In the world of commerce, customer experience is the interaction between the customer and an organization over the total duration of their customer relationship. A good customer experience is the sum of the individuals experience over all three points of the interaction, resulting in satisfaction for both customer and company that matches the customer’s expectations.
Three phases defining customer experience
Customer experience can be broken down into three phases: the customer’s journey; the touch points with the brand that the customer is interacting with; and the environment that the customer will experience during the interaction, including the digital environment. Customer experience requires customer involvement at several different levels – the rational, sensorial, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Different responses to different contacts
A customer will respond differently to either a direct or indirect contact with the company, and the customer experience depends on how the interaction is treated in either form by the company. Direct contact is normally when the purchase, sale or service is initially initiated by the customer, resulting in a direct sale of goods or services. Indirect contact usually involves some form of advertizing media that promotes encounters with the customer, such as direct advertising, news reporting, word of mouth, unplanned encounters, and even criticism.
Direct versus indirect contacts
Customer experience is normally defined as the personal responses of the customer that are in line with the company that have resulted in customer satisfaction, or dissatisfaction. This can happen in both direct and indirect contacts, and does not necessarily mean the customer has purchased goods or a service. Direct contact is the purchase of goods or services that produce a reaction in the customer, whether good or bad, in the place where customers usually buy goods or services, such as online stores, physical stores with a face-to-face interaction, and customer service contact that is initiated by the customer through online media or over the phone. Indirect contact does not need to have included a purchase or use, and can be seen in the form of the customer’s reaction to news reports, advertising media, customer reviews, criticism, and other methods. Indirect contact also does not require either a physical contact with the company, or any form of direct contact that has resulted in a sale, although in some circumstances, a sale or use has been completed.
Indirect contact does not need to have included a purchase or use, and can be seen in the form of the customer’s reaction to news reports, advertising media, customer reviews, criticism, and other methods. Indirect contact also does not require either a physical contact with the company, or any form of direct contact that has resulted in a sale, although in some circumstances, a sale or use has been completed.
Interactions must be personal and unique
Every event in the course of the customer’s interaction with the company becomes a part of the customer experience, whether before, during, or after a sale or purchase. Every interaction that results in a customer experience is both personal and unique and provides stimulation to all the sensory, rational, physical, and emotional aspects of the interaction in order to create a memorable experience for the customer that they will not forget. The customer experience concept can be seen in interactions with various kinds of companies and organizations around the world. It does not necessarily require the company or organization to have a product or service which the customer can obtain or use. In the retail industry, both customer and company play major roles in creating a good customer experience. However, customer experience can also be created between a private citizen and an organization that does not provide goods or services for sale, such as a government organization, and the customer’s interaction therein. In this kind of interaction, there is no sale of any kind, rather the customer experience is based solely on the service provided by the organization or government department they are dealing with, and the resulting interaction can lead to both positive and negative customer experiences.
In the retail industry, both customer and company play major roles in creating a good customer experience. However, customer experience can also be created between a private citizen and an organization that does not provide goods or services for sale, such as a government organization, and the customer’s interaction therein. In this kind of interaction, there is no sale of any kind, rather the customer experience is based solely on the service provided by the organization or government department they are dealing with, and the resulting interaction can lead to both positive and negative customer experiences.
Developing of the customer experience
In recent years, the customer experience has emerged as the most important aspect of the customer/company interaction, which can lead to the success of a company within its defined marketplace. As prices can no longer be completely differentiated, and products become more commoditized, delivering a superior customer experience becomes the major focus for companies, particularly service providers in the communications industry (landline, mobile, broadband, wireless, satellite, cable, etc).
Diversity in staff triggers loyalty in customers
With the development of the various tools used to integrate and automate the organization of customer information in better, more efficient ways, companies can implement processes and principles to improve the customer’s perception of the company, their level of satisfaction, and their overall customer commitment. One of the methods used by companies to achieve this is to hire a more diverse staff base, which in turn attracts a more diverse and loyal customer base. Moreover, by differentiating their brand, a company can increase their sales efficiency and effectiveness to better reduce customer attrition. A 2009 study involving over 800 companies found that, where a company had increased their investment in the management and care of customer experiences over a three year period, they reported much higher rates of customer referrals and increased customer satisfaction.
Digital experience results in new strategies
And with the increased growth in technology and the massive influx of digital sales and marketing, customer experience is no longer limited to that face-to-face interaction in a bricks-and-mortar store. The major move of the consumer to the digital and online channels has lead to a digital customer experience, which requires a finer focus on the individual person rather than by appealing to a mass audience. This digital experience has allowed companies to improve their customer experience management and move away from the typical marketing techniques and into more experiential marketing strategies.
Understand what the customer wants and deliver above that expectation
Developing a positive customer experience can be challenging, as there is a multiplicity of aspects that can be associated with the whole customer experience interaction. From customer service to brand ethics, and the ideal shopping environment, all of this can have an effect on the customer’s experience with the brand. The need to understand what makes a positive customer experience has become an essential part of all business management, in order to combat the growth in competition within the market.
Today’s consumer is well informed, with multiple channels from which to obtain information about the products that interest them, and product comparison is often done during the sales interaction, along with reading online reviews and recommendations to help them make their decision. Customers today are looking for that wholly unique interaction that can fulfill their expectations and create a positive overall experience for them. Any brand that can provide this unique experience can gain a foothold over their major competitors. The development of a positive behavioral culture within the staff can mean a greater competitive advantage for a company.
Article published in E-commerce