These factors mean that the customer experience matters more than ever before. Because consumers are more likely to spend their money on a business they are emotionally invested in, companies have been forced to reevaluate how they view, manage, and improve customer experience.
The age of the consumer
While businesses used to control the market, that control now lies firmly in the hands of the consumer. Whereas there used to be a limited local selection of goods and services available, your competition is now a simple Google search away. Because of this, the customer experience is more important than ever.
Especially for businesses providing consumer goods and services, customer experience can create or cripple the expansion of the business. Online reviews remain one of the primary way consumers select service providers; unfortunately, it seems that only customers who have absolutely fantastic or unbelievably horrible experiences post online feedback. Because of this, one (or more) bad reviews can seriously negatively impact a business.
Improving the customer experience
Although businesses have begun to shift to more consumer-oriented practices, it is often difficult for company leadership to identify with customer experiences. Think of a pilot at the end of a flight; while he considers the trip a success because the flight landed safely, he has no idea the struggles or drama that occurred in the cabin. So too CEOs, CFOs, and other executives are removed from customer experiences.
One way to improve the customer experience is through engagement on social media. Social media provides businesses with unprecedented access to the customers – and their complaints. More and more, disgruntled customers are airing their complaints on social media, sharing their negative stories with their followers. In situations like this, losing one customer can suddenly turn into losing dozens – if not more. Oftentimes, a simple reply to a tweet or post can help consumers feel heard or understood, turning them from bitter and disgruntled into loyal fans.
Another way to improve customer experience is by allowing real consumers to test new software, products, or procedures. Oftentimes, the desire is to have all the kinks ironed out before new solutions are presented to the customers. Unfortunately, this can often backfire, creating situations in which real consumer experiences and input have been disregarded. Instead, green light new services or products in target areas or with selected customers; not only can their feedback help improve your new idea, but customers often appreciate the ability to be trusted to test and review new products.
In the digital age, customer experience can make or break a business. By improving customer experience, you can help ensure that, no matter what happens in the economy, your business will continue to thrive and grow.