What should you do to improve customer experience in 2019?
Whether good or bad, the experience is everything. Today, almost every company realizes the importance of providing a great experience to its customers. Most understand that this is the only factor that will help them to gain an edge over the competition.
The idea is pretty simple: if customers like your brand, they’ll buy from you, else, they won’t.
There are various factors that add on to brand loyalty; customer experience sits right on top. That’s why every company is aspiring to become ‘customer-centric’.
If that’s the case, why are so many customers dissatisfied?
In fact, only 49% of the U.S customers feel that companies are providing a good customer experience. PWC calls this as experience disconnect – companies attempt to build world-class products with new technology or succinct design, but they miss on salient features that actually contribute to a great CX.
What is the recipe for a good experience? Why do some companies succeed while others fail miserably at it?
According to Shep Hyken, a customer experience expert, “Delivering kindness at all levels can make a good company great and a great company even greater.”
Speed, consistency, and friendliness are crucial factors, but the most important one that is often missed, is human touch – drawing a fine connection between technology, customers, and employees so that the smart systems feel more human to customers. Apart from employees being empathetic, it is paramount that various stakeholders such as the retailers, distributors, and the franchises shift from playing dodge to owning customer experience.
The challenge is embracing new technologies to deliver the utmost value to customers while empowering the employees and stakeholders.
Let’s have a look at how companies can get their CX right in 2019 and some simple Do’s and Don’t’s to help you take action in the new year.
Price premium is a real thing
While a lot of companies are battling over cost-leadership, there are customers who are ready to pay more just for a better experience.
According to a report by PWC, customers are ready to pay a price premium of 16% and above on products and services for improved customer experience. While this price bump is applicable in all the industries, luxury and indulgence practices benefit most from top-flight service. These items averaged at 13% price premium for U.S consumers. However, it is interesting to note that U.S customers are likely to pay a price premium of up to 16% for something like coffee.
- Differentiate your services in such a way that it makes sense for the customers to pay for the price premium.
- Stick to your mission statement all the way and look for new ways to maximize value.
- Do something crazy just because the competitor is doing so. Customers pay more for the ‘aha’ moment and that comes from a truly differentiated service/product with a unique value proposition, not just incrementally better competing product / service.
Human-less Tech: the right recipe for collapse
Though customers still make buying decisions on the basis of price and quality, a positive purchasing experience reinforces their confidence to buy the product with better experience, especially in sectors such as healthcare, banking, restaurants, and hotels.
The emergence of new methods like behavioral targeting that allows companies to track online customer behavior helps find the best match between offerings and prospects. Such technologies are redefining customer experience. Customers are using technology every day to get closer to various brands but very few actually realize it. While 48% of U.S customers think congenial, welcoming service as uniquely defining factor for success in the industry, only 32% think technology to be one.
Imagine this. It’s 12 A.M. and you’re using a food delivery app to grab a quick bite. You go through various options and finally choose a dish from a particular restaurant. As you’re trying to complete the transaction, the payment fails and you simply cannot connect to your bank, no matter how much you try.
This is the point where you realize the importance of technology in maintaining a seamless link between you and a product / service. Digital experience is paramount, still, only 10% of the companies considered it as a priority in 2017 and the number has decreased from 25% in 2016.
Delving into more customer insights, people indeed love to make more transactions online, but the moment there is a glitch, they want to talk to a human. At a juncture where companies can neither avoid technology nor be completely human-driven, it’s pertinent that a sweet spot – a perfect combination of both – is found. According to a study by PWC, only 3% of the U.S customers want their experiences to be completely automated. According to a recent study from Accenture Strategy, 77% of surveyed individuals want human interaction when they need guidance.
By allowing machines to take over certain repetitive tasks, your employees will actually find more time to attend to problems that require more immediate attention. For example, billing in a retail store can be taken care of by machines. However, convincing a skeptical customer that a particular suit is a perfect fit requires human attention. In fact, adding on to this, the rise of e-commerce hasn’t taken away the charm of offline shopping. In a recent survey, 44% of the customers said that they prefer to shop daily or weekly, up from 36% in 2014.
- Use technology to make customer journey simpler and train your employees to achieve that goal.
- Alienate human and technology. Always remember, it’s never people or technology. It’s people with technology.
Bad experiences can cost you loyalty and new acquisition
43% of the U.S customers are unwilling to share their data with companies, but 63% wouldn’t hesitate to do so if they truly valued the service. 88% of the people said that trust is an important factor when it comes to sharing information. Businesses are helping customers become evangelists by providing them with resources and opportunities to demonstrate their passion. For example, Doritos held a contest to let customers name its next flavor. The campaign became quite successful and it created a lot of buzz on social media.
When customers have a positive experience, they talk. They share their reviews on social media and talk to their friends and family, which increases brand value. The flip side is, if you make their experience worse, they talk about it as well. Imagine losing out on 17%-20% of your customers in just a day!
Well, it might happen.
Even if they love your brand, 52% of the customers in the U.S will stop purchasing from you after several bad experiences while 17% will walk away after just one. If we look at the global data, 32% of the customers will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience.
- Measure, iterate, and repeat your customer experience process till you find the perfect recipe that serves your business goal.
- Take your customers for granted after you’ve gained their loyalty once.
- Underestimate the power of social media. Your brand is as valuable as the customers who believe in you.
Customer experience starts at home
Empowering your employees is the key to delivering a superior customer experience. Even the best customer services stand a threat of being derailed if the customer-facing employees don’t do their part.
How to empower employees?
Here is a small example – every employee at Ritz Carlton has the freedom to use up to $2000 to turn around a bad guest experience. Little wonder that Ritz Carlton is known as one of the most customer-centric brands of all time!
Presently, there is a good deal of mismatch between what customers want and what employees deliver.
46% of all consumers will stop doing business with a brand if they find the employees not informed enough. Unfortunately, only 38% of the U.S customers feel that the employees to understand their needs.
Empowering your employees is not a one-day job. It’s an imprecise science that varies widely depending on the product, the business, industry, and a host of other factors. Providing authority and autonomy to employees, training them, having a clearly aligned vision statement, and building a seamless bridge between technology and humans are some of the strategies that can be useful.
- Empower your employees so that they can make independent decisions to improve customer experience.
- Criticize or humiliate your employees for taking ownership even if it costs you a few dollars. Your customers will be as confident about your brand as the front-face of your company is.
Millennials are very similar and vastly different
Millennials are very similar to Gen X when it comes to their traits but are vastly different in terms of latent needs.
A survey by Aspect found that nearly three out of four millennials prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own. 55% of the millennials said that their CX expectations have increased over the last 3 years while only 31% would prefer talking to a customer rep to solve their problem.
Hence, brands need to make millennial customers feel empowered with hassle-free online and offline experiences.
For example, this may involves providing a great digital experience like a hassle-free checkout while purchasing movie tickets online as well as a warm welcome from staffs in the movie theatre.
People often misunderstand the role of technology in their purchasing patterns. For example, only 32% of U.S customers think that cloud technology can impact their customer experience. Similarly, most are unaware of the role of AI and Machine Learning and these include employees – 53% are not clear of the future effects of both these technologies.
This must change. Customers show maximum loyalty to brands or retailers that provide them with a frictionless experience. For this, your own employees should have an idea about how technology is going to redefine pretty much everything and how can they help customers to assuage their apprehensions and make the journey smoother.
- Focus on UX/UI when it comes to online business.
- Build a strong customer success team from the very start.
- Stop interacting with a customer post the purchase process or apply the same strategy to connect to all customers.
These are some of the ways to get your customer experience right in 2019. You can read the full report by PWC here. How else can businesses improve upon CX in the coming year? Do let us know!