The modern customer is one that is informed. More so than ever before, consumers are invested in making conscious purchase decisions, thoroughly researching the product, and receiving above and beyond customer service. In fact, among surveyed consumers, Kustomer found that 79% believe customer service is extremely important in deciding where to shop. In order to compete in the era of the new consumer, businesses need to be prepared to not only meet but exceed expectations. This can be accomplished by integrating a comprehensive customer experience (CX) strategy throughout their organizations. CX concerns more than just the customer service department; the most successful integrated CX strategy needs to be implemented across departments, from sales to product development.
What Is CX Strategy?
Before developing a streamlined, companywide CX strategy, it’s important to understand the difference between customer service and customer experience, as well as the benefits of CX and the cost of neglect.
CX versus CS
In order to move forward with an exhaustive customer experience strategy, it’s important to understand the significant differences between customer experience (CX) and customer service (CS). Customer service generally refers to the direct interaction between the customer and the company. This interaction is often initiated by the customer rather than the company, such as when a customer has a question about a product prior to making a purchase or is dissatisfied after completing a purchase. While customer service is an essential element in which every business should seek to excel, it is only one piece of the larger puzzle that is great customer experience.
The customer experience involves not only direct interactions initiated by the customer, but also indirect interactions that take place without obvious input from the brand, such as referrals, social media and ads, that add up to a customer’s overall perception of a brand. A comprehensive CX strategy is designed to facilitate a streamlined customer journey, starting from initial discovery all the way through to loyal brand advocacy.
Benefits of a CX strategy
There is immense value in controlling the narrative lens through which current and prospective customers view your brand. By taking a holistic approach to the customer experience, brands can control the methods by which customers engage with your brand, rather than leaving it up to the chance of a customer contacting you after something has gone wrong. This strategy also empowers brands to connect with customers on a deeper level; when the customer views your brand as a resource through which to make important purchase decisions rather than simply a means to an end, it builds greater trust in your brand and can even increase the overall spend per customer. The heightened level of connection and engagement with customers also increases the trackability of interactions with your brand and the success of your marketing initiatives.
The calculated results of a successful CX strategy are more than enough to constitute the transition from customer service to customer experience. In fact, 95% of consumers who rate a company’s CX as “very good” are likely to recommend the company, and 94% are likely to repurchase. With this in mind, effective customer experience goes beyond the power to satisfy current customers and extends to creating recurring customer loyalty and bringing in new customers by recommendation.
The cost of CX neglect
While an effective CX strategy can drive significant positive results, neglecting the customer experience also has its own costs. A recent NewVoiceMedia study showed that businesses are losing $75 billion per year as a result of poor customer experience. Why such a large number? A study by Simplr revealed just how unforgiving customers can be after enduring a bad customer service experience. For example, 50% of customers said they were likely to tell a friend or post on social media about a bad customer experience, and 55% expressed they are likely to leave a negative review. While these effects are substantial and measurable, 40% said they would go so far as to stop shopping with a brand altogether after bad customer experience; a customer silently walking away is a harder number to quantify but is strong evidence that customer experience neglect can have immediate and detrimental effects on conversion rates, customer loyalty, and brand perception.
Getting CX Buy-in, Company Wide
Rather than implementing a piecemeal approach to customer experience, handpicking only certain teams to be responsible for the CX strategy, C-level executives should focus on a system of education and support to bake the customer-first mindset into the very fabric of the organization.
From the top down
In order to successfully develop and integrate a comprehensive CX strategy companywide, you need companywide buy-in from the top down. The initiative to engrain the customer experience as part of the entire organization’s DNA, rather than only the customer support team, needs to start at the C-suite level. The customer is the direct source of company revenue, which impacts every individual member of every team. With this in mind, it’s essential for executives to implement cross-team education and training in effective customer experience strategies and the role that everyone plays in a seamless CX strategy. Companies can even consider incentive programs for positive contributions to the CX strategy, regardless of how directly or indirectly the team interacts with a customer.
While customer service success may be measured by reviews and similar metrics, an exhaustive CX strategy calls for new key performance indicators (KPIs). The CX strategy touches every step of the customer journey, and as a result, the measurement of success needs to extend into every step, as well. Companies need to rethink what quantitative data you collect, such as average response time and net promoter score, and how it coordinates with qualitative data, such as customer service questionnaires, to support decisions in the ongoing development of the CX strategy.
Departmental Impact of CX Strategy
So, whose responsibility is customer experience? The answer: customer experience is everyone’s responsibility. An effective CX strategy is one that involves every team throughout an organization, those who never have direct one-on-one interaction with customers and those whose entire job revolves around customer interaction are equally responsible.
Sales and marketing
As mentioned above, an integrated CX strategy facilitates a deeper connection and understanding of customer behavior. In sales and marketing, understanding the needs and wants throughout the sales funnel is incredibly beneficial in being able to predict customer tendencies and answer their questions before they can ask them. For example, there has been a recent shift in buyer sentiment which has resulted in many consumers placing greater importance in company transparency when it comes to policies and corporate social responsibility. With a comprehensive CX strategy, organizations have an established baseline through which to provide that needed transparency to customers, building trust and loyalty from the very beginning of the customer journey.
The trackability of consumer purchasing data benefits not only the beginning of the sales funnel, but also the long-term effectiveness of marketing techniques. For example, marketing teams can leverage recurring customer data to re-engage previous customers based on their preferences, with a hyper-personalized email retargeting campaign.
While product developers may not have the direct customer interaction that sales or customer service may have, the product itself is the primary reason that the customer is engaging with the company in the first place. It’s essential for product developers to have a keen understanding of customer behaviors, needs, and purchase preferences in order to continuously hone the product, catering to the ideal target audience.
In fact, 64% of consumers who rated a company’s CX as “very good” said they’d be “very likely” to try a company’s new product or service immediately after launch. That important statistic is directly impacted by product development. A customer will not have a “very good” reaction to their experience if they are dissatisfied with the product. On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of those that enjoy the product are likely to purchase a brand new product based on their previous experience alone. In other words, a phenomenal CX strategy is not complete without a product that exceeds the expectations of the customer.
Integrating your CX strategy throughout your e-commerce site is essential to facilitating positive and conversion-creating customer interactions. User experience, search functionality, and service accessibility are all very important elements of an e-commerce site built for a seamless customer experience. To achieve optimal accessibility of customer support in e-commerce, companies can incorporate a live, easily navigated chat service — bot or human — that can represent your brand, engage with customers, and answer questions that convert at a high rate. According to a survey from Hotjar, the number one CX frustration is long wait and response times. It’s essential that any chat solution be equipped to improve the time it takes to efficiently resolve customer issues and questions.
Learn How to Turn CX Into a Team Sport
The only truly effective way to implement a thorough and comprehensive CX strategy is to create one that is fully integrated through inter-and intra-departmental cooperation. The culture of customer experience should be baked into the entire company’s DNA. But how can businesses go from a customer service mindset to a customer experience mindset? If you’re ready to learn how to rally an entire organization for the better of the customer experience and educate every team to drive business innovation through CX strategy, download our guide “Why CX Is Team Sport.”