Gartner found that 89% of companies believe that customer experience will be the most important element of competition in 2016, compared to only 36% in 2010. These numbers prove that customer experience is more than just a trend, and that it’s worth investing in. Bain found that 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience. Can you guess how many of their customers agree with them? The answer is 8%.
Customer experience has to be the most important consideration for companies, because increased competition and easy access to information, quality, and technology has resulted in products looking alike and providing consumers similar experiences.
What is customer experience? It is defined by the elements of place, process, and people. Place refers to the environment in which the experience occurs, whether online or in a store. Everyone is upgrading their retail environment by investing in makeovers and upgrades. Customers appreciate this, but do not think it creates a distinct advantage; it actually just removes a disadvantage. Customers utilize their senses to determine whether or not the place where the experience occurs lives up to their brand expectations, and their lifestyle brand set.
Process is about the way the experience is delivered, and the time it takes. Technology is creating some distinct advantages in delivery because millennials prefer to utilize it as a part of their experience. With readily available access to technology today, companies that are not utilizing it to improve or offer alternative options are missing an opportunity.
The people element refers to the attitude and mindset of the people who deliver the experience. Of these elements, people provide companies the greatest opportunity to stand out. After all, the people delivering the experience are the one element that cannot be replicated, unless your employees are working multiple jobs. Your people’s knowledge, ability to engage with customers, and attitude can make a customer feel good; that’s something they will want to revisit. Consider whether you have the right people in place to build lasting relationships with customer and offer a superior customer experience.
Your brand is your reputation, and your reputation is your people’s ability to deliver on your brand promise. As Steve Cannon, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA said, “Customer Experience is the new marketing.” You can spend a lot of money on marketing your brand promise to your customers, but if your operations are not delivering on that promise, then your brand is in trouble.