4 Ways Customer Experience Is Your Competitive Advantage

Customer experience = customer satisfaction

customer_experience_smilesSome of the world’s most successful businesses have risen above their competition by following one simple rule: “The customer is always right.” Now, organizations are reaching for the next level by prioritizing the “customer experience,” which means more than offering the best product or service — it means keeping the customer happy before and well after the purchase has been made. It’s end-to-end interaction, with the brand seeking to satisfy the customer from product discovery to adoption to digital support.

It’s the reality in a world where there are few unexplored markets and competition is always fierce. Price margins in the twenty-first century are extremely slim no matter the industry. In that kind of world, customer experience has emerged as a key differentiator – it’s what sets the survivors apart from their fading competition.

And the results are clear: according to recent studies, 90 percent of Americans say they’re willing to pay more for a product that’s part of a complete and superior customer experience. In another study, about four in five respondents said they’d decided to stop a purchase process because the customer experience had turned sour.

So, why, exactly, does the customer experience matter so much? Let’s take a look.

1 – Bad customer service is expensive

In many industries, products don’t change a whole lot from year to year – particularly if they’re popular with consumers. As long as the products remain popular, business will continue to be brisk. But what if the customer service experience lags? What impact does that have on customer loyalty?

Research has shown that even a single poor customer service experience can scare consumers off a brand – sometimes for good. With virtually every industry crowded with capable products, it’s the customer service experience that sets the great companies apart from the simply good ones. And bending over backwards for a customer can have serious long-term benefits for a company — studies show that most customers will come back if they have a complaint resolved in their favor.

2 – Word of mouth

By embracing the idea of offering a top-notch customer experience, companies ensure that, at the very least, customers will remember their brand the next time they go to make a relevant purchase. Ideally, it could even form a part of their identity — a particularly good customer experience could lead a customer to speak highly of the brand within their social circle, through word of mouth or social media.
The benefits are clear: One study found that four in five Americans regularly seek the advice of their friends, family and coworkers when thinking about buying a product or service.

3 – It saves companies money on customer service

So, why don’t companies embrace the idea of offering the best customer experience? Chances are it isn’t that they don’t want to make their customers happy, it’s just that they don’t know how to measure the return that justifies the investment in the kind of service that wows their customers.

Study after study has shown that taking a slapdash approach to customer service overrides the product experience – in other words, no matter how good your product is, if you fail customers when they reach out for help with it, they’ll go elsewhere the next time they need to make a purchase. Essentially, offering subpar customer service is the business equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.
4 – It builds customer loyalty

Most markets these days offer customers plenty of selection. It’s no longer a choice of one brand or the other – there are often five or more brands that demonstrate the capability of offering at least satisfactory products and services. That’s why winning and keeping the loyalty of customers is so incredibly important.

Of course, companies have known about this idea for decades. They’ve tried other strategies – from offering coupons to special sales – but none have the impact of consistently reliable and enjoyable customer experiences.

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About the Author: Leslie Maxwell