Conventionally, the competitive advantage of a business organization was focused on price product differentiation. But, with the myriad of choices available for the customer in the market today, things have taken a shift. Customers are keen on brands that emotionally appeal to them in terms of commendable treatment. They look into the quality of customer-brand interactions for purchasing decisions. More importantly, customers are no longer hesitant to switch between brands – unless you provide them a fabulous customer experience.
Did you know that on average, customers tell nine people about a positive customer experience but tell sixteen people about a negative experience? It’s not hard to see the potential loss here.
So, customer experience can be the make-it or break-it point for businesses today. If you are well-versed about your customer requirements beforehand and strive to provide an experience too good to deny, you are on the right track. But, if CX has been an area that you have sidestepped until now, it’s time you stop and look back.
How is Customer Experience a Competitive Advantage?
As Kerry Bodine, the co-author of Outside In puts it, “exceptional customer experiences are the only sustainable platform for competitive differentiation.” This rings true as customer experiences are indefinitely tied to business outcomes that determine the success or failure of a business. Here’s how it helps you win competition and keeps you in the frontline ahead of others.
- Customer’s loyalty to your brand over others
Providing exceptional customer experience builds a sense of strong preference for your brand over others. They turn into loyal customers who choose to remain by your side, forgive your mistakes, and take your brand ahead. As the trust strengthens, your product/service becomes one of their autopilot purchasing decisions elevating the reputation further.
- Increased sales and performance
Loyalty is not the only factor that keeps you in the frontier of the competition. Studies have shown 73% of CX focused businesses perform better financially. Moreover, businesses that lead in customer experience outperform others by 80%. The increase in sales as you improve customer experience will help your business grow and expand.
- Expanding potential customer base
Customers are not only inclined to purchase your goods repeatedly. They also recommend it to other people enhancing your brand visibility. There will be an increase in the conversion rate as more customers flock to try your products without much marketing effort. According to a global survey done by Nielson, 84% of consumers claimed they are prompted to take action and make purchasing decisions based on personal recommendations.
Ways to Make CX Your New Competitive Edge
Truth is, every business, with or without conscious effort, provides its customers with some kind of experience. But, in order to truly reap the benefits of CX, a strategy that solely focuses on customer-centric activities is necessary. It doesn’t stop here. You have to align your strategic efforts in a manner that it gives you a competitive advantage.
So, if you want CX to be your best weapon in the battleground, you have to elevate and fine-tune what you are already offering or intend to offer to your customers. Here are some ways to transform CX as your new armor.
Improve your regular customer interactions
Start from scratch. Look at how you interact with customers throughout the customer journey. Be in the customer’s position, and improvise on what can be done better. If there are areas that you have overlooked before such as the manner in which the customer is welcomed to the store, or follow-up feedback requested online, initiate them.
You don’t have to over-impress your customers to stay ahead of the competition in CX. As much as innovating can keep you in the lead, providing consistent and seamless service makes you a reliable brand. At the end of the day, what every customer needs is a flawless purchasing experience.
Understand your customer needs
Although you may not be aware of it, there can be slight mismatches between what you deliver and what the customer actually expects. This requires background research and identifying the customer persona, so you get a vivid understanding of your customers’ expectations.
Finding out what your customer wants and providing proactive solutions is the key to remain in their good books. Look into their behavioral patterns to determine what factors undermine their choices. Customers remember brands that offer them personalized service and help whenever required. Rewards will come in the form of increased brand recognition that helps you outlast your competitors.
Respond to customer queries promptly
A lot of customer-brand engagement happens online via social media platforms at present. Marking your active presence by prompt responses to queries and feedback posted by customers can help you secure their trust. It shows the value you place on them and reward you with a loyal customer base.
Moreover, providing a unified experience by your presence in multiple channels improves customer’s convenience in reaching out to you. As an example, a customer can experience a problem on the website but should be able to complain about it via a social media account and get the issue sorted. This well-streamlined experience is what many businesses fail to provide, so take your chance!
Train employees to provide better customer experience
Convey the importance of centering customer experience on primary business activities to your employees. Investing in training programs to provide better customer service will make them realize the importance of CX. After all, it’s your employees who have one-to-one engagements with your clients, and their attitude, behavior, and impressions matter a lot.
Improving core soft skills like effective communication among your team members is integral to keep the customer engaged throughout their journey. Focus on employee engagement to keep your frontline teams motivated and reward them for their customer retention efforts.
All your efforts on sales, marketing, PR, and branding come down to one central concept at the end. The customer. Without the customer, the business ceases to exist. So, aligning your activities to improve CX is important. But, your efforts on improving customer experience should be strategic so that it gives you leverage to perform better in the market. You need to make sure every engagement concerning the customer provides value and satisfaction. When doing it right, it will foster growth and increase the competitiveness of your business.
Jaakko is an award-winning CX professional and entrepreneur at Feedbackly, founder and community professional at the biggest entrepreneurial digital community in Finland – Yrittäjä.io. He is a notorious keynote speaker from entrepreneurial stories to day to day human communications and customer experiences.