A recent report from eMarketer, “Customer Experience 2021,” details the importance of prioritizing customer experience (CX) and how consumers are more likely to value a brand that values them and offers a seamless positive experience throughout the purchasing funnel. “Companies have increasingly come to realize that superior CX leads to not only a competitive advantage, but better financial performance as well,” found eMarketer.
What Is CX?
CX, or customer experience, is literally the experience delivered to customers before, during and after purchase. According to Sarah Hodkinson, head of direct acquisition at NortonLifeLock, who spoke with eMarketer about the value of CX, “It’s [CX is] the perception that customers have of your brand after interacting with your business. Were they able to get what they wanted from your business? What did they think of the experience? How did it make them feel?” Impressions of CX change over time. And, even one bad interaction can alter the CX feeling, making it essential to have a company-wide CX strategy that touches every part of the consumer journey. Without a holistic CX strategy, the CX may feel inconsistent and not meet ongoing customer expectations.
CX is inclusive of every consumer and customer touchpoint before, during and after purchase. The rise of ecommerce and pandemic-related consumer behavior changes over the last year shone a light on brands that get CX right by staying agile and listening to their customers. Hodkinson of NortonLifeLock also noted, “Great customer experience goes above and beyond, surprising and delighting customers, making the interactions memorable.” During the pandemic, Zappos provided an example of going above and beyond by launching a “Customer Service for Anything” initiative. Customers could call for the usual reasons, and they could call just to chat. At a time when many people were feeling lonely, the effort by Zappos was thoughtful, surprising and made customers feel good.
Why Is CX So Important For Brands?
CX determines how consumers feel about brands. A strong CX typically results in positive feelings, while a disappointing CX can result in negative brand equity.
Emarketer notes that oftentimes brands are too focused on amplifying a certain channel, instead of thinking about the customer experience. Likewise, sometimes brands have trouble “unifying all their data or restructuring their company to deliver a better experience to end users.” When this inability to execute quality CX happens, brands are missing out on the chance to build stronger reputations with existing and potential shoppers. Every missed positive engagement opportunity, because a brand didn’t or couldn’t prioritize CX, can potentially damage the brand. Notable experiences, whether good or bad, are often shared via word of mouth and reviews, creating a ripple effect that helps or harms brand growth. “A May 2020 study by Qualtrics XM Institute revealed that, across a number of industries, the better a company’s CX, the higher the likelihood that U.S. consumers will purchase more from the company,” reported Jeremy Goldman for eMarketer.
What Can Brands Do To Create Quality CX?
To create quality CX, brands need to understand their audiences. Knowing what consumers want, when, how, where and why consumers want to engage with brands is key to building a CX that supports consumer desires. Of course, brands also need to remember that audiences are not monolithic. Offering a variety of options is almost always going to result in a higher quality CX because it allows customers to create their journeys.
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