Each day it would seem, another article publishes on why customer experience is the new battleground. The last five years or so has seen the importance attributed to providing a good customer experience increase massively and there can be little doubt that any organisation not focused on this is going to have its work cut out retaining existing customers and attracting new ones.
So providing a quality customer experience is one of the most important challenges facing any brand in 2016 – how are they doing? According to a recent study by Econsultancy and IBM, 69% of marketers believe strongly in their ability to deliver superior experiences online. Yet there is a disconnect with what consumers are saying – the same research revealed that more than half of people who left a company blamed it on a bad online experience.
What’s behind this disconnect, and are brands really delivering on customer experience in the way that consumers now demand?
Customer experience not up to scratch?
There are many ways to know if your customer experience is not delivering – ideally you will be aware of these before customers start leaving. Social chat is a good indication and many brands invest in social media monitoring systems to stay on top of this.
In 2016, consumers are not backward at coming forward when it comes to leaving feedback on a brand’s products, services and the overall customer experience, so monitoring social channels can provide a decent overview of what people are thinking.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is used to measure performance through a customer’s eyes, benchmarking against the competition to evaluate a customer’s propensity to recommend or buy again. It isn’t a traditional customer satisfaction measurement tool, and simply measuring NPS won’t give a complete picture. But an increase in Detractors and a reduction in Promoters is undoubtedly a sign that the customer experience on offer is lacking.
How to deliver?
So if the signs are there that your customer experience is not what it needs to be, what are the best ways of improving it? I’d always say that any organisation should be completely customer-centric and that the customer experience should inform everything that organisation does. Of course, in companies that are already established, it is harder to implement such a strategy, but there is still no reason why a renewed focus on the customer cannot take place.
This involves gathering and capturing data and information on customers, and using that data to understand those customers like never before. Taking data from every single interaction and analysing that, will allow a brand to know what customers want (sometimes even before) and to offer them a contextual, personalised experience across a multitude of channels.
Omnichannel remains the ultimate goal for any smart organisation. Only this provides the seamless and consistent experience demanded by modern consumers and also allows a brand to address customer queries speedily, effectively and via the channel that the consumer wishes to deploy.
Mike Hughes is MD at PeopleTECH and one of the UK’s foremost customer experience experts, having worked for and consulted companies such Thomas Cook, BskyB and France Telecom on how best to deliver a first-class experience to their customers.