Customer experience is going through rapid change. At the Forrester East Coast Customer Experience Forum in New York, the hot topic—and even the title of the conference—was “Why Good Enough Is Not Good Enough.” We’ve entered a new age of competitiveness that raises the bar significantly and forces brands to rethink the ways to know the customer better, and to trigger their passions where possible. Where it was once all about stocking the right products and having well-trained sales and customer service associates, today’s customer experience is defined by, as Forrester puts it, “…your people, processes, and technologies.”
Outperforming the Market
Is it worth the cost of making your customer’s experience that much better than with your competitors? A 2013 study by Forrester showed that customer experience leaders, over a six-year period, outperformed the broader market with returns that were three times higher than the average S&P 500 company. Likewise, customer experience laggards underperformed against the same S&P average with returns of -33.9 percent. Those are compelling numbers and reflect the benefits that great customer experience management confers on the brand: higher retention rates, lower acquisition costs, and greater customer lifetime value. A focus on customer experience is a gift to the customers for sure, but also clearly a gift back to the giver.
What Can I Do About It?
These numbers are great, but what can you as a brand do to improve your customer’s experience? For starters, you can make sure you’re collecting data about your customers that helps connect you not only to their preferences, but to their passions as well. The North Face has done a remarkable job at capturing what its customers care about—not just how they shop. Secondly, you can take steps to make your brand trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential, aligning with Forrester’s Tracy Stokes’ acronym, T.R.U.E. These are the four concepts that create a brand compass for customer experience. Lastly, you can make sure you’ve created the technology environment to manage the ever-increasing amount of data that great customer experience requires. People can be trained and processes determined, but having the right foundation of technology is a key differentiator. With it, you can discover your customers’ patterns and propensities, “see” them in the moment, and respond in ways most likely to result in a positive outcome for both the customer and the brand.