Every business knows that consumers are price sensitive. But in a world where prices are already so low that margins are practically nonexistent, it’s more common to see companies that compete on price go out of business than capture market share. In such a cut-throat environment, differentiation can seem tough. I assure you, however; it’s not impossible.
Research into consumer attitudes consistently shows that customers differentiate products based on their customer support experiences. In fact, a reputation for providing these kinds of positive experiences is so powerful that 45% of consumers will pay a higher price for the product.
So how do you cash in?
Take A Holistic Approach
There’s no golden ticket for creating a support experience that customers will pay for. Research by Oracle, however, provides insight about the strategies that businesses should adopt. Unsurprisingly, they all focus on two main themes: convenience and personalization.
For example, 35% of respondents stated that convenient access to information for research and questions during the buying cycle caused them to spend more money with a business. At the same time, 20% of respondents cited personalized shopping experiences as a factor in the amount of money they spent.
Notably, the same study showed nearly 82% of respondents felt their customer support experiences required “too much effort”.
These numbers illustrate the need for companies to take a holistic approach, looking at every aspect of the customer journey to make it both simple and enjoyable.
Map Out Customer Experiences
So how can businesses do better? By being conscientious of the way every interaction along the customer journey impacts their experience. Sometimes called “Service Design”, this strategic process works “experience” into planning from the very start.
For example, discovering which experiences customers value the most should be just as large a part of consumer research as which product features they prefer. Conceptualizing the experience as another aspect of the product right from the start allows for consistency throughout operations.
This places customer experience at the front of decisions, where it is normally overlooked.
One example is your website design - often thought of purely in terms of marketing and sales. Employing Service Design strategies, it suddenly takes on new priorities and dimensions. Is it easy to find the FAQ section? Is it comprehensive enough to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions? Where can a customer go if the site doesn’t answer their specific question?
That’s just one example, but the approach is consistent across all aspects of a company’s operations.
Keeping customer experience concerns - concerns that are too often tucked away in the “customer support” department- at the forefront of strategic planning ensures they are adequately addressed every time consumers interact with your brand.
Get Empirical About Evaluations
But even companies that genuinely try to provide excellent customer experience at all levels sometimes struggle. In fact, the problem is so acute that research from Forrester showed that while 73% of companies emphasize experience, only 1% actually succeed. Why?
Because they are too focused on touchpoints when doing their evaluations. This is problematic because it is not realistic; customers don’t experience a company in individual, isolated interactions but rather throughout a cohesive journey.
So what are the best metrics to use? I’m glad you asked. While there are several techniques, perhaps the most prominent is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). You probably already know it; this simple metric asks customers if they would recommend a company to friends and family. Another good metric is the Customer Effort Score (CES), which measures how difficult it is for a customer to get what they want from a company.
If a company is not scoring well on these metrics, it’s a sign something is not working. It’s time to reevaluate policies and procedures.
It’s All About Customer Loyalty
Customer experience really boils down to a single word: loyalty. But maybe not in the way you think. The question is really: how loyal are you to your customers?
Is your company giving your customers a reason to come back? If creating an holistically positive environment from start to finish is part of your conception, execution and ongoing measurement to track results, the answer will almost certainly be yes.
One thing’s for certain: companies that successfully differentiate themselves from the competition by continuously growing their investment in their customers’ experiences can expect to see their profits grow as well.