Customer experience measuring and management is the hot topic in service business. And rightfully so. Investing in customer experience has a major effect in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and customer advocacy. And these obviously have significant business benefits. Nevertheless, the significance of customer experience is continuously undervalued and companies (or public service providers) don’t seem to understand that customer experience isn’t a passing trend or unnecessary nonsense.
The significance of customer experience isn’t in fact decreasing, although the commotion around the topic might cease after the novelty has worn off. There are at least 3 significant reasons for this: globalization, social media and changed customer expectations
1. Globalization and increased competition
Distances have never before been as short, especially on an international scale. Transport links have become cheaper and faster, which has significantly lowered the threshold for international business. Ordering a product or service from another side of the world is easy, inexpensive and fast. The opening of international markets has meant tendered prices, but also tendered service, in particular. This means that the role of physical stores has changed and is still changing.
Consumers don’t have to enter a store to get the product they want, so stores have to focus on creating experiences, thereby engaging their customers and their loyalty. Customers have to be listened to with sensitivity and offered what they want. Additionally, new innovative means have to be discovered to offer the customers the kind of experiences Alibaba and Amazon cannot.
2. Social media
Negative news and experiences used to spread faster and further than the positive ones even before internet, but especially with social media, bad experiences spread like wildfire, ever faster and further. Nowadays, experiences shared in the social media end up in newspapers and companies are doing what they can to stop these posts quickly by contacting the publisher and correcting the situation. Various different evaluation services, like TripAdvisor, have been created for consumers to offer a free platform for sharing experiences. TripAdvisor alone, has hundreds of millions of reviews of restaurants, stores, hotels, services, tour operators, etc.
Pier-reviews have become a part of consumer’s everyday purchasing behaviour. Almost two consumers out of three search the internet for information and pier-reviews about the products and services they’re about to purchase and even 90% of people trust the recommendations of their friends. (Source: HubSpot) Therefore, it is simply necessary to start paying attention to customer experience if you want your customers to return and bring new customers with them.
3. Changed customer expectations
The expectations consumers have towards service have changed. Consumers expect to be greeted and attended with a friendly and quick manner, which, especially in Finland, isn’t self-evident. Particularly younger generations demand good service and their wishes to be regarded. Bad experiences are shared on social media and although throughout history there have been boycotts and consumer movements, social media gives them far greater visibility, reach and effectiveness. Once you’ve gotten used to receiving good, customer centric service, there’s no going back.
Customer is always right, so they need to be listened to and offered what they want. By measuring customer experience, you can find out how to serve your customers better and how to improve your service so that not only the current customers are satisfied and loyal but also that you attract more new customers. One of the most effective marketing tactics is to make your customers so satisfied that they share their positive experiences to their friends and to offer them tools to share their experiences online (e.g. Google and TripAdvisor offer the tools necessary along with significant visibility).
All these three reasons – globalization, social media and changed customer expectations – require permanent changes to service culture. The significance of customer experience will only grow in the future, so the change in service culture should be embraced. The ones to succeed are those that most efficiently use their customer feedback in their service development and invent innovative ways to serve their customers better and more intuitively.