Everyone is talking about customer journey and customer experience. But what is behind it? Why is a good customer experience so important for companies? And how can companies ensure a good customer experience?
I am tying my new “on”-running shoes when it happens: an eyelet on my right shoe tears. That’s it – my sunny run is over and so are my shoes for which I’ve just spent a fortune. I head over to Facebook to complain about it. Shortly after that, an employee from “on” contacts me. A photo of the broken shoe is enough – a few days later I receive a package with a new pair of shoes in the color of my choice.
In retrospect, this was a very critical point in my customer experience or CX for short. If the company hadn’t been so accommodating, I probably wouldn’t have bought another pair of „on“ shoes, let alone use „on“ today as an example of an excellent customer experience.
What exactly is a „customer experience“? The author Matt Watkinson defines it like this: „The customer experience describes the quality of every interaction of a person with a company, its products or services, no matter at which point in time”. This definition clarifies that a good customer experience is subjective and not limited to the relationship between the customer and the company. It is rather about the impression I gain by coming into contact as an individual with a company and its brands or services. I don’t necessarily have to be a customer: Even if I don’t have an Amazon-Prime account, I have an opinion about the brand and the offer because I associate certain characteristics, assumptions or experiences with it. This also part of the customer experience.
It is difficult to win customers through an excellent customer experience. But it’s a powerful tool to keep customers. Studies show that customer loyalty depends largely on how easily the customer manages to achieve his goal with a product or service. If a customer has a bad experience today, he can complain about it on social media and drive away potential customers. Therefore it is from my point of view a necessity and not just a „nice extra“ to focus on a holistic, emotional customer experience.
But how does that work? Over the years, I have identified four principles that help create a good customer experience.
If you don’t know who your target customers are, you can’t adapt the customer experience to their needs. Companies need a clear picture of the customer’s stages of life, what their goals and values are, what experience they have already gained with similar products and services, and what is important to them. You should know how your customers make purchasing decisions and what their everyday lives look like.
Clayton Christensen once said that customers buy a product or service because they want to achieve a certain goal („Customers don’t just buy products, they hire them to do a job“). The easier it is for the customer to achieve the goal, the more satisfied and loyal he is. Make this principle your guiding principle for every customer journey! It is important to let the customer decide. This also includes always thinking about the customer journey from the customer’s point of view and keeping it consistent. Because the customer doesn’t care that he comes into contact with many individual areas of a company during his entire customer journey – such as marketing, the PR department, sales or customer service. If the customer experience is not designed and optimized in a customer-centric way, it can feel like a journey across a road with many potholes to the customer: Every time another area influences the customer’s journey, it gets bumpy. That’s exactly what we have to avoid – and that requires very good cooperation between the various divisions of the company.
Personal customer communication plays a central role in customer journey. It ensures that the customer receives relevant content or product recommendations. Email marketing is fast and inexpensive, and for example it is extremely tempting to send regular mass emails to customers in order to achieve sales goals. However, even if this is technically possible, you should not make any unneeded use of it. Because there is a name for this – spam. Customers punish spam immediately. Studies show that 78% of customers unsubscribe from newsletters if they receive too many e-mails. The situation is similar with push notifications. 37% deactivate push notifications if they receive notifications two to five times a week. If there are more than ten notifications per week, 21% do not use the app at all anymore. These are alarming numbers because customers who log off or stop using the app are no longer reachable. This makes it all the more important to individualize interactions so that the content offers real added value for the customer.
Finally, test all your assumptions. The fact that everyone is a customer himself is not always helpful when it comes to creating the best customer experience. The conviction that you can serve as an exemplary customer yourself is too tempting. It’s easy to forget that the target group may think quite differently from you. Either quantitative A/B tests and experiments or qualitative user tests, interviews or focus groups – tests open your eyes and promote a genuine understanding of the customer.
Now it’s up to you: good luck with your customer journey!