Customer Experience, commonly known as CX, has become a more crucial part of the marketing process than ever before. In fact, according to IT research and advisory company, Gartner, 89% of businesses will soon compete mainly on customer experience.
Why is it so important, and what exactly is CX? To answer these questions, let’s first go back for a moment to a simpler era. One when there was no social media, no Internet, and when people’s sole interaction with a product or service was in a store. Of course back then CX existed, but it was not as involved. It could have been as simple as having a nice store and nice owner who treated customers well. Customers did not have as many choices when deciding between products, and there was frequently not much transparency on the part of the company. This led to “blind-faith” brand loyalty.
Why Is CX on the Rise?
Fast-forward to today when there are so many choices that products and services are becoming commoditized, and customers usually experience multiple touch points with companies including online store, brick and mortar store, email, social media, and phone. After the advent of the Internet, customers increasingly gained access to more information. And this has contributed to many companies becoming more transparent. Customers now have the freedom to be more fickle than before when choosing, for instance, which bar of soap to lather up with. Not surprisingly, brand loyalty is decreasing, and companies need to find a way to differentiate themselves. And, that’s where CX comes in.
The Three Big Factors in CX
Depending on where you look, CX has varied definitions. Businessdictionary.com states it as “The entirety of the interactions a customer has with a company and its products.” Research firm Forrester describes it as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.”
In my mind, great CX consists of three main components:
- Think seamlessness, consistency and . Customers are probably interacting with multiple touch points for a given product/service, and all of these smaller experiences should add up to an overall cohesive experience. Efficient information sharing is also important. Remember how annoyed you were the last time you called customer service and were transferred to another person with whom you had to repeat your situation all over again.
- Intuitiveness and evoking emotion are key. Think user-friendly, beautiful platforms, products and spaces that are enjoyable to experience.
- Ensuring that CX stays fresh, intriguing and competitive is critical. A prime example of innovation done well is Amazon, who’s gone from online book seller to online seller of everything, and consistently challenges themselves to reinvent and offer their customers with new valuable experiences.
In addition to these three components, I believe it’s essential to make sure you are truly putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, so that you can understand how they perceive the experience. In other words, just because you think something functions well doesn’t mean your customer agrees.
How One Company Delivers Outstanding CX
One company that I think has stellar CX is Warby Parker, maker and retailer of affordable, trendy eyewear. In 2010, they defied conventional wisdom with their online approach to selling high-quality, affordable, well-designed eyewear. Their website makes it very easy to shop for frames by including an interactive view of someone in each pair at different angles, along with a detailed description of each pair, and what type of face they best suit. Two years after their launch, they started opening brick-and-mortar locations that are as beautifully designed as their website, and have a modern, intellectual, library-esque feel that makes you feel smarter just by being inside. Full-length mirrors and photo booths add to their uniqueness, and also serve a purpose. The company offers over 260 different styles of optical and sunwear frames, each in different colors, meaning that even the most discerning customers will find something they like. The frames themselves are well-designed and only $95 a pop (including any prescription). And, they offer a try-before-you-buy option, free shipping, as well as a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy. Your frames arrive in chic packaging that evokes the same emotion you felt when interacting with their other touch points. Possibly the biggest surprise to me was their customer service. When I called, I was greeted on the other side by an actual person.
Now that I have shared my thoughts on CX, it’s your turn. What’s your definition and what brands do you believe excel at its implementation?
Contributed by Kim Chapman, AMA Houston content writer and account manager at Blue Sky Marketing.
March 9, 2016