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How To Win The Customer Experience And Fortify Your Brand

Steve Surdez

Chew on this, business owners and C-suite executives. According to Forbes, “89 percent of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from...36 percent in 2010. While 80 percent of companies believe they deliver ‘super experiences,’ only 8 percent of customers agree.”

If that isn’t a disconnect, we’re not sure what is.

Where does your company fall within the customer experience (CX) spectrum? Is there a disconnect between the CX you think you deliver and how your clients feel? Is your organization falling behind as rapid changes to brand management ascend to prominence? If so, you’re not alone.

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Engineering and consistently delivering an outstanding customer/client experience is critical to your organization’s future. Don’t despair if you struggle or even fail to build a CTX (customer experience management) platform.

Instead of seeing the glass as half empty, choose to see it half full. The disconnect between the 80 percent of companies that feel they deliver “super experiences” and the 8 percent of customers that feel the same is a tremendous opportunity to capture more business.

So, where does a business start when it comes to developing its CTX strategy? Let’s take a look.

What Is The Customer Experience?

The CX is an aggregation of complex interactions a customer has with your brand. These could be physical, psychological, and emotional that make us human beings. Forrester Research did a fine job of boiling down a complex morass of characteristics into a single, digestible definition: The customer experience is “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

Shep Hyken, a contributing writer at Forbes, frames the challenge this way: “The company may define its brand promise, but it's the customer who decides whether or not the company delivered on its promise. There’s a lot riding on delivering a positive customer experience.”

How To Build Your Customer Experience Management Platform

Understand that the customer experience is shaped by everything. Every part of your business impacts the CX. Your organization is a single entity with a web of complex interactions and connects that eventually, either directly or indirectly, influences your customer's experiences. Controlling, shaping, and optimizing your customer experience is an effort that needs to extend across your business, regardless of department. Customer service is certainly critical to strong CTX, but advertising, marketing, packaging, in-store experiences, and social media all play a role in how a customer perceives your brand.

The Harvard Business Review frames CTX this way: “To understand how to achieve satisfaction, a company must deconstruct it into its component experiences. Because a great many customer experiences aren’t the direct consequence of the brand’s messages or the company’s actual offerings, a company’s reexamination of its initiatives and choices will not suffice.

The customers themselves-that is, the full range and unvarnished reality of their prior experiences, and then the expectations, warm or harsh, those have conjured up-must be monitored and probed.”

Understand this, and you’re on your way to building strong customer experience management processes.

Grasp that CRM and CEM are Related but very different. Your CRM captures data and punches out reports that slice and dice for analysis. CRM, or customer relationship management, data is related to the customer experience but remains a different animal.

CRM data is collected after the fact. Customer experience management (CEM) data is collected in real time during an interaction between your company and a customer.

CRM captures known facts about a customer, like their purchase history, returns, and inquiries. CEM feedback is subjective and based entirely on the customer’s perception at a given moment in time. On the surface, CRM and CEM seem like one and the same, but they're very different types of information.

Consolidate & Standardize

Most companies communicate and interact with their audience across a wide range of channels. This provides tremendous reach and multiple touch points and creates potential inconsistencies in the customer experience.

Your brand, which is the aggregate of customer perceptions, must be delivered consistently across all channels to ensure a consistent customer experience.

Experts suggest that customers need to experience their interaction with your brand as “one long conversation.” Whether it’s on the phone, in a chat, via email, or in a store, your brand identity must be projected in a unified way and remain focused on the goal of customer management: Solving customer pain points in an easy, convenient, and efficient manner.

Delivering a consistent, positive customer experience across all possible channels and continuing to solve customer problems is critical to brand management and capturing market share.

This takes a lot of work. You need to consolidate your brand identity, win buy-in from the executive team, and train staff across your organization to ensure the successful long-term execution of your customer experience management strategy.

Execute & Measure

Once you refine your brand and entire team-and that means everyone, not just customer-facing staff members-is on board and trained, execution begins and measurement becomes of paramount importance.

Measuring the customer experience is a challenge because of its subjective nature. Conducting customer surveys at strategic points in the relationship is the best way to measure the success of your customer experience management approach.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the three primary survey inflection points and persistent, periodic, and pulsed.

  • Persistent tracking uncovers past patterns by capturing a recent customer experience. Examples of persistent tracking include customer service or purchase follow-up via phone surveys, in-person surveys, forums, or blogs. The goal is to gather information that can improve the transactional experience, identify emerging issues, and analyze the impact of new initiatives.
  • Periodic tracking gathers present or current patterns and looks toward future opportunities. Periodic tracking digs deeper and focuses on key issues or critical customers. Tracking techniques could include moderated customer forums, focus groups, and longer surveys preceded by phone conversations. Periodic tracking looks back and ahead.
  • Pulsed tracking uncovers and probes future opportunities. Pulsed tracking is highly focused on a single key issue and are a one-off measurement attempt driven by a unique problem that requires further exploration.

Read about these techniques in more detail here.

Regardless of your organization's size or its industry focus, controlling the customer experience through a thoughtful customer experience management approach is essential to capturing market share and growing year after year.

If you weren’t aware that customer experience influence is the new brand battleground where companies perish or live to fight another day, now you know. The task seems daunting and intimidating, but addressing customer experience management could be the most important business decision you ever make.

If you’re ready to reshape your customer experience management approach, we can help you. Illumine8 Marketing & PR helps organizations of all sizes create, maintain, and tweak their branding and customer experience platforms to maximize customer loyalty, increase repeat business, and amplify their brand reach to generate new high-converting leads.

Reach out to us today. We’d love to discuss your vision and how you see your company getting there.

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