Steve Cannon, the CEO and president of Mercedes-Benz USA, has said that “Customer Experience is the new marketing.” Companies and customers alike have embraced this notion, and for this reason, companies are competing on customer experience now more than ever.
With so much noise in the digital space, it takes more than slick copy and ads filled with big promises to foster customer loyalty. Loyalty requires an experience that not only keeps customers onboard, but also motivates them to share the experience with their friends and colleagues.
A study by Gartner revealed that twenty-five percent of CMOs expect their CEOs to lead with customer experience (CX), so let’s briefly define what CX is. In a nutshell, Customer Experience is the overall perception a customer has of a company. There are many factors that create this perception, and the bedrock is made of touchpoints that exceed customer expectations.
What can companies do to compete on customer experience?
“Experience” is a relatively esoteric word. The good news is, when it comes to CX, there are metrics that can be applied to effectively measure where a company is meeting or missing customer expectations. When a company has identified their customer expectations and whether or not those expectations are being met, that company can implement changes that can close the gap between the two.
These are the three metrics that best define where a company is in terms of CX management:
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS stands for Net Promoter Score. A company’s NPS represents the number of their customers that would be likely to recommend them to friends and family on a scale of one to ten. NPS surveys also usually ask the question “why or why not.”
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
This is a measurement of a company’s customer satisfaction. CSAT scores are calculated by asking customers to rate several different components or touch points within a customer journey on a scale, usually from one to ten. The CSAT is more detailed in data than the NPS.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
CES is a Customer Effort Score. How much effort does it take for a customer to resolve an issue or complete a transaction? While simple in terms of definition, CES may be the most important of the three scores because surveys have shown that one of the strongest factors in creating loyalty is the amount of effort a customer must put forth in interactions with a company.
This article provides more detailed information on these scores and how the needed data is collected.
Once a company has determined its CX strengths and weaknesses, it can develop and implement new tools and platforms to close the gap between customer expectations and their CX architecture.
For instance, if a company needs to improve their CES, they can take a look at their company/customer communication channels. This could mean onboarding platforms like video chat or CoBrowsing.
If a company is below average with their NPS, they could incentivize referrals through a rewards program.
If a company is weak in CSAT, they can restructure the scope of the customer journey to provide more support in problem areas.
The metrics mentioned above are vital when it comes to competing on customer experience, but they are useless unless the data is used to make and implement changes.
Creating a competitive customer experience is not a ‘set it and forget it’ task. With every major change or addition to the customer journey, the CX scores should be re-evaluated.
Customer Think has developed a “Customer Experience Readiness Scale” and improvement is the final step in their process. As Ian Golding, a customer experience consultant explains: “This is the enigma or nirvana – the phase to get to that ensures meeting and exceeding customer needs becomes just a way of life.”
Customer Experience has become the new battleground for forward-thinking companies. Because customers are so connected on a global scale due to the technology of digital communication, a single customer experience can have massively impactful results whether good or bad.
A good CX can drive a viral story, exposing the virtues of a company to thousands of new prospects.
A bad CX can take off on social media and become a PR nightmare that can have devastating effects on a company’s brand image and bottom line.
Companies that will thrive on this still-somewhat-new battleground will have recognized the importance of CX; they will have measured it and made efforts to develop practices that can allow them to compete with other companies in their industry and they will constantly be striving to improve the experience that their customers have.