The increasing buzz around customer experience (CX) is good news for both brands and consumers. Finally, businesses across the board, are starting to focus on delivering maximum genuine value to their customers rather than spending astronomical budgets on ads with the hope that people will buy their product. In turn customers reward brands that bring great customer experience to the table with loyalty and bringing their friends.
It is not news that businesses no longer tell the Customers what their brand is. Today customers can share reviews so easily (and many do so) that they are actually the ones defining the brand.
This is why investment in traditional marketing does not have the return it used to and companies are now switching to building great customer experiences instead. There is even speculation that marketing will soon report into CX.
CX has strong ROI
There is a reason behind all the hype — investment into great CX drives three fundamental metrics*:
- Loyalty — Customers are more likely to try additional services or products from brands that provide superior customer experience. One example is American Express, which transformed its approach from treating customer service as a cost center into an opportunity to build customer relationships — and as a result they began to truly understand customer needs. At the same time, Amex made a tremendous effort to enhance processes, shift technologies, alter policy and modify products to drive that experiential shift. These efforts quickly led to a staggering 400% increase in customer retention.
- New Customer Acquisition — Consumers are actively looking at the brand’s reputation before purchasing: 93% say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Furthermore, 82% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase decision, and 60% look at reviews on a weekly basis.
- Average Transaction Value — Customers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a better experience. This statistic shows the power of customer experience — after all, not many other investments or marketing campaigns lead to a 16% price premium.
The major difference compared to traditional marketing is that the ROI in CX can be measured a lot more robustly (CFOs will love this). For example one of our partners, Recipe Box delivery service HelloFresh, has made the connection between their NPS (which they use as a proxy for measuring the health of their CX) and revenue. They know exactly how much uplift in revenue they will get from increasing their NPS score by x points.
This is game changing stuff because coupled with a state-of-the art CX analytics system the decision makers at HelloFresh can quickly drive investment into things that have the maximum positive impact on their NPS and thus the bottom line.
HelloFresh had CX as top priority from the very start while their biggest US competitor Blue Apron took a more laid-back attitude. Today Blue Apron suffers from high churn and high cost to acquire a new customer which is slowly suffocating the business. As an illustrative example — here is the stock prices for both companies:
CX is good for humans too
From speaking to hundreds of companies over the last three years there is a clear pattern — today a lot more companies are conscious of their customer experience than there were in back 2015 (That year we looked at Slack’s growth, read about how they smashed it out of the park here). The very fact that most Customer Experience roles have been created in the last three years goes to show that it is still early days for customer experience.
Today companies can be divided into two camps — transactional or transformational.
Transactional companies treat their customers like numbers and are just there to get the job done, while transformational companies aim to really change their customers’ lives by providing a quality product or service and a great experience to go along with it.
To put it in other words — transformational companies put customer experience at the center of their strategy and ensure the customer ‘wins’.
The extraordinary thing here though is that with transformational companies is not just the company who benefits — the customers are literally having a better quality of life from using the said product or service. As painfully cliche as this sounds — the truth is everybody wins.
In light of the above, there is a glaring question — why doesn’t every company have great CX already? The truth is building a genuinely strong CX is hard. For example only 49% of U.S. consumers say companies provide a good customer experience today.
There are numerous reasons for companies struggling with CX, here are a few of them:
- Where do you even start? Like traditional marketing, CX has a plethora of moving parts. Product, Technology, Customer Support, Operations, etc… all impact CX. Deciding where to focus is no easy feat.
- Getting everyone on the same page — CX cannot be taken care of by one department. Everyone in the company needs to be onboard. For example, customer support may be receiving complaints about a certain bug in the app which they need to share with the tech team. In big companies this is harder than it sounds.
- Amazon… Yes the Amazon Prime Amazon. In a broader sense, this point is about competition but a lot of the time Amazon is THE competition. Very rarely do we talk to a company who do not mention Amazon as a threat. From eCommerce to Grocery to Cloud Services — Amazon is everywhere and they are changing the rules of the game. Their religious focus on CX, technological excellence and sheer scale enables them to change consumers’ expectations for what best-in-class customer experience is. The definition of great CX is a moving target so what is amazing today may be outdated and ‘clunky’ tomorrow.
The obligatory part about Artificial Intelligence
There is good news though. With the emergence of new technology the above problems can be overcome. Artificial Intelligence can harness customer opinions across sources and touch points as well as from the wider industry and provide companies answers to questions like “Which areas of our CX drive people to spend more with us and which drive people to take their money elsewhere” and “what is the next big thing in terms of CX in our industry”.
At Chattermill our vision has always been that the world of great CX is a better world in general and we are fortunate enough to provide CX analytics to some of the worlds’ fastest growing companies helping them to build best-in-class customer experiences.
To sum it up
Marketing will always be important for brands but it will shift towards being seen as just one component of the overall customer experience. It will play a role of creating an inspiring vision for a brand that makes customers enjoy being part of the ‘tribe’ which is a part of that brands’ CX package.
CX in turn will come out as the most important and challenging function in every business. For many it is going to be sink or swim and behemoths like Amazon will raise the bar in CX too high for some to match it. Savvy businesses will use data and customer insights to their advantage and craft unique customer experiences that will differentiate them in the market and gain them a loyal customer following.
Ultimately however — companies investing in better customer experience means that the world will see: higher quality products, websites that work, cheerful customer support, less queues, faster delivery, less ‘sorry we missed you’ delivery notes, better trains, fair transparent ticket pricing, snappier blog posts…
*Sources: pwc.com/future-of-cx, David Clarke, Chattermill research