Monday, November 18, 2019
Insights

CX 101: What Is Customer Experience, Anyway?

Erin Ollila
January 17, 2019

3 minute read

While businesses across industries and verticals are making efforts to improve their overall customer experience (CX), the term “customer experience” is often misinterpreted or vaguely understood. The SmarterCX team hit the streets to find out just how many people are or are not familiar with the term “CX” — so if you think you’re the only one who’s not 100% sure, this may put your mind at ease.

So what is customer experience?

Unlike customer service, its similar-sounding counterpart, customer experience doesn’t focus on one particular touchpoint. It moves beyond just one transaction from start to finish, and instead is the overall perception consumers develop after an encounter — of any kind — with your brand.

CX is a connected, holistic approach to engaging consumers and meeting — or better yet, exceeding — the conscious or unconscious expectations they develop about your brand. And, because true CX is cyclical, it also means continuing to deliver on and improve on those expectations over time.

Why customer experience is invaluable

The value of a comprehensive, genuine customer experience cannot be overstated. When you immerse customers into your brand, you not only reinforce the value your work can bring into their lives, but also tell the kinds of visual and linguistic stories that inspire an emotional connection.

In an article for Forbes, Shep Hyken summarizes what he learned from a interview between Catherine Blackmore, Group VP at Oracle, and Carolyne Crawford of Fanatics at Oracle’s Modern Customer Conference. Their conversation discussed fan loyalty and the emotional bond fans form with their favorite teams. Hyken says,”The merged identity fans have with their favorite sports teams is about unshakable loyalty. So, the next time you think of customer loyalty, think about the level of loyalty that the Chicago Cubs, or any other sports franchise, create with their fans. Can your organization do the same?”

Customer experience definition

The difference between bad CX and intelligent CX

“Customer experience is the sum of all interactions with customers across every touchpoint. That last part is important: Every touchpoint,” says Ian Lurie, Founder and CEO of Portent—a Clearlink Digital Agency. He continues, “The customer experience falls apart when brands hand their customers between traditional business units like marketing, sales and customer care. Customers become frustrated because they are often treated like a “new” person with each hand off. Their experience isn’t tailored to their previous requests and behavior. That’s bad CX. Intelligent CX treats the customer as a single person from one interaction to the next. It connects systems, data, and teams to create a seamless customer experience across every brand touchpoint. It eliminates silos between business units to reduce friction, build customer engagement, and strengthen brand loyalty.”

To implement CX, think like a human

In the 2018 SmarterCX Insights Report, Don Peppers, best-selling author and global CX authority says,”…customers are human. You need a group who is good at empathizing with the customer.” He continues, “A hamburger chain didn’t figure out how to delight the customer by leaving a few fries in the bottom of the bag through data mining. Same with hotels providing warm cookies in the reception area for a guest after a long trip.”

To provide CX that builds brand-loyal consumers, take an empathetic, humanistic approach. Consider how consumers are feeling as they interact with your brand. Take note on the ways to improve their encounters. Implement tools to make each experience one of ease. Listen to them when you get feedback from traditional customer service transactions. Showing up ready to delight, and provide an ease of use, is as simple as placing yourself in the shoes of your customer.

We now know the answer to the question, “What is customer experience?” but still unsure where to start improving CX in your brand? Consider an omnichannel approach. Be present on all channels your consumers utilize in whichever way they prefer to communicate, such as voice, chat, email or text. By showing up prepared to communicate, you’re setting a connected foundation that teaches your customers you’re always available for them.

To learn more about the fundamentals of CX, visit smartercx.com/cx101.

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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