Customer experience is a subject of many a debate. With attempts to be singularly defined by numerous experts, this concept has journeyed past customer trends and has been called many things – customer satisfaction, customer relationship management, customer delight, and the like. In a nutshell, customer experience is quite simply the customer’s response to his/her interaction with a product. Forbes says that it is the “cumulative impact of multiple touch points” over the course of a customer’s interaction with an organization. Most organizations focus on maximizing a customer’s experience through these critical touch-points but find it difficult to travel the whole nine yards, despite meticulous planning.
Let’s take for example, a restaurant chain, one of the well-known in its trade. Typical to its industry, the company faced extreme competition and customer churn. Even with enticing offers, discounts and attractive prices, the company lost frequent business to its competitors. With no more qualitative product improvements or monetary alterations to make, the executives began to look towards enhancing customer experience to see if they could gain a competitive edge.
Efforts began to fill in the gaps in customer touch-points. Research revealed that customers were not happy with their overall interactions with the restaurant. Even though customer interactions were standard and a customary order-taking etiquette was followed, customers did not regard the service highly, rendering the interactions negative on the whole. As the executives dug deeper, they realized that most of their losses came from new customers who were unfamiliar with the restaurant’s menu. These customers were bombarded with dense menus and focus was being laid only on selling the menu, leading to a 60% drop in average satisfaction levels. The restaurant paid great attention to its customer acquisition strategies; however, it sidelined the customers’ journey once they were accomplished.
The problem this restaurant encountered is far more common than most companies care to admit. While businesses aim at creating larger customer bases, routine and minor interactions are overlooked in order to fulfill a greater “business need”. It is time for them to rise above mere product related interactions and place each interaction in a larger context, thereby keeping customers happy in their ‘journey’ with the company. Be it a complex technical issue, a simple order-taking call or an innocent enquiry, a customer’s interaction ought to be tagged as successful only if it can be described as “wholly delightful”.
The customer has become omnipresent – (s)he is everywhere and is judging everything. They have an uncanny ability to spot corporate hokum with the simplest and most seemingly uninteresting interaction. Even a “meh” moment can be increasingly dangerous, especially in light of this growing empowerment. This is why, knowing simply about customers’ buying habits, attitude or choices may not be enough. What is important is to comprehensively understand their interactions with the company and its products; subjectively assess their experiences and help them attain that enviable sense of satisfaction.