Creative thinking that delivers results

06 Sep

Customer Experience (CX) – What it really means

Category: Customer service
Written by: Ian Turner
customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer service

Many marketing buzzwords have emerged in the past decade as the digital realm has continued to evolve. SEO, buyer’s journeys, marketing analytics and geo targeting are but a few of the terms marketers banter about in their efforts to validate what they bring to the boardroom table. One such term has evoked both a new and old world flair - client experience. It has taken on a nirvana-like persona as many businesses strive to enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy online.

So what is client experience all about? Is it just another cliché term or does it have more far reaching business implications that could even have an impact on ROI? We hope you’ll get a better understanding of the critical role CX plays in business today by reading this blog and see how it fits into your marketing strategy and plan and can provide a competitive advantage in your market.

The CX explosion

Marketers and business leaders alike have always cared about the customer experience in one form or another. Most wanted to have customers that liked them and the products and services they offered. They wanted these customers to be loyal to the business and its products so there would be a greater likelihood of repeat business and a disinclination to defect to a competitor. None of this is new.

What has transformed the marketing and business world and elevated customer experience to a whole new level has been the explosion and continued evolution of the digital sphere. The World Wide Web by definition has made it more possible than ever for customers to share their thoughts and opinions with thousands of others in a click of a mouse.

The prominent role online reviews play as an influencer in the consumer purchase decision has been a big reason for the increased attention paid to CX. Marketers understand that these reviews can have a major impact on how consumers view their brand and they must ‘wrap their arms’ around these customers in order to ensure they are satisfied.

The role of loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are often deemed to be a great way to accomplish the CX goal, and there’s no doubt a well-designed loyalty program can go a long way to satisfying many customers. However the proliferation of loyalty programs, an inability to differentiate oneself through these programs along with growing customer expectations for more personalized experiences has upped the ante when it comes to customer satisfaction and CX.

CX has evolved in large part as a response to the increased expectations of customers and their ability to share their opinions with the masses. As customer expectations have increased so has the need for businesses to provide more customized solutions and offerings that will resonate with them.

More and more companies realize they can no longer have a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to customer satisfaction as is often the case with loyalty programs; a true customer-centric solution requires delving deeper into their needs, wants and expectations.

How and why CX can make a difference

To paint the picture in simplest terms, customer behaviour has dictated the evolution of CX. They have told marketers that if you want our support, you need to treat us as individuals with our own unique needs or we will voice our displeasure online. CX is thus geared to uncovering these needs and wants and mapping them in such a way that businesses can realistically do something with this information.

While there are many ways to identify and distinguish customer experience for a business, we believe that ideal way to do this is via a client segments or “buying personas” approach. For the purpose of this discussion we will consider these two terms to be interchangeable.

Customer segments and personas

Ideally speaking, customer segments/personas should share similar characteristics – such as interests, preferences, dislikes and expectations. Marketers can then assemble these customers into one relatively homogeneous group so marketing, sales and customer service and operations can design messages that can be disseminated to this entire group. This enables businesses to provide ‘customized’ client messages at scale that will still resonate and be relevant to them.

Each business unit must then attempt to deliver an optimal CX to the members of these groups by touching on the key factors of greatest importance to them. And this needs to be coordinated at a higher, more strategic level so everyone is on the same page and is working to the same common goal. Anything less and the this whole initiative can fall flat on its face!

In doing all this the right way and for all the right reasons, companies can create a posse of ‘raving fans’ that will be both loyal customers and brand ambassadors (“advocates”) for the business.

A new business reality

In many ways this requires a multi-faceted, multi-channel strategy where all areas of the business are working together to achieve this common goal. Egos and departmental goals need to be set aside for the common good of the customers and the company as a whole. This can be challenging to achieve but businesses simply need to rethink how they set business targets and communicate with their people if they want to successful with their CX initiatives.

This is where senior management must get involved by tweaking department objectives and sending out clear and strong messages to staff to ensure everyone is fully aligned not only with the business’ objectives but of those of each client segment group. This can be a cumbersome and time-consuming task but it’s the only way firms can develop meaningful CX goals that will have any substance and value.

That is why many marketers and businesses are being asked to refine and define what CX really means to their organizations. In the end, it boils down to having a two-pronged approach – one focused on the customer with the other on the bottom line. Clearly not an easy task, but in this competitive and customer-centric business climate we operate in, this is a necessity nonetheless. Let us know if we can help you refine the CX strategy for your business!