It’s a cycle as old as business itself. A company thrives, but then, almost suddenly, it can’t keep up with the times. It can’t maintain a pace that demands new market strategies as well as new product and service delivery methods. The company withers and then folds. All that’s left to ask, years later, is the age-old question, “What ever happened to that business?”
There’s another post-mortem question that has even more relevance nowadays: “What ever happened to that company that ignored customer experience?” Just as it’s critical to have a knack for innovation, a flexible supply chain and an effective sales team, it’s even more important to deliver high-end customer service. If a company fails to provide responsive, personalized customer experiences, it won’t make much difference if it had a popular product or a clever marketing slogan. Everything begins and ends with customer experience (CX).
All sorts of studies and surveys emphasize the importance of delivering effective customer experiences. One of them, a recent report by the advisory firm PwC, shows how CX does indeed strengthen customer loyalty. For example, 73 percent of surveyed consumers believe CX is a critical factor in their purchasing decisions, while 43 percent of them would pay more for greater convenience. And to highlight the importance of CX over other facets of business, PwC found that 65 percent of consumers believe a positive experience carries more weight than great advertising.
Perhaps more instructive than surveys about effective CX are surveys about ineffective CX. The same PwC report said that one in three customers (32 percent) will walk away from brands they love after just one bad experience. Imagine that! One bad experience trumps a multitude of good experiences and shattered what appeared to be unshakable loyalty.
The cloud service company NewVoiceMedia affixed a dollar figure to poor CX: U.S. businesses collectively lose $75 billion because of bad customer experiences. It’s no wonder companies have made good CX – for that matter, stellar CX – a priority.
Stellar CX doesn’t come easy, and it won’t happen overnight. The good news is that a company doesn’t have to preempt its other priorities to make CX a top priority. Product development, sales and marketing, delivery and just about every facet of business can be integrated into CX. The employees behind these areas might not come into direct contact with customers, but they all work toward pleasing customers. Their insights and efforts will influence how their organization delivers CX. That’s why an organization that secures top-to-bottom buy-in and continuously reinforces the principles of effective CX will, more often than not, solidify customer loyalty.
Prioritizing CX and delivering it effectively requires many things, but in the big picture it calls for one crucial element: knowing what customers want and when they want it. Essentially, CX is like any relationship outside business. Companies have to be attentive and responsive to the customers on the other side of the relationship.
Today, understanding comes from data. Insights gleaned from customer data put companies in the best possible position to serve customers. And not just large segments of customers. For that matter, no company should rest its CX efforts on understanding only big groups of customers. Consumers expect and usually demand personalized attention. They want CX to fit snugly around their individualized needs and desires.
Thankfully, data that’s collected, cleaned and segmented by AI-supported customer data platforms can pinpoint not just which products and services specific groups of customers want – it can also reveal the demographic, financial and psychological factors that influence the thinking of segmented groups. With that kind of nuanced insight, companies will have no problem understanding what customers want.
It helps that consumers don’t mind sharing their data, if it ensures tailored CX. The PwC survey found that 43 percent of U.S. consumers don’t want to share personal data such as location, age, lifestyle, preferences and purchase history. But they will make one exception: 63 percent of those privacy-minded consumers said they are open to sharing their data to a company they “truly valued.”
Companies that don’t ignore CX are those that build value with customers. They make a commitment to understanding and serving customers with CX-driven philosophies and policies, and they invest in the technology that provides the insight that’s needed to properly guide CX efforts.
Iqbal Kaur leads customer success & product management at Zylotech. When she’s not thinking of new AutoML models or conceptualizing product UI, she spends her time hiking in the Nepal Himalayas. An avid fitness enthusiast, she loves to challenge herself with the crazy workouts from the Insanity series.
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