Increasingly, customer experience is becoming the marker consumers use to determine which brands they are loyal to. That's why it is important for you to ensure the experiences your brand delivers across every part of your customer journey provide as little friction as possible in enabling your customers' success. 

As you plan out your customer experiences, note that it isn't enough to just benchmark what others in your industry are doing. Your customers don't compartmentalize their expectations of what a good experience is. Customer experience expert Shep Hyken captured this phenomenon succinctly at the Customer Engagement Transformation Exchange conference when he noted:

Customers aren't just comparing brands to their competition but compare experiences to every single interaction they've had with any company.

A few weeks ago, I was working on cleaning up some automations in my business with a software subscription I have. It was a Saturday, and I had made good progress before hitting a snag. I checked the company's knowledge base documents and couldn't find an answer to my problem. When I went to contact the company for help, I noticed they had email-only support. Ugh. After I emailed them about my problem, I received an automated response noting that I'd hear back from someone within 24 hours, unless it was a weekend, and in that case I wouldn't hear back from someone until Monday.

The work I was doing came to a screeching halt, and I couldn't move forward until I got a response. My momentum was broken, and I have yet to implement the fix customer support gave me when they wrote me back the following Monday. I was frustrated that their email support was nonexistent on the weekends. I felt like the company left me and their other customers who use their service on the weekend hanging. 

I have no idea what kind of support is normal in this particular industry. It doesn't matter, because I've grown accustomed to having live chat available for extended hours during the week, and definitely with some availability on the weekend. As a result, I was annoyed when those options weren't available to me.

How to determine the baseline level of customer experience your customers expect

Find out what your customers have grown accustomed to in terms of a baseline. It's always a good option to get direct feedback from your customers. You can figure out the options to present to them by doing a simple exercise first.

Map out all the touch points along the customer journey you offer. Then, for each element, start by having you and your team note all the different ways you all encounter this type of interaction as consumers.

For instance, if you offer your customers a way to pay for your products and services online, take some time to think about all the online checkout experiences you have with the businesses you buy from. Write down the different ways you're able to do it, and note how you feel about each of those options.

If I were to do this exercise, I'd note that I love how easy it is to pay with one click on Amazon. I'd also write down that I appreciate when a business I've purchased from at least once has my payment details on file so I don't have to enter them again.

And for businesses I'm buying from for the first time, I always appreciate when they offer PayPal as a payment option, because there have been plenty of times when I've abandoned my cart because I couldn't be bothered to get up to grab my credit card to finish the transaction. 

Make it your business to know what your customers expect as it relates to the experiences you deliver. Then deliver that level as a baseline, and strive to overdeliver on those expectations when you can.