What do we mean when we use the term “customer experience” or CX?
CX is the sum of impressions associated with a brand for a particular customer. CX is built over different stages of the customer journey and encompasses all the interactions the customer has with the brand. It may include both positive and negative feelings, incidents, and expectations.
Customer experience can be linked with the direct experience and overall perceptions of:
- Value alignment
- Ease of access
- Omnichannel capabilities
While CX is sometimes equated with making more information available online, with customer surveys, or increasing digitization of customer interactions, it is more. Much more.
Commonly used snapshot measurements of CX like CSAT (Customer satisfaction) and NPS (Net promoter score) give executives a sense of it, but we should understand that true CX "goodwill" is not so easily measured and put on KPI dashboards.
CX is a continuous journey that begins with the first contact or impression from a brand or enterprise and continues for the life of the customer engagement.
Why CX Matters
As more of the world gets more accustomed to a digital-first buyer journey, especially with the challenges created by the pandemic, companies have focused on more engagement with their customers via digital channels. In an increasingly digital world where products and services are scrutinized in the court of public opinion, customer experience (CX) is king.
What truly makes for a good experience? Speed. Convenience. Consistency. Friendliness. And one big connector: human touch - that is, creating real connections by making technology feel more human, and also giving employees what they need to create better customer experiences.
People are increasingly more loyal to the retailers, products, brands, and devices that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress. Value is created from the complete CX.
Every interaction is a direct reflection of the company’s brand. Convenience—seamless transition from tablet to smartphone to desktop to human—is a baseline expectation.
The benefits of providing superior CX are increasingly clear:
- Consumers will pay a 16% price premium for a great customer experience AND are more likely to be loyal to the brand. – PwC
- Among US consumers, 63% say they’d share more information with a company that offers a great experience. - PwC
- “Customer Experience leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards, drive higher brand preference, and can charge more for their products.” – Forrester’s Rick Parish.
- #1 – By 2021, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator – Walker
- Consumers are 3.7x more likely to recommend an organization after a positive customer experience. - Qualtrics
- Maximizing satisfaction in the customer journey can lift revenues by up to 15% and lower the cost of serving customers by up to 20%. - McKinsey
The consequences of providing what is regarded as inferior CX are also quite clear:
- One in three consumers says they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience. This figure is even higher in Latin America, at 49%. – PwC
- 92% would completely abandon a company after 2 or 3 negative experiences. - PwC
Thus, we see increased attention on what it means to get CX right. Done right, technology can help companies create phenomenal customer experiences and reap the resulting benefits: however, a large majority of the top-performing companies report paying close attention to the human experience around digital and tech.
Companies won’t be able to solve their customer experience problems with technology alone—it’s just the enabler. Employees also need to be empowered, supported, and allowed to make mistakes, and a majority of customers around the world report that a positive experience with a brand is more important than advertising.
Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience. It is important to note that it is the combination of technology working together with competent, friendly humans that matters.
According to a PwC survey, only 49% of US consumers say companies provide a good customer experience today. So, there is much room for improvement.
Cultivating a customer-centric culture is a critical component of building the brand CX. This calls for targeted efforts to build employee capabilities across the enterprise. Truly customer-centric companies train employees at every level of the organization and in every function, from sales to accounting, to make sure they understand the role they play in maximizing the customer’s experience.
The Pandemic Impact
The pandemic has accelerated the steady growth trend in digital interactions with customers, and many believe that the opportunities and paradigm shifts that have emerged will persevere postcrisis.
The increase in digitization has affected both the B2C and the B2B market. Consumers who grow accustomed to superior B2C digital CX also expect the same kind of user experience in B2B scenarios. The rate of change in digitization was dramatically influenced by the pandemic. McKinsey estimates that the pandemic impact across the globe was to accelerate digitization by an average of seven years.