The re-invigorated importance of the customer experience

Graham Bevington, chief sales officer at Mitel

Customer experience (CX) is a moving target. Just when you’ve figured out what the customer wants, their needs can change. Quickly. Today’s consumer/seller relationship has reached a point where the customer is not only dictating what they want to buy, but also how they want to buy it. Today’s customer wants a seamless, personalized, versatile purchasing journey. As a result, CX has taken center stage in the consumer/seller relationship, and it’s on businesses to deliver, or your competitor will.

Understanding the new customer

Gone are the days of potentially uninformed, dependent buyers. Product information, reviews and ratings are everywhere, as are the avenues for purchasing. The new customer is knowledgeable and approaches buying decisions armed with research they’ve gathered from multiple sources. According to a study from 451 Research, only 25% of respondents said they have a “single source of truth.” 

Consequently, it’s now more important to thoughtfully shepherd every buyer interaction. This means businesses need a sufficient understanding of each call, email exchange, text, and chat. They need to consider how the information they gather during these interactions can further enhance customer experience for the next interaction. Further, any problems discussed can be useful for other customers who may have the same question. 

When each sales team member or customer service representative demonstrates how well they know the customer and what they want, they strengthen customer loyalty regardless of how or when their buying appetite changes.

A digital, yet personal, experience

In this new customer world — where people have many options for where to take their business — first impressions are crucial. For many companies, those first impressions will take place through digital channels. Therefore, it’s important to invest in a digital experience that keeps the customer’s attention throughout their purchasing journey and entices them to return. 

The most effective digital experiences are personalized to the customer, provide a compelling call to action, and makes it simple to act. If the customer wants to complete a purchase solely through digital channels, they should be able to do so. If they need more information about a product or service and want easy access to that information, they should be able to find it. If the customer requests help through a live discussion, it’s important for them to be connected to a customer support expert quickly and ultimately leave the interaction feeling they’ve received an adequate, personal approach to their needs. 

Furthermore, when businesses are discussing the right digital experience for their customers, that discussion should include the right digital experience for their employees. In other words, customer experience (CX) is tied directly to employee experience (EX.) An employee experience, empowered with digital tools that can sufficiently help meet customer needs, will undoubtedly translate to an improved customer experience.

Strengthening customer loyalty in a digital-first landscape

If companies want to convert each interaction from first impression to loyal customer, there are a few tips they can follow:

  • Lead with digital, follow with personal. As previously mentioned, many consumers get their first impressions of a business through digital means. It’s important to pair a good digital first impression with a personal touch. This combination should feature a deep understanding for customer needs and build meaningful relationships on which your customers can depend.
  • Know each place the customer journey can start. A customer can find and interact with a business through multiple channels. Sales teams and customer service departments should be tuned into every way customers learn about — and interact with — their business, and be prepared to provide support at every possible interaction point.
  • Provide excellent customer service. Nothing will turn away a customer faster than a negative customer service experience; one that fails to address their needs or concerns. Prioritize creating a support team culture that is built to effectively meet customer’s needs regardless of the channel through which they communicate.

CX as a priority

The sheer volume of choices available to the customer is greater than it has ever been. When your customer has more options, they’re more likely to go elsewhere if the experience you’re delivering isn’t meeting their needs. However, successful businesses don’t need to fear competition because they effectively leverage a blended digital, personalized approach to maintain customer loyalty and retain their existing customers. In doing so, these successful businesses go a long way towards developing a good reputation built on effective CX that helps attract new customers.