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The power of customer experience in the age of digitization

August 30, 2019

Mike Winder   

Senior Vice President of Customer Service & Operations

We all know that delivering a good customer service experience is important for modern businesses but just how much value should you place on its impact? More than you might think.

Would you be surprised to learn that businesses leading with customer experience (CX) exceed revenue growth of those that don’t by almost 15%? A Salesforce report which surveyed over 6,700 consumers and business buyers worldwide found that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key differentiator. It also found that emerging technologies play a key role in influencing customer expectations. Brands that manage to win the customer’s trust have a clear competitive advantage. In fact, a staggering 95% of customers said that trusting a company increased their loyalty. Clearly, experience-driven businesses outperform others on attracting, retaining, and engaging customers.

“CX is not only a big driver of growth and retention but it is also the key to survival and sustained differentiation.”

Trust and ease of use: foundational principles for CX

Sleep products retailer Casper is a perfect example of how trust and credibility can win the day. At a time when retailers and consumers were convinced that mattresses had to be bought in a physical store where they could be tested, Casper came up with an original concept—the ‘mattress in a box.’ The company would ship mattresses to customers who could test it for a whole 100 days, instead of the three minutes they would customarily receive at a physical store. A relatively simple concept and yet, the company, founded in 2014, posted revenues in the region of $400 million and is valued at over a billion.

Another brand that turned traditional customer experience on its head was Dollar Shave Club. Founded in 2011, it offered a $1 monthly subscription service to razors. Not only did they remove the friction of buying a low-involvement product like razors each month, but they also made it easy to do so. When customer experience expert Shep Hyken’s razor handle broke, they replaced it, no questions asked. As he says, “Everything Dollar Shave Club does, creates confidence. Confidence gives them a great reputation and loyal repeat customers – or should I say, members. Dollar Shave Club is the total package. Great value with great service.” Five years after inception, they were acquired by Unilever for $1 billion.

Clearly, both these brands set a benchmark for exemplary customer experience by demonstrating that they had the customer’s best interests at heart. They managed to delight customers through the two simplest and yet timeless CX principles: ease of use and trust.

“They both began at a disruptive point of the customer journey—not at the point of where their profits would come from but what would be most advantageous to the customer. The revenue followed.” 

B2B companies too would do well to learn from these examples—and innovate relentlessly.

The power of recommendation as a growth multiplier

In the digital age, the stakes and opportunities are higher than ever before. Digitisation works in two ways: one, it allows the disruption of traditional business models, and two, it allows positive and negative experiences to go viral.

Today, negative customer experiences are extremely costly because bad customer reviews almost always translate to poor Net Promoter Scores (NPS); in turn, impacting profitability. Potential consumers gather information from primary and secondary sources, including surveys and peer reviews. This could mean that purchase decisions are made entirely on the basis of another person’s testimonial.

As Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, once pointed out, “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” And they do. On an average, customers are about 50% more likely to report bad experiences than good ones.

As we can see from Shep Hyken’s description of his experience with the Dollar Shave Club, these testimonials often place emphasis on how an issue was handled, the support a customer received and the processes a company followed, rather than just the end resolution.

What it means to put customers first

Often, companies imagine that technical and functional prowess translates to better profit margins. While products definitely need to meet expectations, what sets one brand apart from another is good service support and a strong amalgamation of people and processes.

According to a Gartner survey, companies that implement customer experience projects should begin by focusing on ways they collect and analyse customer feedback. This is a great starting point for meeting your customers’ expectations.