Why prioritising customer experience is the key to success

Make a cup of tea, sit down for a moment – I know how busy you are – and stop to think. Now write down, in as few words as possible, the number one thing that gives your business an advantage over its competitors. Not several things, but the one thing – the big differentiator that marks you out from the rest.

Done? What have you written? Price, perhaps? Quality and reliability of your products or services, maybe? Or possibly the speed at which you can deliver them? Or could it be your decades of unrivalled experience that no start-up could hope to replicate?

Well, important as all those are, if that’s what you’re really focusing on to move your business ahead of the competition, it’s almost certain that right now, you’re looking the wrong way.

An increasing number of smart business thinkers have spotted the growing trend that what matters most to your customers, and potential customers, is not necessarily what you sell them, or how much they pay for it, but the experience you give them.

Customer Experience Counts

One such thinker is Tiffani Bova, who has the magnificent job title of Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at business software company Salesforce. And she couldn’t put it more clearly: “Customers will remember the experience they have with a brand – or person – much longer than the price they paid,” she stated at a recent Salesforce event in London.

And her thinking, like all good thinking, is backed up by the data. Salesforce’s own research shows that 67% of customers will pay more for a great experience. Got that? Two-thirds of paying customers will actually hand over more money if you treat them in a memorable way that makes them feel valued. (This is the kind of thing that the best traditional airlines are finally cottoning on to in their battle against the low-costs, for example.)

The same research also shows that 64% of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences. So, make it easy for them, and they’ll reward you with stronger sales. (Apple, anyone?) Small wonder then that Salesforce found that companies that excel at customer experiences tend to grow revenue 4-8% above the market average.  And that even goes for the business-to-business brands, where you might have thought price trumped everything. Some 82% of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves, says the research. (So guess what? They’re human beings, after all.)

It’s by no means surprising, then, that 68% of C-suite executives in large organisations expect organisations to emphasise customer experience over products in the future.

So what does this mean for smaller businesses, and where should you start?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the drivers behind all of the above. Living, as we do, in a hyper-connected world, customer expectations are constantly being driven upwards by the rapid transmission of online reviews, social media feedback, and so on. Consequently, you have to make sure that your customers’ best interests really and truly lie at the heart of every decision you make, every process that happens in your business and every external interaction you have. If they do not, you will be found out – no matter how large or small your business is – and you are likely to suffer.

So here are three key areas to be focusing on:

  1. Treat your customers like humans. Give them personalised experiences, based on what you know about them (and make sure that knowledge is accessible to all relevant people in your business and doesn’t just lie in someone’s head).
  2. Respond to your customers immediately, with outstanding service that goes beyond their expectations. They expect nothing less.
  3. Treat them consistently. When they speak to customer services, they should get the same great experience as they had when they were dealing with your sales team. That means breaking down the silos within your business and efficiently sharing customer data across departments, as well as training your employees to be able to deliver on this.

Not sure how to get there? Having the right roadmap – that will lead to you creating the right processes, instilling the right attitudes to customer service among your employees and backing this up with effective technology that will enable them to serve your customers better than ever – is crucial.

We at Cognition24 have decades of expertise that can help you do this. Just drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to find out more about your customer experience challenges and how we can work with you to solve them.

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