There are many definitions of customer experience, but I have settled on this one:
Customer Experience is how customers feel about every single interaction with a brand.
What can we glean from this definition? How customers feel is an important piece of the puzzle, because not everyone feels the same way about the same thing. As the old saying goes, “perception is reality,” so it’s critical that brands truly understand how their customers are interacting with them and what it’s actually like to be a customer.
If your customers feel that your mobile app is difficult to navigate, then it’s difficult to navigate, regardless of whether your designers or IT department say it’s simple. So understanding how your products or services make customers feel will go a long way toward ensuring that your customers end up happy.
Too often brands build experiences that serve their own purposes but neglect to consider how a customer will feel in the middle of it. To alleviate this blind spot, brands should involve their customers in the creation of experiences – both online and offline – to ensure the customer’s point of view is understood.
The other important part of this definition is that customer experience includes every single interaction that a customer has with a brand. Because so many companies operate in silos, this is something that many brands miss.
Here is a fictional example that could be familiar to any business:
The person who “owns” digital display advertising at a company has Agency A design an ad placement aimed at driving people to purchase a product with a special offer. But when the user clicks on the ad, they get to a landing page – designed by Agency B via the team that “owns” the product’s web experience – which contains a different offer from the ad, or which uses colors and fonts that don’t look like the same company. Confused, the user decides to open up the brand’s mobile app – designed by Agency C via the team that “owns” the mobile app experience – and they don’t see any reference to the advertising offer at all (but they do see new colors and fonts). Now frustrated, the user calls Customer Service with some choice words for the agent on the other end, who has no idea what advertisement the person is talking about.
What is the result of this example? The person probably ends up buying from someone else, so the company has spent money and human capital on an advertisement, a telephone call, and two digital experiences that lead to the wrong result.
One more part of the customer experience that we cannot forget about is Customer Service. Many people confuse Customer Service and customer experience. Customer Service is a single interaction, so therefore it is a subset of customer experience, which is a series of interactions.
Scott Wise, owner of more than a dozen Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurants in the Midwest, said on a Focus on Customer Service podcast episode that he is “in the business of Customer Service.” What? A guy who owns more than a dozen restaurants isn’t in the restaurant business, but rather he’s in the Customer Service business? Absolutely, said Wise, adding that if a restaurant has delicious food but terrible service, it fails because it has no customers. But if a restaurant has great food – or even just good food – and outstanding, memorable service, its customers will remain loyal for years to come.
Similarly, when I asked best-selling author and Customer Service expert Shep Hyken if he thinks that all companies are in the Customer Service business today, he replied: “Not just all companies. Everybody who works in the company is in service.”
Hyken cited a New Voice Media study which found that U.S. companies are losing $62 billion – with a “b” – every year due to poor Customer Service.
“Now that would indicate to most people that Customer Service is getting worse,” he said. “I don’t think it is getting worse. I think Customer Service is getting better. What’s happened is that customers’ expectations are higher than they’ve ever been. That is outpacing the strides that some of these companies are making.”
The bottom line is this: Everything is about the customer. Without customers, there is no business. You must view everything you do through your customers’ eyes and make every effort to ensure that each customer’s experience is simple, positive, and memorable. And this philosophy should be instilled into every employee, especially those on the “front line” who interact with your customers every day.
This post is an excerpt from my book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, which is available on Amazon.