The experience a customer goes through, from first interacting with your business to using your product or service, can be just as important as the quality of what you deliver. This is true whether they are making an individual purchase or buying on behalf of an organization. In fact, one study showed that the customer experience is expected to be more important than price or product as soon as the year 2020. Preparing your organization and the people in it to meet these heightened expectations will require a customer experience strategy. Here's what we mean.
Customer Experience Is Affected by the Entire Organization
Although the outlook is changing, it’s a common misconception that the customer service department shoulders the whole responsibility for the customer experience. A customer interacts with your company long before they reach a customer service team, if they even get that far, through activities such as:
- Exploring website content
- Reading marketing emails
- Talking to a sales professional
- Placing an order
- Using the product or service
- Receiving an invoice
- Making a payment
These are just a few examples of moments when a customer interacts with your business, and each of these moments contributes to the customer’s overall experience. When done well, the experience will flow seamlessly. However, each interaction is also an opportunity for the customer to feel confused, frustrated, or neglected.
When every person in an organization understands that they actually do make an impact on the customer experience, the results show in the numbers. This applies not only to customer-facing employees, but to everyone. For example, the finance department’s processes may impact how long it takes for a client's payment to go through, and people in the manufacturing department can influence the quality of a company’s product. Fortunately, with a training and development strategy that focuses on always considering the customer experience, people in every role in the organization can have the conviction that their actions matter.
How a Customer Experience Strategy Contributes to Growth
Although quality and price will always be important factors when making purchasing decisions, the significance of the customer experience should not be underestimated. One report showed that:
- A moderate improvement in customer experience can impact the revenue of a $1 billion company by $775 million over three years.
- The customer experience highly correlates to repurchasing decisions.
- The difference between a very good experience and a poor experience is 21 points in Net Promoter Score.
Focusing on the customer experience can contribute to a stronger bottom line, a better reputation, and a more loyal customer base. Below are steps your company can take to ensure you have a customer experience strategy in place.
Commit to Providing a Superior Customer Experience
This type of organization-wide commitment—remember, this is not just about the customer service department—starts at the top and requires buy-in from leadership. Leaders must model and coach the behaviors that contribute to prioritizing the customer experience and provide the necessary training and resources to support the strategy.
Map the Customer Journey
Outline every step a customer goes through, from finding your company to making a purchase to getting support. Identify who in the organization participates or contributes to each of those moments, even behind the scenes. Determine what can be done to make each moment exceptional and the entire journey seamless.
Provide Ongoing Training
It may not come naturally for an individual in the finance department or the IT department to think about how their role affects the customer. Provide training that demonstrates how their decisions and behaviors have an impact on the customer experience. Teach them the tools that will allow them to always consider the customer first. It’s important to recognize that this should not be a one-time training event but a comprehensive development program that addresses every role in the organization.
Make Changes That Will Improve the Customer Experience
Change in an organization can be difficult, but it is often necessary to improve the customer experience. Make improvements to the website, update your billing processes, upgrade your phone system—do whatever it takes to make every step of the process as good as it can be.
Measure and Report
Evaluate your progress as changes are being made so you can focus on what works best. Determine which metrics are the most meaningful and concentrate your efforts on improving them. These might include conversion rates, returns, referrals, reviews, or your Net Promoter Score. Regularly gather and analyze data to determine what is working and what needs to change. Reward employees and teams for making a positive impact on the customer experience to reinforce that it is an organizational priority.
A Commitment to the Customer Experience Starts with Training
When these pieces fall into place, the results are a better customer experience, more repeat clients, more referrals, and, ultimately, more revenue. It’s clear that providing a great customer experience is becoming not just a competitive edge but also an expectation. Companies that do not focus on creating an exceptional experience risk being left behind. Creating an incomparable customer experience takes sustained effort and commitment from the entire organization, especially leadership.
A training approach that uses experiential learning can help everybody understand how their actions impact the customer experience by demonstrating consequences in a safe environment. Once they have the conviction that their actions matter, individuals will be more inclined to change their behaviors and apply the concepts they learned in training to the real world.
To learn more about why you should invest in taking your organization to the next level, read The Rise of the Customer Experience in B2B.