Customer experience is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This means every touch impacts that experience positively or negatively. Your ability to deliver an experience that sets you apart in the eyes of your customers serves to increase how much they spend with you and, optimally, inspire loyalty to your brand.
To create a superior customer experience requires you to first understand the customer’s point of view. Only by standing in your customer’s shoes can you appreciate the full impact of the day-to-day customer experience that your company delivers.
In the New Economy it’s becoming more challenging to grow your business. Products are becoming commoditized, price differentiation is no longer sustainable and customers are demanding more. To compete, companies are focusing on delivering superior customer experiences. A study of over 860 corporate executives revealed that companies that have increased their investment in customer experience management over the past three years report higher customer referral rates and customer satisfaction (Strativity Group, 2009). Many experts feel that the customer experience has emerged as the single most important aspect in achieving success for companies across all industries.
As evidenced by the number of business casualties over the past few years most companies talk about becoming customer focused, but few actually do it. Doing customer satisfaction surveys is one thing, changing the company’s culture based on what was learned from the surveys in something totally different. If you want to grow your business in today’s marketplace you’ll need to get serious about the customer experience you deliver.
Here are a couple of examples of how successful CEOs are using their customer experience to grow their businesses.
Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel uses hand written notes as a way to show customers appreciation. Hess says. ” I know it’s kind of old fashioned, but I think in today’s digital world customers notice and appreciate that we take time to write letters to them.” The idea came about when an employee and his team started writing customers thanking them based on their longevity. Since they did it every Thursday, it’s become “thank you Thursdays” company-wide.
As companies add more technology they make doing business with them more complex. Improving the customer experience means they must help customers manage the complexity they face. Successful companies are finding ways to simplify products and services while making them easier to use. As Steve Hennigan CEO of San Antonio Credit Union explains, “Customers must have a seamless experience with our organization no matter which channel they choose.”
Hennigan uses the process of purchasing a mortgage as an example of how his organization must tame the complexity monster for his customers and deliver a seamless experience.
“In the mortgage space we’ve got to allow you the opportunity to make a loan via the phone, via the Web, via the call center, or via one of our branch interfaces. And we’ve got to do it so that it’s as if you’re in one channel. Say for example you’re doing research in one channel and you start an application process on-line, but then you get stuck and you want to talk to somebody You ought to be able to seamlessly jump into another channel without us making you do the extra work as the consumer… the technology must seem simple to the user although it may be very complex on the back to provide a simple solution, which is: I start on-line and then when I get stuck I can go get a face-to-face and I don’t have to start from the very beginning again.”
Both of these CEOs know that growth starts and ends with the customer experience and it’s up to them to constantly innovate ways to improve it.
Is the customer experience you deliver helping you grow your business? What ways can you improve your customer experience so that you can grow your business? I suggest that business owners and CEOs take one area of customer experience each month and improve it. By the end of the year they will improve twelve ares. Plus improving one area often has a compounding effect on other areas. This is a simple and straight forward approach to grow your business one customer experience at a time.