The Internet and globalisation has created an entirely new business environment that has empowered consumers like never before. Consumers now have more choices and businesses have more competition. The importance of building customer experience has increased exponentially over the past decade, and will continue to do so in the future.
It is becoming difficult to compete on price, and traditional advertising is becoming less effective as social media gives customers the ability to review products and services in front of a worldwide audience. This is why customer experience is becoming increasingly important.
It’s about people
Ironically, customer service has become more personal as business has gone global. The reason is that customer experience is one of the few places where businesses can compete with relative ease and customer service is a major part of customer experience, but it’s not the only part. Companies are now working hard at creating the best experience possible. From clean and efficient showrooms to heavily user tested websites and free shipping, the customer’s experience is paramount.
It’s about lifetime value
The modern business environment has a new criteria for success. Where once it was enough to offer a product or service at a reasonable price, do a bit of advertising and get a flow of customers, it is now more about customer retention.
Creating a quality customer experience makes it possible to retain the same customer for years and ideally for a lifetime. The customer is no longer valued for one purchase, but rather for a potential lifetime relationship.
Building a lifetime relationship requires relating to customers as human beings, not statistics. There is a problem today in that businesses need customer metrics in order to understand their customer base, however, the very use of these metrics can cause businesses to relate to customers as statistics or as something to be psychologically manipulated for the company’s benefit. This can cause companies, especially large ones, to lose sight of customers as human beings. The company starts relating to the psychological model of the customer built up by the public relations department, rather than to the actual human being.
We forget that people are generally smarter than we think they are. They will eventually figure out that they’re being manipulated and will take their business somewhere else.
By all means, gather the metrics using strategic customer surveys, but remember to put positive people oriented employees in customer facing positions and give them the power to actually resolve the customer’s problems.
It’s about being unique
It is becoming less and less viable to copy other business models when it comes to creating customer experience. The sheer level of competition means that your company must stand out from the crowd. So, work to build a brand that has sustainability as itself, rather than copying others. The more unique your brand is, the more likely it will survive.
Follow the principles
While it isn’t a good idea to treat all customers alike, it is still important to keep an eye on the latest psychological research regarding customer relations, and then test elements of that research with your base and keep what works.
So, be proactive. Don’t treat customer service as just another business element or a system for handling complaints. Remember that customer service and customer relations have merged and evolved into something very different, the creation of a unique customer experience. Quality customer experience will give you the edge you need in a competitive world.