Firms today are in a race to provide clients with an unparalleled experience. Those that deliver can differentiate themselves from the competition and charge a premium for services. Firms that fall learn a costly lesson.
According to PWC, 73% of consumers rate the customer experience as a crucial factor in the purchasing decision. A further 42% of consumers will pay more for products or services that deliver an outstanding experience.
Microsoft research found that 90% of clients view the company’s service delivery as the deciding factor in determining loyalty. A further 58% of customers won’t think twice about severing ties with firms that don’t deliver.
To answer that question, we spoke to Daria Leshchenko, CEO of SupportYourApp and Co-Founder of Label Your Data. Her response was a fascinating insight into why firms should shift their focus from product-driven to experience-driven models.
Why Customer Experience is Important
Maintaining a competitive edge through product differentiation is almost impossible today. An innovative offering may hold the public enthralled for a time, but the novelty value is limited.
Within six months of a successful product or service launch, competitors will have launched their versions. While they’ll need to make proprietary changes, they’re able to sail close to the wind here. They’ll have the additional benefit of learning from mistakes the innovator made and the opportunity to create a better product or service.
If they can’t match the quality, they’ll compete on price or service delivery. For our purposes, how competitors choose to respond is an unimportant detail. What is crucial here is that it starts to explain why customer experience is important and why it outshines innovation.
Customer Experience is a Dynamic Journey
We tend to think of the sales journey as a linear process. The client:
- Identifies a need
- Researches how to meet that need
- Narrows down their options
- Makes the buying decision
At the most basic level, this is correct. If we examine the typical buying journey, however, we find that it’s a microcosm of separate events. These events don’t always follow the linear progression that we’ve come to expect.
For example, we understand that a client requires several touchpoints to arrive at a buying decision. Each point of contact reassures the consumer that they’re dealing with a trustworthy brand.
An inconsistent message at any stage may halt their progress or cause them to start over. Clients may vacillate between the options available to them frequently, even once they’re relatively sure of their decision.
A consumer may understand intellectually that a particular product or service is the correct answer for their needs. Emotionally, however, they may require further reassurance. They may therefore revisit any previous steps in the process.
The same applies to repurchasing goods or renewing services. The customer journey seldom moves in a straight line from point A to point B. Every element of the process forms part of the customer experience, making CX highly dynamic.
Correctly managing it entails a complex mix of branding, service delivery, and experiential analyses along the way.
Why Customer Experience is Important in Brand-Building
If we look back thirty or forty years, customer service was very different. Clients communicated with brands by calling the helpline, visiting the business, or writing a letter. A disgruntled customer might complain to people in their immediate circle. When the firm let them down badly, they might even take the matter to the press.
There was a limit to the damage done. The company’s transgression had to be significant for the issue to make it into a news event.
Today, things have changed significantly. Social media means almost instantaneous access to global news. Clients today are quick to voice their dissatisfaction across this medium and all it takes is one complaint to go viral for a company to come under fire.
Firms then have to perform damage control and hope that the storm blows over quickly. Unfortunately, while public attention is fleeting, the incident may live on in infamy online. There it will inform the decisions of new clients and become another point in the buying journey.
The upside of social media is that clients are quick to praise firms that deliver. Companies reduce the impact of such blemishes by providing an outstanding customer experience. The enduring impression they create will last far longer than the initial enchantment with a novel new product.
The customer experience, therefore, forms an integral part of brand-building.
Brands today have little in the way of real proprietary advantage. Competitors will always try to emulate or improve upon a successful idea. Firms that hope to differentiate themselves must focus on the overall customer experience instead of relying on novelty value.
Bio of Daria Leschenko
Daria Leshchenko is the CEO and co-founder of Support as a Service company, SupportYourApp. The firm provides a full package of customer support with a focus on the IT industry.
Daria is also the co-founder of Label Your Data, the data annotation firm set to revolutionize the industry.
Daria’s energy and enthusiasm led to SupportYourApp becoming one of the TOP-3 customer support companies in Europe, with operations extending to 28 countries. At the helm, since she was 21, Daria leads her 650-strong professional team by example.
Daria is in the Top 30 under 30, according to KyivPost and in the TOP-20 IT entrepreneurs in Ukraine (Ukraine Innovation Awards).
She is also a mentor on Google Hackathon and Startup Weekend Ladies, represents Ukraine in the CUTIS Canadian-Ukrainian trade and investment support project, and participates in the ITC SheTrades initiative.