What is customer experience?
Customer experience can be thought of as all of the ways that customers engage with your company and brand throughout the entire lifecycle of their time as your customer. Through this lens, it includes everything from customer care to advertising, packaging and public relations to product and service features to reliability and ease of use. It is therefore a broader concept than solely what a customer experiences when they enter your store, as it involves both direct and indirect contact with your company, as well as emotional and subjective responses to it.
Many companies focus on the direct contact a person has with their company, during the purchase transaction, when using the product or service, or during any after-sales service interactions. Indirect contact is often overlooked, but could potentially be just as, or sometimes even more, important. Indirect contact typically takes the form of unintentional contact with your company’s products, services, brands or personnel; for example, word of mouth recommendations or criticisms, news reports, advertising, impressions of brand representatives outside of the store, and the list goes on.
As such, the experience a customer has with your brand starts before you are even aware that they are a potential customer.
Most companies only track customer satisfaction, which implies that they are gauging their success at wowing customers only at the time of purchase or when they have a problem to be resolved. But, what if you were never given the opportunity to wow them because they had a negative experience with your brand before one of your sales representatives even knew they existed? How disappointed would you feel if your sales team delivered exceptional service, but the product arrived defective or late because your outsourced transportation provider dropped the ball? Or, what if through some hiccup in the administrative process the customer decided not to do business with you after all?
Understanding customer experience
Understanding your organisation’s customer experience first requires an understanding of how customers interact with your organisation before they become a customer, during all direct transactions and interactions with your organization, right up to the end when they are no longer a customer. This is known as the customer journey. During this journey, customers will interact with your organisation both directly and indirectly through various touchpoints, such as customer service, product and service delivery, websites, advertising, after-sales service, and so on. And these touchpoints exist within an ecosystem or network of your organisation’s customers, employees, suppliers, vendors and overall operating environment. The quality of your organisation’s customer experience, therefore, often involves more than just your organisation.
Measuring Customer Experience
The key to enabling positive and memorable customer experiences that turn customers into brand ambassadors lies in understanding the journeys that they take, the touchpoints that provide direct contact and the overall ecosystem within which they are engaging with your company. You cannot manage customer experience if you cannot measure it. Through a range of techniques – such as surveys, focus groups, ethnographic and other observational studies (‘shop alongs’), customer diaries, product co-design activities and internal analytics – we suggest measuring three broad areas:
- how well your company met your customers’ needs;
- how easy it was to do business with your organisation; and,
- how enjoyable it was when doing business with your organization.
When identifying the metrics that will form your customer experience monitoring system, think about the entire customer journey, your various touchpoints and the overall ecosystem. Successful management hinges on a comprehensive view of the entire customer experience and determining which levers to pull to foster as positive and as memorable an experience with your company as possible.
Want to learn more about improving customer experience in your organisation? Contact us here.