Customer experience is a hot topic these days. Data shows that customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. That same research highlights that for some customers, experience trumps both price and product as the key brand differentiator. Delivering remarkable customer experiences can fuel the growth of your company.

Even though many companies are beginning to recognize the importance of customer experience, many still struggle with how to do it in practice with any degree of consistency.

I talked with Ted Smith, Director of Market Insights at ZenDesk, a customer service and engagement platform. He told me that his team has analyzed more than 100,000 of their customers, and noticed a key difference between the companies that shine in customer experience versus those that don't:

One of the themes we see among companies that are really excelling is that customer experience is a key part of their business strategy. It's not viewed as sort of a cost, but rather it's an opportunity to differentiate their product and service. And so the conversation isn't, "How do we support our customers?" But it's rather, "How do we constantly improve the experience for our customers so that we can make them increasingly loyal and drive incremental value for our business?"

To effectively execute that strategy, delivering memorable experiences needs to permeate through your company culture. One way to ensure that happens is by making it a part of your core mission.

If you look at the missions of companies that are known for delivering remarkable experiences, you'll see that it is baked right into the statement. Here's Disney's:

Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.

Zappos calls out "Delivering wow through service" as the first of their ten core values. And in their credo, The Ritz-Carlton makes a bold declaration that showcases the priority they place on experience: "The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests."

To make the customer experience a growth engine for your company, build it into your company's DNA. Then it'll be easier to get everyone on your team to keep it at the forefront of their minds as they look for opportunities to improve it as they go about their daily work.

Why customer experience isn't just the job of customer support

Sure, your front line teams such as customer service, support, and even your sales force may have more direct interaction with customers than other functions. But everyone in your company plays a role in delivering standout experiences that draw your customers closer to you.

Smith echoed the sentiment:

The customer experience is the responsibility of everyone in an organization. It's not just customer support, but certainly customer support is at the tip of the sphere. And so from my perspective, the role of support is to help customers get on with their day. It's to help them get their question or their issue resolved with a minimal amount of friction in a way that, that customer wants to interact. 

To reduce the friction associated with helping your customers get to their desired state, everyone in your company needs to be working toward the same goal when it comes to customer experience. Otherwise, you may end up with policies that are in conflict with each other.

For instance, I worked with a client who wanted to improve their customers' experience by producing more dynamic and relevant content. But before they could even get to a point of creating the content, they first had to work to ensure their legal team would allow them to publish the type of material they desired. 

You also need to empower your team to act in a manner that delivers a better experience. That may mean providing training on how to have authentic conversations with customers, rather than requiring them to read from a detailed script.

Incentives need to be aligned to delivering the experience you desire as well.

Some companies have stringent time targets in place that encourage their team to minimize time spent on a call with a customer, whether or not an issue has been resolved. Incentives and policies like those support volume, rather than customer success.

Elevate the priority of the experience you deliver to your customers along every aspect of their journey with you. When everyone in your company works together toward the common goal of delivering remarkable experiences, your brand will stand out. You'll win more customers and earn their loyalty as a result as well.

Published on: Oct 12, 2018