Is the perfect customer experience the key to success in your business?

WORDS Morgan Spencer

You may have heard of the term ‘CX’ which is becoming increasingly prevalent in the world of marketing speak.  Essentially, it’s an ‘acronym’ for Customer Experience, the term is really encompassing of every touch-point that a person has with a brand, company or product. By viewing it as a concept, it gets us as businesses to consider how we impact individuals at every stage of their interactions with us. Whether it’s through word of mouth, media or social media exposure, real time person-to-person transactions or e-communications, it’s vital to think about CX at every juncture and how a person may perceive and react to their experience. 

CX goes beyond the transactional, it’s about how a person feels when they experience your brand.

Over 60% of consumers said that it only takes one negative shopping experience to make them stop engaging with a brand. There’s more choice than there’s ever been for products and services, and more ways of consuming, from online shopping through to the gig economy. So keeping in mind how a customer, or prospective client feels when they come into contact with you is vital, to keep them engaged, and not immediately moving on to a competitor.

So how, in reality, can we maximise CX, prioritising a customer-centric strategy at every stage? Essentially, it’s about adopting a mindset of putting ourselves in the shoes of that potential customer, holding a mirror to how we appear to the outside world. 

Branding is vital. This may be the first time a company comes across you – seeing your visual presence on or offline. Think about the strongest brands out there – Nike, Coca Cola, Airbnb. Their design and outward appearance has been carefully considered and prioritised.  Don’t scrimp on this element, as it’s important to get it right from the start. And ensure this branding, and essence, is replicated across your website, printed materials and any social media platforms you use.

Don’t think of CX as an add on. Keep it front and centre of your business strategy. Training and employee engagement should also be crucial, as your staff will be the ones communicating directly with potential clients. If you’re a small brick and mortar business, this is easier to control; you’ll be able to see how your staff interact and engage with customers. But if you’re bigger, perhaps with an online presence, and need to respond to customers at all times of the day, make sure you still think with a ‘small’, friendly business culture.  Even if you have to use Chatbots to communicate with the volume of interactions, implement a strategy that will resonate with customers, not deter them. 

Give customers the opportunity to give feedback on their experience, and react appropriately. Whilst the ‘gig economy’ with its user rating method having obvious drawback relating to subjectivity, the principle remains – let the users speak, and share their experiences, so you can evolve and enhance your CX. Ensure this feedback strategy is robust and solid and not just a hollow gesture. 

Social media has made it easier than ever for clients to call out bad CX, but it also gives the opportunity to shut down any disgruntled customers immediately, and turn the situation around. A bad example of this is when airline easyjet recently asked a Twitter user to remove a tweeted image of a passenger on a plane without a seat back. This kind of behaviour – transparent to thousands online, was a big CX no-no, exposing the airline to wide negative perceptions of its social media approach, and therefore overall reputation. 

Many of the brands that are doing CX well are those we just can’t get away from. Apple has nailed it.  From its slick, stylish branding, to its friendly, but not overly pushy sales staff, to its user-friendly interface and intuitive technology, the experience is smooth from start to finish. The worst you ever hear about Apple is that once you become a customer, it’s too hard to leave, they’ve got you locked in through its seamless overall experience. Which is in essence, a back-handed compliment!

When considering how to maximise CX, the best way to manage it from the start is to ensure your company is flexible, and agile. If you receive a negative review or feedback, ensure you tackle it head on, and turn it around. Make sure staff have the authority and responsibility to respond appropriately – don’t leave it to one senior member of the team who might not be available. And if a team member thinks of an idea to personalise the customer experience, or go the extra mile in their communications, allow them the freedom to do so. Strict rules and processes will only suffocate the CX journey.

CX is simple. It’s about nurturing customers before they even pick up the phone of click ‘buy now’. It’s about how they perceive you in media, online or by word of mouth. By thinking of everyone out there as a potential customer, and every touch-point as an opportunity, CX will become a natural part of your business strategy.

Alice Armitage