Many companies make the mistake of focusing on price or value instead of the way the customer experiences and perceives the brand. Research shows that the customer experience is just as important, if not more so, than both price and value. Businesses that ignore the full experience risk losing customers and undermining the strength of the brand.
The customer experience is the total of each interaction and experience with a brand. It encompasses everything from the initial social media exposure to post-sale communication. The strongest brands pay close attention to every touch point, crafting each one to create a powerful and compelling experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
Price and value are important to customers, but even the lowest prices cannot overcome a poor experience. When a customer struggles to make online orders, speaks with rude customer service agents and faces a social media platform inundated by marketing messages, price ceases to matter. A negative overall experience weakens the perception of your brand and decreases the chance for repeat business. In fact, a 2013 Forrester study found that the customer experience is the most important factor in brand loyalty.
Managing customer experience requires a multilevel approach. On one level, you must pay attention to the success of each interaction, perfecting each experience so that customers come away satisfied. Whether a customer is tweeting you about a problem or walking by your store window, each experience should reflect your overall brand message. Tackling this process is no small feat; it requires attention to detail and a broad understanding of how customers find and engage your brand. From training agents to handle angry customers to building a user-friendly website, the small efforts have a cumulative effect over time.
The second level — one which many companies ignore — is the big-picture experience. It is entirely possible for customers to be happy with individual interactions and unhappy with the brand experience as a whole. The strongest brands pay attention to the larger problems and causes that tie together the smaller interactions. If customers make small service calls to help resolve technological problems, you should examine the literature and technology to find and fix the issues that prompt those service calls. Only by paying attention to the small- and large-scale touch points can you achieve a truly positive customer experience. When both levels of experience produce a high satisfaction rate, your brand is well-positioned to build positive relationships and create customer loyalty.
Creating a positive customer experience takes time, but the end result is indisputably worth the effort. By investing the resources to improve interactions and systems at each level of the business, you can create a positive experience that translates to increased loyalty.
Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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