Does your Customer Experience meet consumer expectations?

27th May 2015

While price and value for money are undoubtedly key factors in whether a business is going to be successful, today’s enterprises have to deliver a customer experience that matches consumer expectations. And this has to be provided successfully across every channel at a time of increasing consumer choice if customers are going to remain loyal. But how do you know what customers expect and where improvements might be needed?

Before exploring this, it’s worth stressing how important customer experience really is. For example, a Forrester survey of 7,500 US consumers found that customer experience is a more powerful driver of customer loyalty than perceptions about relative price and value. And a Harris Interactive Survey found that an overwhelming 86% of consumers are willing to pay for a “better” customer experience.

Increasing demands from customers
People’s expectations are always changing and in general the bar is constantly being raised.  This means you constantly need to track what customers expect and look for ways to improve the experience you deliver.

The easiest way to understand how people perceive the customer experience delivered by your organisation is simply to ask customers about it.  Marketing and customer service departments have long used surveys, qualitative interviews and focus groups to understand how customers experience the service they receive from brands.

But now, the availability of new tools and technology means organisations are turning to real-time feedback collection to give them an ongoing, up-to-date picture of what customers think about their experience across all steps in the customer journey.

The customer experience journey
Think of customer experience as how each consumer interacts with your brand. For many businesses today this starts with the consumer’s first visit to your website and moves through to the point at which they purchase – and beyond to if they contact your company for post-sales support. Every interaction, every touch point — from how easy it is to unwrap the packaging, to how difficult your phone number is to remember — adds to that customer experience.

Real-time feedback helps measure the experience by collecting customer opinions at every touch point, enabling you to capture negative and positive trends as they emerge.  It can be gathered in a variety of ways, from text, email and social media to interactive telephone surveys that collect survey responses from customers. 

The benefits of real-time feedback
It’s important to capture feedback at every stage of the journey because this level of detail can reveal exactly where the customer experience maybe falling down. For example, you may wonder why a high percentage of customers to your ecommerce site give up just before they go through to the checkout page. Analysing customer feedback could show that many visitors are confused by the delivery charge information they see on the on the preceding web page and therefore leave the site.

The importance of collecting feedback in real-time cannot be stressed enough. Customers are much more likely to provide their opinions if they are given an immediate opportunity to do so at the time of each interaction. After all, it is much more natural and less intrusive to comment on something as it happens than to receive a call or email hours or days later.

In fact neuroscience tells us that much of the detail about a customer’s interaction with a company is lost within minutes, very little information makes it into their long term memory. So, people are more likely to give an accurate insight into their experience if they are asked at the time of the interaction – rather than being forced to recall facts about something that happened in the past.

And of course, if your company picks up on negative feedback from a customer in real-time, you still have the time to respond and turn the customer’s poor experience into a positive one.

Providing a holistic view
Once you have collected customer experience feedback it can be integrated with other data sources such employee feedback or marketing and sales data. This provides a holistic view of what influences the customer experience and how this impacts the performance of other parts of the business. Are failings in the online customer experience impacting sales or the success of marketing promotions?

You can also incorporate customer experience feedback with other incoming customer information such as logs of chat sessions, emails, call centre recordings, and social media comments and interactions. The resulting Voice of the Customer analysis goes much further than looking at customer satisfaction and helps businesses understand the customer’s needs, goals and values, along with the company’s level of success in meeting these requirements.

In the long term, analysing customers’ feedback about the way they experience your company along with wider Voice of the Customer data can help provide insights and ideas to drive the development of better products and services built around what customers really want, rather than what you think they need. But to make it an accurate reflection of the customer experience, it is important to capture it in real-time, across every touch point.


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