Customer Experience: A Crucial Branding Asset

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Image Source: Zumaeta Group

Ipswitch EVP and CMO, Jeanne Hopkins, will be leading a session—“A Customer Experience Turnaround: 5 (Painful) Lessons Learned”— at the MassTLC Growth Conference in October. In the blog post below, she explains what “customer experience” (CX) means and why it is a crucial part of a company’s brand.
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When it comes to technology, we evaluate products and services on the “user experience” (UX) they provide. Is the product or service both useful and easy to use, so it truly benefits the buyer/end-user? Essentially “customer experience” (CX) is the same thing, but in a broader context. Whereas UX is hands-on and functionally oriented, CX combines that with more ephemeral factors – the psychological and emotional impressions that play such an important role in customer decision making.

It takes both UX and CX to win over customers long-term. Unfortunately, it is entirely possible to offer both outstanding user experience and lousy customer experience. No wonder savvy B2B marketers are optimizing a whole host of things that, ultimately, add up to superior overall customer experience.

Why CX Matters
The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 75% of consumers expect to have a consistent experience no matter how they engage with a brand, and two-thirds expect real-time responsiveness.
  • 48% of consumers worldwide expect to be treated better because they are a good customer.
  • One-third cite a lack of personalization as their reason for having dumped a business relationship within the past year. They expect the brands they engage with to know them as individuals.
  • Customers are no longer willing to put up with lousy service. Last year, the American Express Customer Service Barometer revealed that more than half of American consumers canceled a planned purchase or other transaction due to bad service.

Happy customers are five times as likely to repurchase, and three times as likely to recommend a company or business, than unhappy customers. (Of course, unhappy customers are more than happy to “recommend” your faults and failures to one and all, spreading the word about their poor experience to warn others off.)

But most don’t speak up when they’re not satisfied, they simply leave. That’s the case for more than 90% of non-complainers. That’s a huge potential loss, but with a proactive customer experience strategy in place, you can combat customer flight and indifference with valuable engagement that builds long-term brand loyalty. Greater loyalty means higher customer lifetime value, and that adds up to better-than-average revenue growth.

CX has become a crucial branding asset
With more choice, more access to information, and less incentive to be loyal, today’s customers are firmly in control of their relationships with companies. Consumers and business buyers alike seek differentiated experiences based on trust and understanding, and will shop around to find them. In fact, experience is already overtaking price and product as the primary brand differentiator. And Gartner predicts it will remain the #1 consideration for B2B buyers in the coming years.

That’s good news on the revenue front. Premium brands have long known that customers will pay more for a higher quality product. It turns out they’re willing to pay more for exceptional experiences, too.

All customers are people
One commentator asks, “Is there any effective difference between B2C and B2B anymore?”

When people put on their “B2B buyer” hat, they do not shed their personas and suddenly become perfectly rational, “just the facts” decision makers. Just as they do for a consumer purchase, they consult social media, online reviews, and colleagues to solicit opinions before making buying decisions.

They are influenced by intangibles such as their prospective supplier’s reputation, their previous experience with the procurement team, and their own personal preferences.

In short, they are complex individuals. They expect companies to recognize that and cater to them individually. Companies that rise to meet that challenge will catch the attention and long-term respect of customers. Salesforce tells us that, while Millennials may be leading the way when it comes to consumer-grade expectations, more than half of Baby-Boomers totally agree. They expect personalized engagement, and they’ll dump you if they don’t get it.

B2B or B2C, human connection is the crucial common denominator.

Most of us say we “get it” – but do we?
Things are changing. CX matters. Forrester reports that 72% of businesses claim their #1 priority is improving customer experience. Yet most of us still aren’t doing much about it. Some sources estimate as few as 14% of B2B companies are actually customer-centric in terms of the experience they deliver.

Smart brands are stepping into the gap and stepping out in front of their competition.
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Read the second part of this post, Implementing a CX-Forward Approach, here.

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