One of the top priorities for companies across sectors and industries today is learning how to improve customer experience. In fact, 81% of companies expect to compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX.
- 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience
- 73% of buyers point to customer experience as an important factor in purchasing decisions
- 65% of buyers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising
And yet, while 80 percent of CEOs believe that they deliver a superior experience to customers, only 8 percent of their customers agree. Figuring out where to start the journey and how to map it can become a dizzying task.
What makes a great customer experience?
Getting to know the many facets of creating great customer experiences is a good start. Understanding how they fit together and integrate into your organization is where the challenges begin.
And realizing that delivering a great customer experience requires a fluid, adaptable, and iterative process of research, design, planning, implementation, measurement, data analytics, and optimization all in a recursive evolving system – this is when vertigo sets in.
So, it’s no surprise that companies are looking for strategies, examples, innovative ideas, and templates to improve customer experience. By 2020, customer experience is expected to eclipse both price and product as the key brand differentiator.
How to improve customer experience: Human interaction matters most
Soft skills are increasingly desirable in the workplace. Being technically brilliant and miserable (or impossible) to work with brings more overall costs than benefits for most organizations. This logic also applies to customer experience.
Competing in a technologically-driven global market requires powerful tools like AI, machine learning, and the best digital solutions for your customer experience strategy. But these solutions must also be seamlessly integrated into organizational functions to also leverage the best of your sales, marketing, and service teams.
As long as your customers are human, customer experience with the human beings in your company remains vital to delivering great CX. In fact, 82% of U.S. and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want more human interaction in the future.
Making CX faster, easier, more convenient, more personalized, and seamless across channels rank among the most important differentiators when talking about how to improve customer experience.
However, even if every digital interaction the customer has with your company is flawless and satisfying, one bad human interaction with your employees can quickly erode that good will.
The human factor is as important – if not more important – than great technology when it comes to the success of your customer experience strategy.
Maintaining a positive balance in the customer love bank remains necessary. And the deposits carrying the most value are made via the human element contributed by employees with each customer experience interaction.
An example of delivering great CX: Just what the doctor ordered
After a series of frustrating experiences with my previous pharmacy and more than once getting the sense that the pharmacists were annoyed I was there at all – I switched pharmacies.
I suspect I’m not the only customer who’ll put up with mediocre at best experiences for a long time to avoid the hassle and frustration of finally going to a competitor. But even patient customers will tire of poor customer experiences and do business elsewhere.
After searching on my phone and finding that I could get a much better price on a generic with their competitor, I decided to try it. I only had to have the prescription called in by the doctor’s office.
When I went to pick up the prescription, the pharmacist told me the price that was listed on the website. I paid. I left the store. Done.
It almost seemed too easy. I expected hassle or frustration, or to find that the price on the website was the old bait-and-switch – that the low price, if I’d read the fine print, was only available under very specific and narrowly defined circumstances. Nope. It was just that easy.
A few months later, I went to get my wife’s prescription that’d been called in one morning. I figured it might not be ready, but had to go in anyway because I’d encountered a problem with the medication I’d gotten. The pharmacist replaced the pills without question. No hassle. No interrogation.
Since they were busy and hadn’t had a chance to fill my wife’s prescription, I planned to pick it up later. As I was about to leave, another pharmacist said they were filling it if I could wait a couple minutes.
This experience won me over. Despite my aversion about going into the store, the pharmacists – the human beings with whom I interacted – created a customer experience that made my day better.
Technology with the heart of humanity offers the best customer experience
Leveraging and utilizing the technological power of AI, machine learning, data analytics, and the multitude of digital tools, channels, and touchpoints are all essential to creating and delivering exceptional CX in today’s competitive global markets.
However, the competitive advantage will go to those who build their customer experience around the human factor – developing and investing in a strategy that optimizes the analytic intelligence of machines and the emotional intelligence of human beings, finding resonant frequencies in their complementary strengths.