Over the last four months, we have been discussing customer experience. It is extensively studied yet commonly misunderstood. In demystifying customer experience, three key issues stand out so far.
First, most businesses fail to recognise that customers are human beings; second, many leave customer experience to chance; and finally, there is a need to fix customer experience to survive.
Customers are People First: We are in the business of people. Whether we are offering a product or a service, people are at the centre.
Customers make purchase decisions for their businesses and for themselves. Before, during, and after the purchase, they interact with the businesses and form different perceptions.
Customers have functional, social, and emotional needs. Customers have expectations too; they expect that their needs will be met. When their needs are not met, customers have the right to decide whether to stay or move on. This decision is often not rational, it is simply based on how the customer feels.
Smart businesses must make customers feel acknowledged and respected as human beings.
Customer Experience must be Intentional: Unfortunately, most businesses continue to leave customer experiences to chance. Many expect it to just happen.
Great customer experiences do not just happen, they happen by design. A business planning to hold on to its customers must take charge of its end-to-end customer experience.
Businesses need to take time to design the intended customer experience and then deliver the experience as envisioned.
Every customer interaction is a golden opportunity to make the customer experience the business, its people, products, and services at their best.
Customer Experience Is Vital for Business Success: Many businesses are struggling and dying. Many reasons lead to the challenges that businesses face and to their eventual failure.
To survive, a business must attract and retain customers. A lack of customers kills businesses. Great customer experiences drive business success. Experience is at the centre of customer retention, referrals, and a good reputation.
Referrals and repeat purchases in turn lead to business growth and profitability. Customer experience is not just good to have, it is a must-have for businesses hoping to survive.
As must-have, smart businesses must prioritise improvements in customer experience.
Further, businesses must generate customer insights that propel these improvements and drive performance by listening more to their customers.
Customer experience is a winning strategy and it is vital for business success. Every smart company must embrace customer experience as a priority area.
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a management consultant and trainer. @KiruthuLucy