4 steps towards great CX

Four critical steps to optimise your customer experience

Let me get straight to the point: brands that do not yet invest in their customer experience risk getting into trouble in the current era of client centricity and drastic changes in buying behaviour. As many as 82% of customers have already stopped buying from a brand they had a bad experience with. Moreover, customers who are disappointed with the experience offered will tell others: 79% have already warned friends and acquaintances not to do business with a particular brand after they themselves had a bad customer experience with it. In turn, a PwC survey of some 15.000 respondents from 12 countries reveals that 54% of those surveyed think brands urgently need to invest more in improving their customer experience.

Fortunately, brands that consistently commit to a valuable experience are rewarded for doing so. The same PwC survey found that 73% of customers say that experience is an important factor when choosing the brand they buy from. According to brand strategist Brian Solis, it also pays off: after all, 85% of customers are willing to pay up to a quarter more to be sure of a superior customer experience, 40% are willing to switch brands based on a good customer experience reputation. That they also convert this willingness into actions is shown by the fact that customers spend on average 140% more when the customer experience is positive. So it is high time to focus on a superior customer experience, starting with these 4 crucial steps to get things in motion.

1 - Remove unnecessary obstacles

It is striking, even in the year 2021 and in the midst of a corona pandemic, how many organisations are still raising a lot of unnecessary hurdles in their customer journey. After all, the logic should be that your customers encounter as few obstacles and barriers as possible when they decide to contact you or have chosen to spend their money with your brand after considering it. So it would be a shame to litter the road to a relationship with your customers with mountains to climb, which could tempt customers to opt for the competition or even make them hesitate.

says brands should invest more in experience

If you have not already done so, it is high time to map out your customers’ journey and take a critical, non-biased look at what obstacles they encounter. How quickly do visitors find direct contact details on your website, allowing them to reach you instantaneously and via a channel of their choice? How many steps do potential customers have to take before they can find the right information? What hurdles do they have to cross to become a customer of your brand? How agile and quick are your staff in answering questions, both before and after sales?

The principle is simple: the lower the hurdle, the easier the interaction. Conversely, the more difficult you make it for people, the faster they will hesitate and drop out. Say goodbye to processes that do not benefit your customers, scrap unnecessary administration and make sure you are as close as possible, literally and figuratively.

2 - Take the effort out of their hands

Certain interactions between brands and their customers involve certain efforts. And sometimes inevitable frustrations arise that are not always beyond your control. Because your organisation is undoubtedly in constant evolution, the way you operate also evolves regularly, certain processes are made more efficient or profitable and all those involved need to adapt. In a thirst for savings or digitalisation, in recent years we have seen too many brands that mainly made it easy on themselves, instead of easing the effort for their target groups.

It is important to create a mindset where you do not pass on the burden associated with these efforts or changes to your customers. An interaction with your brand should not require unnecessary effort from those you wish to attract, as they will quickly opt for the easy and most convenient option. Too often, brands fall into the trap of letting customers take over their work. Banks want you to take care of your own financial records; they no longer do it for you. Supermarkets encourage self-scanning of your groceries. Webshop suppliers let customers collect parcels themselves or burden them with a lot of packaging material. In none of the previous examples did this result in a benefit or price reduction for customers in question.

Making a customer journey so friction-free also means that you don’t pass on the unpleasant side of customer interactions to them. After all, customers are not paying for a product or service, they are paying for an overall experience. For that reason, they count on you to take the work off their hands. Successful brands make the difference, by excelling precisely in the traditional dips that competitors do not pay attention to.

3 - Communicate openly and transparently

In our personal interactions, we don’t like being lied to, we don’t want relevant information kept from us, and we are all annoyed by being pushed from the proverbial pillar to the post. And yet that is exactly what many brands still perform. Often it is only when reputation damage looms in the press or on social media that an explanation or clarification is provided in the form of a belated mea culpa.

is willing to pay more for a superior customer experience

It is crucial for the trust in your brand that you communicate correctly, and above all, do not take your target groups for idiots in the process. We live in an age where everything you say or do can be quickly fact-checked via the internet, and where every misstep takes on a life of its own. Are your prices increasing? Then explain why and what you are offering in return of added value to the customer. Are problems occurring with your service? Then proactively voice this yourself and notify customers so they don’t have to discover it for themselves and are left dissatisfied. Does something go wrong during the customer journey? Do not hide behind procedures that allow you to blame others (or the customer), but respond with genuine empathy and, if necessary, leave your own processes for what they are for once.

Communicate with your customers as you would like others to communicate with you. Avoid weak excuses or ivory towers and invest in accessibility and genuine empathy with your target group’s life. For your customer experience, it will always pay off (even when faced with problems) to communicate honestly, proactively and, above all, transparently.

4 - Have the courage to deviate from your own processes

There is a certain way of functioning in every organisation, be it organically formed in the history of a family business or laid down in bulky manuals from the headquarters of a multinational. This is just as well, as this is the only way to ensure a consistent experience and monitor the quality of what you sell to your customers every day. Your target audience expects these processes to serve their needs, and to be developed and optimised to evolve with the times.

But there are as many types of (motives for) interactions with your brand as there are customers. The desires or situations from which people choose to engage in that interaction with your brand are rarely exactly the same as they are for other customers. In this day and age, personalisation of products and services are no longer an exception, and the days of classic segmentation are also well behind us. For this reason alone, it is essential that you are willing to let go of your carefully developed processes in specific cases.

There are few things a customer likes to hear less than the sentence, “I understand and would like to help you, but unfortunately I can’t do anything about it”. The expectations of today’s customer, both B2C and B2B, is one of a model in which he or she is at the centre. With that expectation also comes the assumption that you are willing to leave your comfort zone and take exceptional measures if it is in the interest of the relationship with your brand.