The importance of customer experience
In this article we look at the importance of customer experience in terms of satisfaction with a service or purchase and what can be done to ensure a good customer experience. We look at how this acts to differentiate one provider from another.
A customer's experience is very important more so today that it has ever been. One could compare it to gold dust when it comes to running a successful business. Good experiences helps show a business that they are doing things right, helps show that the business is good at what it does and will influence others to use the same business themselves.
For example, customers at restaurant that serves excellent meals, that are prompt in serving each course, and has well trained and knowledgeable waiting staff and chiefs will have excellent experiences.
On the other hand bad experiences will hurt a business because customers will more likely talk about a bad experience than good experiences and these can become public places as the social networks like Twitter and Facebook. 26% of customers typically post of social networks after a bad experience. 89% of will stop doing business after a bad experience with a firm.
A continuous overlapping loop
Today the process of purchasing a service or product is no longer a linear process and is more like a continuous overlapping loop starting from the need for a product, such as a new smart phone, to research of the product followed by selection and purchase of the product. This is followed by receiving the item and it use. This is followed by maintaining and recommendations and back to the need.
Customer bounce from place to place
Customers also tend to bounce from place to place when looking for products and services. Customers may start in catalogue either in store or online, they may find reviews online and start there. Typically men do more comparisons. Customers may then go to comparison websites and social networks finally arriving at the store and or provider and start the purchase process. Customers tend to jump online in the event of issues with the item and hit the social networks and forums.
Companies must consider this process as a customer’s journey to that service or product. The experience of a customer is gold and so each part of the process must be looked into to ensure the experience of the customer leads to satisfaction.
What must companies do?
In order for companies to give a great experience to their customers they should do some of the following:
- Meet the customer’s expectations. These could be a swift delivery time, free delivery or a smooth buying process with no break points such as broken links to product pages or poor layout.
- Provide a consistent voice during the purchase. One could view this as a consistent layout of a service provider’s own website or ordering process.
- Provide a personalised service where possible and in a sensible way, for example a web page saying “Thank you for your order and citing your first name” at the end.
- Provide an efficient service. Customers typically want to purchase most goods and services very quickly so the buying process must be short, within 4 or less steps. Also the after sales support should be just as efficient.
As web designers, what can they do?
- Web designers can design websites to make navigation around the website as simple as possible. This can be achieved by grouping pages under main sections at the top of the page and by using drop down menus or similar expanding menus functions.
- Section and areas of the website need to easy to find without customers needing to think to hard else they will go away. This can be achieved by setting out the website so that sections, particular pages and contact information including crucial telephone, email addresses and support chat functions can be found easily.
- Designers should avoid unexpected windows and unhelpful pop ups because these can infuriate and annoy website visitors and drive they away. These typically appear in the centre of the screen. Windows and pop ups are okay when they are called up by the visitor because these will be useful.
- Shopping carts can be programmed to be clearly set out and minimize the number of steps to within four steps because online shoppers want to quickly shop and pay. Nice friendly messages confirming their purchase both in email and on the screen will also help.
Many marketers firmly believe that customer experience is now the new differentiator and statistics show that 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience. Therefore the better the service given to customers the better their experience which leads to customer retention and loyalty.