Experimental Cravings: The Customer Experience

An important part of a brand's strategy is to consider the customer experience. Connect on a deeper level to provide meaningful experiences and build trust and loyalty.

Night Sky Astronaut

By Jessica Gray

Stuff happens. And happens, and happens some more. We’re inundated with a never-ending barrage of products. We have sold, promoted and bought products like it was part of our DNA. Some would argue that our entire consumerist economy is built on the idea of shoving products down our collective throats. While selling may seem like second nature to many of us, it may no longer be required. The onslaught of products over the course of time has led us to a place where stuff matters less than the experience. Having the latest and greatest means nothing unless a level of trust is associated with it. People make purchases based on deeper connections with a brand and an experience they crave.

“As we’ve become inundated with low-quality content everywhere we turn, it’s the interactions that bring us into an experience that makes companies stand apart,” says Carla Johnson, keynote speaker, author and Chief Experience Officer at Type A Communications. “I’m not just going to work out; I’m going to use the Nike Fitness app to become a better athlete. That’s an experience.”

There’s a lot of irony in the idea that, in the Connection Age, people may be more detached than ever before. While they may be more informed, the lack of raw engagement with others deprives them of something more meaningful. This deprivation creates a need for human connection and authentic experiences that are uniquely their own. Sellers have no choice but to figure out a way to provide experiences that satisfy this craving.

Customer experience (CX) matters to the best organizations. They appoint CX leaders and invest in measuring their CX effectiveness. According to Forrester research, organizations with CX leaders achieved compound annual revenue growth rates (CAGR) of 17 percent compared to just 3 percent for those without CX leadership. In turn, Accenture’s 2015 CX survey found that 86 percent of B2B executives consider customer experiences to be very important, while a mere 57 percent feel they’re below average executing on CX initiatives.


Metrics matter

Customer experience insecurity stems from the inability to measure it. Qualitative data is always tough and, according to Calabrio, 47 percent of CMOs don’t believe they have the right tools to understand their customers’ needs. Thirty-one percent of senior leaders believe integrating customer data is the greatest challenge their company faces.

“People fall into the practice of measuring what’s measurable rather than measuring what matters to the work that they do,” Johnson says. 

But data is difficult when it comes to relationships. “They have to genuinely care about what matters to the people with whom they’re trying to connect,” Johnson says. “This means understanding them as buyers, mapping out the entire customer journey – not just the buyer journey – and communicating with them where, when and how people find things interesting to them.”

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A study by The Economist and Genesys highlights the value of investment and support in CX. Thirty-three percent of survey respondents cited better customer retention as a primary benefit, and 28 percent said they had experienced increased sales. In short, it is hard to measure but is far too important to ignore.  

Several metrics have emerged for companies to feel the pulse of the market and assess their respective customer experience. For example, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an index that illustrates how prepared a customer is to recommend you to other people. Customers are separated into three categories (Promoters, Passives, Detractors), which generally are calculated using survey information by subtracting the detractor percentage from the promoter percentage.

The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is the average score given to your brand according to customer answers based on a survey. The traditional CSAT surveys include questions to expose how pleased the patrons are with merchandise or a particular service on a scale of 1-5. Companies conclude they’re doing well if at least 70 percent opt for either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied.”

Finally, the Customer Effort Score (CES) shows the total effort to execute a particular task. Answers range from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree,” with point values ranging from 1 to 5. Possible challenges to uncover within the CES are things like getting transferred to and from multiple departments for information and feeling “tossed around” or making repeated phone calls to resolve an issue.

These type of measurements are particularly useful when it comes to the next generation of buyers who have very little interest in putting forth any effort to get what they want or to complete a task. Millennials and Generation Z have never known a world where they had to wait for anything. They have a different set of priorities than past generations and approach the world in totally new ways.

“Gen Z is more curious, humble and independent than the Millennial generation,” says Trish Witkowski, a sought-after speaker and CEO of Foldfactory. “They are collaborative, self-directed, industrious, socially-conscious and obsessed with connectivity. Gen Z does not understand a world without 24/7 access. They don’t believe in hours of operation, so you need to be prepared to be responsive and to have content for them to consume.”

Young people want what they want when they want it, and they have little patience for anything less than immediate service. “As the first truly digitally native generation, Gen Z responds to the tangibility and ‘magic’ of personalized print combined with digital strategies (print+mobile),” Witkowski says. “Analog is intriguing to them. They love mail, and they enjoy receiving relevant print products produced just for them.” 

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