This is exactly what’s happening to businesses today, who are continuously asking “what do my customers want?” The old plan was simple for most companies: provide incremental product improvements and increase the price. Simple enough. If you’re a hotel chain, customers probably just want a room that’s a little more comfortable, a fast wi-fi connection, and perhaps a couple free bottles of water, right?
That seemed to work for awhile… well, until Airbnb launched in 2008 and disrupted the whole hospitality industry by punching them in the face. Turns out travelers don’t want to pay high prices to stay in hotels that are located far from the sites and events they want to experience.
The problem is that so many companies heavily rely on market research to determine what their customers want, but market research tends to only tell half the story.
Oftentimes I’ve found that what the customer thinks isn’t always the same as what the customer does.
Customer Experience (CX)
Customer Experience (CX) goes beyond developing trendy products and services.
From a customer perspective, CX is a holistic perception of their experience with your business or brand. CX is the result of every interaction a customer has with your business, from navigating the website to talking to customer service and receiving the product/service they bought from you.
From a business perspective, CX is really about listening to your customers, identifying their needs, and then developing meaningful experiences to meet their needs in order to continuously build trust and grow the customer relationship.
In the past, good customer experiences were made up of three things:
- Usable – Intuitive and easy to use
- Reliable – Available and accurate
- Functional – Delivers value
However, expectations are always changing, where customers now expect meaningful, pleasurable, and convenient experiences. This new reality has opened up the door to companies willing to invest in their Customer Experience, often leading to disruption.
Optimize CX for Disruption
While everyone knows that Apple is an incredible disruptor, many may not know that they’ve continuously built loyalty by radically enhancing their CX.
It starts with Apple designing and developing incredibly beautiful and intuitive products, which customers love due to the brilliant design and ease of use.
From there, Apple’s digital experience works seamlessly across all of their hardware products with incredible performance and almost zero malware. This is attributed to the fact that their products are designed and deployed in a closed ecosystem, built with the best engineers in the world, and all 3rd party apps are thoroughly reviewed and tested before publishing into the App Store.
For customer engagement, Apple has opened 270 stores that provide a high-touch learning and support experience with Apple experts via the Genius Bar.
By the numbers, Apple was a late entrant to retail when they first launched the Apple Store in 2001, and now it’s one of the most valuable retailers in the market even though is has the fewest stores!
All of this equates to one of the leading Customer Experiences in the tech industry with an extremely loyal – cult like – customer base, having reached 90% loyalty in 2018. And this extreme focus on CX enables the type of disruption that Apple has seen in retail, music, phone, computers, etc.
This is directly a result of Steve Jobs’ brilliance at not only building Apple, but how he operated it and built the products that revolutionized the technology industry and the lives of millions of their customers who use their products daily.
Key Benefits of CX
1. Increased Customer Loyalty and Retention
Exceptional Customer Experience (CX) builds a foundation of loyalty and improves customer retention. Customers are willing to pay more for the same products and services if they feel the companies are providing extra value through interactions. And companies that provide the extra value are rewarded with long-term loyalty.
2. More Customer Acquisitions
According to a Nielsen, about 92% of consumers rely on recommendations from their friends and families to make decisions on product & services. Innovative companies are leveraging their media presence to cultivate customer trust.
3. Better Customer Engagement
Consumers trust businesses they already know, so companies are enhancing customer engagement via communicating to their existing customers in all channels with value-added propositions. This creates an atmosphere where consumers are willing to share their needs with companies, and companies can provide improved products.
4. Increased Customer Conversions
An existing, satisfied customer is more likely to buy than a new prospect. Designing a CX that prioritize relationships, and creates a lifecycle of feedback and product offerings will increase conversion rates.
5. Reduced Cost of Service and Marketing
A CX-centric approach helps companies understand their customers better. This removes the guessing what customers want, which can add up to big savings in marketing costs.
6. Improved Crisis Management
Trust is a pillar of great customer experience. When customers trust a business, they are more likely to communicate any complaints directly. This enables a company to manage its’ brand reputation without public outrage or humiliation.
Leading companies understand that they are now in the customer-experience business, and more businesses plan on competing by CX differentiation alone. Technological advances are occurring at a vastly accelerated pace; yesterday’s innovations are old news today. From a CX perspective, the challenge is to identify what is useful, meaningful and desirable for customers. Extraordinary gains in CX happen when new technologies are humanized and made relevant to people’s needs and wants. And it’s now clear that business leaders are quickly learning that how an organization delivers for customers is just as important as what it delivers.