Customer loyalty has changed significantly in the last decade. Businesses exist in an increasingly customer-led environment: the rapid evolution of technology, along with a coming-of-age of millennial consumers has had a transformative effect on customer expectations. And one of the biggest components of this expectation is the idea of customer experience.
Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all interactions a customer has with your business, and should be distinguished from user experience (UX), which is the experience that the user (your customer) has with a specific product or service of yours.
When we talk about user experience (UX) – using our tech startup in Manchester as the example – we’re talking about desktop software, mobile apps and the website browser that your customer encounters and interacts with. We need to ask the following questions: How intuitive is the interface? Is it easy to use and navigate? Is it clear in its information architecture? Does it solve the correct problem? Does it provide the right service?
Any business that wishes to remain competitive in this new landscape needs to understand the difference between customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX), and be able to adapt their business practices accordingly.
So, why is customer experience more important than ever? Research from former Gartner analyst Esteban Kolsky has suggested that 55 per cent of customers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience. Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. The rest churn. Absence of feedback or complaints doesn’t necessarily mean satisfaction – indifference really is the opposite of love. Sixty-seven per cent of customers cite bad experiences as reason for churn and it is six to seven times more expensive for companies to attract new customers than to keep existing customers.
Whatever your business, be it a burger joint in Manhattan or a small tech firm in Manchester, you need to provide value and differentiation. That’s how you stand out in any market – even the most crowded. And today, it seems that customer experience is the last source of differentiation. So, be outstanding.
Let’s look in more detail at how CX differs from UX and why that matters to you, and more importantly, to your customers.
As stated previously, CX takes into account the entire experience that your customer has when they deal with you and your brand, not solely the product. Yes, in the old days that meant walking into your burger place and rating the food, the service and the price. This would be the whole of the customer experience, right? It’s the same basic principle, but now what a customer can rate you on is much broader, and crucially they can decide not to walk into your business way before they even see the restaurant or the menu. Points to consider are: What is the first point of contact for your potential customers? How easy is it for customers to find answers to their questions? How pleasant and professional is the interaction process? Do they feel positive about their overall experience and everything associated with your organisation? What role is new media, like Facebook and Twitter, having on your customer points of contact?
What makes your users ‘users’ (or the person eating at the burger restaurant) is that they are involved in using your product. What makes them customers has to do with everything else. What’s important to keep in mind is your customers’ entire journey with your organisation. In fact, your customer may not even use your service before they are turned off: CX takes in potential customers and their experiences before they put hands near wallets. The customer journey now begins much sooner than it might have even five years ago. Thanks to things like social media and the digital transformation at large, customers can now encounter your business in a wider variety of ways and can be delighted or put off before they even get near your product.
If UX is one important pillar under the roof of CX, then both are very important. If your UX is poor, then people will think twice about your services. However, even if your website is fast and well signposted, your app convenient to use, your burger the best in town, if you have an ill-tempered or unprofessional customer service team at the helm when someone calls to enquire or complain, you are going to struggle to attract the numbers your product deserves, or to cement such loyalty as we mentioned above.
So, like any complicated relationship, UX and CX need each other in more ways than we might at first realise. Both are vital parts of your business’s growth, so don’t mix them up: treat them with the attention that they deserve, and you’ll reap the benefits.