In the digital age, customer experience is king. In the past, delivering a poor experience meant, at worst, getting a negative review or being lambasted on social media. Those things still happen, of course, but increasingly companies are watching their revenue dwindle as more customer-centric competitors rise to take their place.
Today, two-thirds of companies compete on customer experience alone (compared to 36 percent in 2010). Delivering a seamless, paperless and broker-free CX is how insurance app Lemonade grew from a promising startup to a publicly traded company worth billions. The simple goal of bringing humanity back to air travel is how JetBlue became a customer favorite. And revolutionizing consignment shopping with a mobile app is how ThredUp raised hundreds of millions in funding.
The reality is that today’s businesses are operating in an environment where their top competitors are just a click away. Low prices, free shipping and lots of choices are no longer differentiators—they’re a given. Brands must stand out by delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Of course, everyone knows that better service makes for happy customers. But do happier customers translate to higher profits? As a matter of fact, they do. Industry leaders in customer experience have been shown to outstrip the performance of CX stragglers by almost 80 percent. And according to one study, satisfied customers spend 140 percent more on average and stay with a company five years longer.
Not only that, but focusing on customer experience actually reduces the cost of customer care. Happy customers are much less likely to return products or demand a refund. They make fewer calls to customer support, thereby reducing the cost of support staff.
Of course, everyone knows that better service makes for happy customers.
How to Create a Better Customer Experience
Based on the data, developing an obsessive customer focus should be a no-brainer. Here are three practical ways to revolutionize your CX:
1. Focus on the moments that matter.
Everyone intuitively knows the difference between a good customer experience and a bad one. We’ve all had the experience of waiting on hold for 20 minutes and being transferred to three different people. There’s a reason those moments stick with us.
In its research on customer retention, Accenture found that there are specific customer interactions — known as “moments that matter” — that have an outsized influence on customer happiness. Forty-three percent of customers say their brand loyalty is significantly impacted by their experiences with customer service.
The moments that matter most include the interactions that take place when customers pay a bill, upgrade or change services, call with a technical question or have a billing issue. By examining how customers are treated at these critical moments, you can drastically boost customer happiness and improve brand loyalty.
2. Use data to deliver an effortless experience.
When you look at the “moments that matter” to customers, you’ll notice that none of them involves warm chocolate chip cookies. For a few years there, the conventional wisdom held that delivering a superior CX consisted of surprising and delighting your customers. It turns out that what they really want is for dealing with you to require less effort.
Monday.com was able to do exactly that and use their data to improve the customer experience experience. By utilizing customer service quality assurance platform, MaestroQA, monday.com was able to see their monthly quality audits increase forty-eight percent, which in turn allowed them to spot gaps in the customer experience, leading to fixes that reduced their average handle time (AHT). Since their AHT decreased – in tandem with maintaining measures of customer satisfaction – it meant their customers’ problems were being solved faster as agents maintained the quality of interactions.
Using the data you already have is important to see what you can evaluate and see how to improve your customer experience. The more you can customize the interactions and see where you can remove friction from the customer experience, the better the experience may be for both your customers and your employees.
3. Empower agents to find solutions.
Sometimes companies with the best intentions inadvertently poke holes in their customer experience. They might provide stellar training to agents, but when it comes time to actually solve a customer’s problem, agents are powerless to help. Either agents don’t have the information to answer a customer’s question, or they’re hamstrung by hierarchy.
Amazon knows that powerless agents are CX killers, which is why one of its six customer service tenets is “Trust our customers and rely on associates to use good judgment.” Anytime a customer calls Amazon’s toll-free number, the agent who answers has the power to issue a refund or help the customer track down a missing package.
Trader Joe’s is another company known for empowering employees to go above and beyond. One day, a woman called a local store asking about delivery. Her 89-year-old father was snowed in, and she was concerned that he couldn’t get groceries. Trader Joe’s doesn’t technically offer delivery, but this store made an exception and brought a full order directly to his door. This is an example of a company whose customer focus is so strong that employees don’t let policy get in the way of an exceptional CX.
Creating an amazing customer experience is now as much of a science as it is an art. You need accurate data to uncover areas that need improvement, but you also need a lot of heart. You need to work to understand customer pain points and empower your employees to remove friction at every turn. Today the companies that stand out in customer experience are those that act with the customer’s best interest in mind.