This week's blog comes courtesy of Mary Clare Novak, a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 in Chicago. G2 is the world's leading B2B software and services review platform, so they know a thing or two about quality customer experiences!
It’s easy to remember a negative experience you had with a brand.
Whether you were treated poorly by a customer service rep, or the product wasn’t what you expected, these unpleasant interactions can affect the way we engage—or don’t engage—with that particular business in the future.
As consumers become increasingly picky and are constantly looking to be wowed, the experience your business offers as they engage with your brand is everything. For businesses, this can cause somewhat of a headache.
How can you create this positive image of your brand that makes it impossible to resist via customer interactions? The answers lie in your customer experience and customer journey.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience refers to the impression you leave on people who engage with your business, resulting in them feeling a certain way about your brand.
Every touchpoint you have with your customers can affect their experience, but the two primary things that will impact it are the product they purchase from you and the business representative they interact with (sales reps, customer service reps, etc.).
If your reps are rushing prospects to make a decision just so they can make a sale, or if your product doesn’t deliver the promised benefits, that’ll result in your customers having a poor experience with your brand. And you don’t want them creating that negative association.
Customer experience can make or break the scope of your customer base. Standing out in the sea of your competitors is far from easy, making it important for businesses to focus on the things they can control, like the customer journey.
What is the Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the predetermined path your customers usually take as they convert from being a prospect to a paying customer. While this journey definitely includes the touchpoints of the customer experience, one lies in the hands of the customer, and the other in those of the business.
Businesses control the customer journey, and customers control the customer experience.
While your brand can still take certain actions to please your buyers, resulting in a good experience, if you have a cranky customer that is expecting to be disappointed and deliberately looking for ways to criticise your business, they are going to have a negative customer experience. All you can do as a brand to combat this is offer a seamless customer journey.
A positive customer journey equals a positive customer experience.
Why is Customer Experience Important?
You want your customers to have a positive experience with your brand. When this happens, it means you have achieved the primary goal of any business: offering a solution to a customer’s problem. Besides that, there are some other reasons why customer experience is king.
It can result in customer satisfaction
First and foremost, and perhaps the most obvious reason why customer experience is important, is that, when done correctly, it can result in customer satisfaction.
When you create a consistently positive customer experience, buyers walk away after purchasing your solution feeling good about their decision. This triggers a causation that will work to the benefit of both you and your customers. The customer found a solution to their pain point, and you, the business, not only made a sale, but also served your purpose of resolving a customer’s problem.
It can create loyal customers
The more satisfaction you provide your customers, the more likely they are to become loyal to your brand. Again, this might happen without them giving it a second thought.
For example, whenever I’m at the grocery store looking at the countless options for peanut butter, I will almost immediately grab a jar of Jif (think Sun-Pat for the UK equivalent). No questions are ever asked—if I want peanut butter, I'm going to grab Jif ten times out of ten.
Why? Because it tastes great, the packaging is cute and simple, but most importantly, the brand consistently delivers an enjoyable product. Hitting that sweet spot with your customers will result in them becoming loyal to your business.
While the specific buyer doesn’t impact the revenue generated from each product sold, the cost of acquiring new customers is significantly higher than that of retaining new ones (meaning it’s more cost-effective for your business to have repeat buyers than putting time and money towards gaining new business).
Essentially, a consistently positive customer experience results in customer loyalty, which in turn reduces customer acquisition costs.
It can create customer advocates
Businesses can advocate for themselves using marketing, social media, and product demos all they want. While it can help ingrain a certain brand image in the minds of their customers, there comes a point where prospects considering a solution will turn away from advertisements and look for advice from third-parties.
For example, if my friend were perusing the peanut butter section, I would tell them they should choose Jif because it’s my personal favourite. That would make me a customer advocate, one of the most valuable tools a business can acquire by offering a positive customer experience.
It’s the same for your field service business. If you do a quality bathroom installation, fix a boiler promptly, or update a security system quickly, the customer is likely to tell their friends, thus making themselves an advocate for your services because of their positive experience.
As people become loyal to your brand, they will offer that third-party validation that potential customers are looking for on review sites, social media, or via word of mouth marketing. By focusing on your customer’s experience, rather than just closing a deal, you can create customer advocates that will do more good for your business than they even realise.
It can make you stand out
When you have a beneficial and smooth interaction with a business, you remember it, right?
Plain and simple: the experience you offer your customers can help you stand out among competitors. Nowadays, consumers don’t only look at product and pricing when considering businesses, but customer service and support as well.
Finding that advantage over other businesses in your industry can be hard, but customer experience is the perfect way to stand out as a pleasant company to do business with and improve your online reputation.
It can help you create relationships
All of the reasons why customer experience is important that are listed above boil down to one key business benefit: creating relationships.
Having mutually beneficial relationships with customers is one of the most valuable key performance indicators a business can hit. As you learn more about your customers, their pain points, and needs for a product, you can anticipate their next move and make the buying process as easy on them as possible.
Imagine walking into a store, basically being handed everything you were looking for, and walking out the door. Now that’s a positive customer experience.
Where Customer Journey and Customer Experience come together...
As stated above, there is only so much you can do to offer a positive customer experience - it’s difficult to take a customer who’s expecting to be disappointed and turn their frown upside down.
The main action businesses can take to make a difference in the customer experience is providing a killer customer journey.
The key value in creating a customer journey is empathy.
If you accurately understand the stages your customers go through and the resources they need to move forward in making a purchase, you can offer a seamless customer journey that will result in a positive customer experience.
Note on the author:
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 in Chicago, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos.
If you're eager for more, take a look at our digital portals infographic. With it, discover how you can use these gateways to elevate your customer journeys to a whole new level: