“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The late Maya Angelou may have been talking about life in general, but this quote can certainly be applied to the customer experience businesses provide. Customer experience is typically defined as the overall way an interaction with a business made a customer feel. And a customer’s experience has exceeded products and sales as the key differentiator between companies.
A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey of 680 companies found that while 73% of business leaders conceded that customer experience is crucial to their company’s success, only 15% of those leaders said their customer experience strategy was truly effective. And 53% found that improving customer experience is somewhat effective.
Why is it so challenging for companies to make their customer experience goals a reality? Here are some common stumbling blocks to achieving that goal, along with ways to overcome those obstacles.
Lack of Leadership and Strategy
It is up to a company’s leaders to prioritize the customer experience when making strategic business decisions. To do so, they must demonstrate the importance of the customer experience to all employees, not just the customer service representatives. But they must also develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that they are consistently providing a positive customer experience.
However, the HBR survey reveals that 80% of companies believe it’s crucial for leaders to invest in a clear customer experience strategy. But only 50% claim their company has delivered on this requirement.
Without clear guidelines on how to achieve customer experience goals, getting employees on board can be difficult. Business leaders must be fully committed to creating and upholding a customer experience strategy for all employees to follow. When employees see how even those in the highest positions care about the customer experience, it will become important to them as well.
Lack of a Full Company Alignment
One huge mistake companies make often is to believe only one or two departments need to be concerned about the customer experience. But customer experience affects all aspects of a business, from sales and marketing to product development and support. Therefore, all employees should be concerned with the experience they’re providing at each step of the customer journey.
This also means breaking down the silos that can often impede customer experience progress. Too often, different factions of a company work independently from each other, creating a disconnected environment. Each department must determine how their actions impact the customer. But it doesn’t stop there. All departments must work together to meet customer expectations. This requires a great deal of commitment from every employee, but the results are well worth it.
Failure to Listen to What Customers Really Want
The challenge for most businesses in a highly competitive market is finding ways to stand out from the competition. Yet many companies rely too heavily on marketing trends rather than focusing on their customers’ preferences. Without knowing what their customers really want, how can they create effective marketing strategies that resonate with their target audience?
Failure to focus on the customers’ needs often makes them feel alienated, so consumers turn to companies whose messages appeal to what they truly want. Businesses that are successful at providing the best customer experience do so in two ways.
- Determining what customer’s want through various tools and consumer data
- Understanding that customers needs and expectations are constantly evolving and adjust accordingly
The truth is that while most companies say the customer experience is part of their mission, they still treat it like an afterthought. Instead, they focus more on what they sell and how to sell it, rather than how they are making the customer feel. As a result, these businesses are lagging behind their competition.
Next week, we’ll cover some ways to use consumer data to improve the customer experience.