Driving competitive advantage through customer experience differentiation.
Five fundamental questions you should consider when mapping your CX journey
Customer experience (CX) is a very simple term, relating to the perceptions created by interaction with your organisation and ultimately the impression left with potential or engaged customers during any digital relationship.
It is a simple phrase for an outwardly simple dynamic, but in reality, it can form the critical competitive differentiator between your enterprise and market rivals in tight or crowded digital marketplaces.
And if you work with your agency to get it right, then the differentiators you create will be striking and highly visible to potential customers, and with engaged customers, adept CX builds loyalty and increases sales exponentially through customer recommendations.
If we apply an emotional lens and refer to ‘customer experience’ as ‘human experience’, I think this brings us closer to the reality of CX, because as they say, it’s all about people.
It’s all about what people want. When viewed through a lens that focuses on human perception, needs and a desire for a sense of worth and belonging, rather than digital process, you’re able to engage customers more quickly and with greater effect.
Here are five fundamental questions you should consider when mapping your CX journey and if applied diligently, these five waypoints will become key to all future mapping, customer engagement and care infrastructure.
How do you reach out to customers?
This question can also be turned to ‘how do potential customers find you?’ Either way, it is critically important that you understand what channels your customers use for search or communication, how they prefer to use them and when – both in terms of time of day and with what objective.
Detailed market research and continuous data analysis will provide answers to the reach question and allow you to develop interactivity in the most relevant places and at times when potential customers or your engaged buyers need you most.
The fundamental point in successful CX is that you need to be where your potential or active, loyal customers are, not the other way around. Remember, whatever you want to call it, CX is about excellent customer service and ease of doing business, and that’s what will build successful relationships.
It also makes it difficult for potential competitors to enter your space.
What do visitors use your website for?
Research shows that in the B2B space, by the time your company receives a phone call from a potential customer, that individual will have carried out considerable online research, meaning that 60 -70% of the decision-making process will be complete before the call.
So, even if you’ve made customer interactivity and engagement relevant and simple, the amount and quality of information available to both potential and engaged customers must deliver beyond expectations to help start – and build – a relationship.
Often, as part of this research process, potential customers will return to cross-check information found on competitor sites with the information on your own, and engaged customers will also carry out competitive comparisons. This means streamlining information for optimum interaction.
In other words, streamlined interaction means offering information as a service and building the quality of your customer’s experience.
What do you know about potential customers, and engaged buyers?
Delivering information, online services and products that meet or preferably exceed customer expectations will place you in a powerful competitive position and make it difficult for competitors to enter your space.
Therefore, the quality of this information is critical.
To gain meaningful insight into potential and engaged customer needs and aspirations, sensitive analytical processes should be deployed at every interactive waypoint – from email opens and clicks to website navigation – and this information must be analysed and utilised in CX development.
Artificial intelligence systems, designed to augment CX by offering or guiding customers to relevant products or solutions based on the acquisition of personalised data over time, delivers a level of customer satisfaction that builds trust in your brand, and sales based on that trust.
How do your CX activities fit with buying processes?
Careful thought must be given to buyer selection and purchase processes.
For example, if potential customers can research, select and purchase from you online even on weekends – remember, weekend days vary across geographies – low friction sales and the loyalty this delivers will be a key differentiator.
But many organisations operate on the Distributor Model, which may mean your approved Distributor needs online tools to assist with complex customer selection criteria. How these tools are configured will be critical to Distributor sales success – and your long-term relationship with them.
How can omni-channel communication deliver competitive advantage?
If you follow points three and four, you will have not only captured a great deal of information on potential and engaged buyer needs and aspirations, but – critically – you’ll also know how these needs and aspirations play out in the buying process.
This allows you to drive high quality customer experience ever-harder by delivering personalised, targeted information across known customer channels when and where they’re likely to need it most.
That means everything from messaging a simple offer to a direct customer when you know they’ll be considering a replenishment order, to maintaining dialogue with a Distributor’s salesperson as they attempt to close a deal over a period of time.
Investing in competitive advantage
As can be seen, there are some deep complexities with the implementation and maintenance of CX, but if implemented and maintained expertly it will deliver long term competitive advantage, with steady year-on-year sales growth in crowded markets.