Customers have nearly limitless choices. How you treat them is more important than marginal differences in price.
October 30, 2018 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Competitive product quality and price aren’t enough anymore. There’s no mistaking the fact that customer experience (CX) is a focus as a brand differentiator. According to a worldwide survey by Salesforce, 79 percent of consumers prioritize CX just as highly as products or services when doing business with a company. If that isn’t enough, according to 67 percent of respondents, their expectations are the highest they’ve ever been.
CX has emerged as a differentiator, largely thanks to e-commerce giants like Amazon that make it easy to browse and compare millions of product prices all in one place. Combined with globalization and the broadened reach of manufacturing and supply chains, the result is that high-quality products and decent pricing are no longer enough to get a brand noticed. Instead, the companies that rise to the top are the ones that deliver a superlative CX.
Many executives worry about incurring unsustainable costs in their efforts to drive customer loyalty, but delivering a top-notch experience doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. Even if you don’t have the budget of these big names, you can still follow their lead to improve your customer experience.
1. Extend hospitality like Apple.
Just one negative experience is enough to send 17 percent of formerly loyal customers looking elsewhere. If customers who already love your brand can leave after a single bad experience, imagine the costs of making a poor first impression.
That’s why, before the company ever opened a retail store, Apple sent its future managers to attend training hospitality seminars put on by the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain. The takeaways? Apple employees now follow the same three steps of service: a sincere greeting, fulfillment of needs and a farewell using the guest’s name. The hospitality paradigm is important across all industries.
2. Make your brand accessible like Hulu.
You can’t get valuable customer feedback if your customers have no way to get in touch with you. And if you can’t get feedback, how will you maintain and improve your brand’s CX?
When video streaming service Hulu was anticipating rapid growth, its customer service was primed for scaling. Thanks to a contact center created in partnership with Twilio, the Hulu team was able to sustain a customized support experience throughout the growth of its premium subscription, Hulu Plus.
Even as Hulu has become a content delivery powerhouse, the company stays laser-focused on customer service. Twilio’s API integrates with Hulu’s CRM, allowing agents to access all the user information they need to provide high-quality, personalized service. If no support representatives are available, customers can schedule a callback time, and the CRM will automatically call when someone becomes available.
3. Personalize recommendations like Amazon and Netflix.
According to a study by KPMG, personalization is the most important of six CX components. The bigger your inventory gets, the more critical it is to personalize content.
Consider Netflix. It has a titanic customer base and an overwhelming catalog. A customer won’t wade through 1,569 TV shows and 4,010 movies to find the most appealing one. Amazon has a similar situation, with 564 million product listings in the U.S. alone. The answer, of course, is personalization. By making data-based, relevant product suggestions to customers, your brand with feel more accessible no matter the size.
CX is critical, and it will only grow in importance as the world’s best companies continue to set the bar higher. As you make improvements to your own practices, keep one eye on the leaders in your industry to stay abreast of the latest trends. Refining the customer experience is a journey, not a destination — as long as you’re striving to improve, you’re on the right path.