Customer Experience Explained for Starting Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners
Are the highest quality product, the best value for the buck, and the best customer service not the keys to success? Not if you follow the latest trend: customer experience (CE). What is it? How can you create a powerful customer experience? How do you measure it? Is a good customer experience easier or more difficult for starting entrepreneurs and small business owners? This blog post will help you with these questions.
What is customer experience?
In a Harvard Business Review article, Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan, and Conor Jones define it as your customer’s end-to-end journey with you, not just the key touchpoints or critical moments when customers interact with your organization. Customer experience is the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over time, which results in a real relationship feeling, or lack of it.
BeyondPhilosophy.com emphasizes the human emotions part of it by saying that “customer experience is an interaction between an organization and a customer as perceived through a customer’s conscious and subconscious mind. It is a blend of an organization’s rational performance, the senses stimulated and the emotions evoked. Moreover, it is intuitively measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact.”
Important when it comes to CE
They list four things that are important when it comes to CE:
- Customer experience is not just about a rational experience.
- More than 50 percent of customer experience is subconscious, or how a customer feels.
- Customer experience is not just about the ‘what,’ but also about the ‘how.’
- Customer experience is about how a customer consciously and subconsciously sees his or her experience.
Finally, Gartner defines customer experience management (CEM) as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.” This strategy requires process change and many technologies to accomplish. They summarize it in the picture below.
Why should CE have your attention?
- The Customer Experience Board surveyed 97,000 customers and found that meeting and even exceeding customer expectations is not even enough. What impacts customer loyalty numbers is minimal customer effort.
- A recent McKinsey customer experience survey of 27,000 US consumers across 44 industries found that companies that focus on providing a superior and low effort experience across their customer journeys – such as customer onboarding, account changes, and problem resolution – realized positive business results, including a 10-15 percent increase in revenue growth and a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction.
- A Customers 2020 report predicts that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
How can you create a powerful customer experience?
In a Forbes article, Blake Morgan says you only have to ask yourself how easy you can make life easier for your customers if you want a more powerful customer experience. She says: “The less effort it takes for consumers to accomplish their goal when they contact you, the more loyal they become. The reality is all the tools are there for the executive team’s use. The customer-focused attitude is free. While the integration of your many tools might cost you some investment and time, creating seamless customer service pathways for the customer is absolutely critical. You cannot afford to wait another day.”
In another Forbes article, Christine Crandell states the importance of happy employees in this process. She says that a company’s ability to deliver customer-defined value is closely tied to its company culture. It comes down to who is responsible for turning customer understanding into action. It is not technology, management or strategy; customer-defined value comes from your employees. We all know the saying “happy employees lead to happy customers.”
If employees feel they are valued, enabled and set up for success, they will routinely go the extra mile to help customers realize value, achieve their desired outcome and have the experience they want. Employee enablement is a key success factor in customer-alignment, yet that depends wholly on the organization’s culture.
How can you measure the customer experience?
Once you know how to improve your customers’ experience, you also need to know how to benchmark their CE. According to Martin Zwilling, one new metric now commonly used for it is called the Net Promoter® Score (NPS).
He says that this score works by asking your customers for feedback, and dividing them into three categories:
- Promoters: loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from you and urge their friends to do the same.
- Passive: satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition.
- Detractors: unhappy customers who feel trapped in a bad relationship.
The formula for the Net Promoter® Score is the percentage of customers who are detractors, subtracted from the percentage who are promoters (NPS=P-D). Legendary companies like Amazon operate with an NPS between 50 to 80 percent, but the average venture sputters along at an NPS of only 5 percent to 10 percent, or even negative.
Is focusing on customer experience easier or more difficult for starting entrepreneurs and small business owners?
Starting entrepreneurs and small business owners might believe that this subject is too difficult for them. After all, they do not have the resources those big companies do. However, as Blake Morgan says, the customer-focused attitude is free.
Moreover, starting entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have huge teams of employees. As a result, customers feel less distance between them and the company. If they only have contact with only one or a few people, they feel a stronger relationship between them and the company than when they always see or hear another name.
What can I do for you in the customer experience process?
Well, I am the owner of Dutch translation agency BudgetVertalingOnline, which offers affordable translations English <> Dutch. Websites are often the first point of contact for your (potential) customers. If your website is in a language they do not understand, it raises an unnecessary barrier. Hence, I can help you if you want to expand your reach and improve your customer experience. Want to get in touch? Send me an email (email@example.com), send me a Tweet (@GdenHolder) or fill out the quotation form.
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