but also in how you invite customers to engage with your brand across multiple touchpoints, can generate great customer feedback via positive word-of-mouth (WOM) that can propel your brand in ways you never imagined.
That’s why providing a truly stellar customer experience is a valuable—and dare we say, essential—investment in the future success of your business. In many ways, it’s the key to driving long-term customer satisfaction, happiness, retention, loyalty, and advocacy. So much that positive WOM alone has been shown to make up around 13% of a brand’s revenues (or, roughly, $6 trillion), often eclipsing other paid ad performance by a factor of 5x.
Long story short: When done right, a great customer experience means everyone wins. After all, the happier your customers are, the more they’ll sing your brand’s praises, and, as a result, the more likely they’ll stick around with your brand for the long haul. And all of this translates into greater lifetime customer value (LTV) and ongoing revenue growth opportunities.
“The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy."
— Dharmesh Shah, Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot.
What are the disadvantages of poor customer experience?
This might be obvious, but let’s drill down the point once more just to be safe. A poor customer experience can quickly become the demise of any brand. It increases customer churn, reduces potential revenue growth, drives negative WOM, and, in the end, funnels a lot more business into your nearest competitors. This is not a risk any brand should be willing to take.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of wiggle room here. Sixty-seven percent of customers have said that a bad experience with a brand is the reason they’ve decided to do business with another brand. And when they do have a bad experience, 37% say they’ll gladly share a negative review on social media—which, as we all know today, can quickly snowball into astronomical proportions and put brands in long-term ‘damage control’ mode.
The truth is, there is a lot more ‘bad’ that can come from offering a poor customer experience. But if losing customers—and, therefore, losing revenue growth opportunities, too—isn’t enough to convince you to change your strategy, nothing else will.
4 easy ways to improve the customer experience
If you’re reading this and you’ve said to yourself, “It’s about time we up the ante on our customer experience,” then you’re probably also wondering about where to start. True, improving your brand’s customer experience requires a good amount of digital transformation, and that’s not something that is going to happen overnight. However, there are a few things you can be more mindful of now that can get the customer experience moving in the right direction.
1. Think omnichannel
As mentioned above, today’s customers are hopping from your website to your social media channels to your customer service channels—on desktop, mobile, and even in the real world— typically, without even realising when they’re crossing from one channel to the next.
This is known as the omnichannel customer journey, and it’s the now de facto way that consumers engage with brands. So, this basically means one thing: Brands have no choice but to have a solid presence on the channels where their customers spend their time and money.
But deploying an omnichannel strategy doesn’t simply mean being on different channels; it’s more so about creating strong links between each of the channels, making it possible for brands to provide a seamless, asynchronous, frictionless, and ultimately useful customer experience that drives engagement, conversion, and the potential for revenue growth.
2. Embrace personalisation
Long gone are the days of one-size-fits-all. Today’s customers want to know that their wants, needs, and expectations are being met throughout the customer experience. In fact, about 86% of them say that personalisation now has at least some effect on their purchase decisions.
From your email marketing efforts to the customer information that both customer service agents and customer self-service solutions, like automated chatbots, have access to over the course of a customer interaction—and every other step along the customer journey—there are myriad opportunities to make the customer experience personal.
This might involve offering customers unique offers based on their past purchases, incentivising follow-up purchases with targeted discounts, and anything else that essentially meets customers wherever they are in their relationship with your brand.
From the customer service perspective, it might mean that agents—or customer self-service solutions—can track the full history of a service request or access a customer’s profile, to check on past purchases and other useful information, to ensure that the interaction is as quick and painless as possible, ultimately leaving the customer with a positive resolution.
3. Weave in customer self-service solutions
Customers like being autonomous in their interactions with brands. If they need information or help, they’d much rather attempt to resolve their issues themselves first before having to reach out to customer service—either via phone, email, or live chat—for further support.
Automated customer service chatbots and dynamic FAQs, for example, can help customers answer up to 70% of their (most frequently asked) questions quickly and easily. This has the added benefit of reducing the number of requests into customer service, which then gives customer service agents the space and time to focus on more complex customer issues.
4. Support customers proactively
Many people don’t realise that customer self-service solutions go well beyond the traditional ‘problem-solution’ customer service dynamic. For instance, when these intelligent, AI-driven solutions are embedded as ‘help widgets’ throughout your site, they can serve customers up with timely and contextually relevant content that can answer customer questions before they even know they have a question to ask. Our Smart Push solution is not only a great example of this but also proof that proactive support can quickly boost conversion by as much as 20%.
Examples of companies with great customer experience
Many companies today realise the importance of customer experience—and know they are competing for their customers’ love and attention on the basis of customer experience alone. So, it should come as no surprise that great examples of customer experience in action are not few and far between these days. Here are just a few of our favorites:
If you’ve ever ordered an Uber, you know just how quick, convenient, and easy the process is. All people have to do is open their Uber app and pop in a destination address—and then, typically, just a few minutes later, a car arrives to pick you up. And for everything else, from leaving tips to seeing past ride history to contacting customer service, it can all be done easily via the Uber app or website. This is what it means to create a frictionless customer experience, one where there’s little—if anything—standing in your way to accomplish a specific task.
Ikea is a clever example of how a business can turn a potential pain point into a winning customer experience. Knowing just how sprawling many Ikea stores are, sometimes requiring shoppers to dedicate a few hours just to get through it all, they’ve been (just to name a few):
- Laid out creatively with in-context merchandising, supported by digital simulation tools that help shoppers better visualise how certain items might look in their own homes;
- Equipped with intuitive signage, including arrows on the floor, to both guide shoppers on their journey and also help keep the flow of traffic moving; and
- Closely linked to the Ikea app to add a thoughtful and useful cross-channel, cross-platform element to the in-store shopping experience.
And, of course, once shoppers have cleared the checkout counters, they are greeted with the tempting scent of Swedish meatballs wafting in the air, a well-deserved reward for finishing a long but likely successful (and cost-effective) shopping journey. It’s small customer experience details like these that make the brand memorable and keep customers coming back for more.
It might be easy to think that customer experience only pertains to consumer-facing brands. But it actually plays a huge role in the B2B world as well. Take FedEx, for example, America’s second most-trusted B2B company. They’ve figured out ways to take the hassle out of sending and receiving packages—of all shapes and sizes—and have made big strides in streamlining their customer communications to focus on quality and relevancy over quality. Additionally, as a mission- and value-driven business, one that’s firmly dedicated to being a socially responsible brand, they go above and beyond to drive impact at scale. And this has helped them not only boost customer satisfaction but also become a vendor of choice for many businesses around the world. This is all customer experience, just the B2B version of it.
Smart Tribune can take your customer experience to the next level
Although customer service—or, rather, customer self-service—is just one part of the customer experience equation, implementing intelligent self-service solutions that prioritise customer experience management can make an immediate and marked impact on a brand’s overall customer experience.
Good news for you, Smart Tribune has a full suite of customer self-service solutions that can be tailor-made to address your key business challenges or pressing customer needs. This includes Smart Bot, our AI-powered chatbot and Smart Push, our in-context, anticipatory help widget.
If you’re not entirely sold on customer self-service solutions quite yet, be sure to check out these 30 key customer service trends. This can shed a bit of light on how and where your brand might be falling slightly behind on the digital customer service front.
And when you’re ready to take your customer experience up a notch with customer self-service solutions, our team is ready to help. Be sure to schedule a demo today.