What is customer experience?
Customer Experience (CX) is the practice of monitoring and responding to the experience or interactions a customer has with a company or brand. Most commonly, it refers to the measurement and understanding of the experience customers have when purchasing a product and interacting with support or services.
What is included in the customer experience?
Every interaction that a customer or potential customer has with your company or brand falls under the umbrella of customer experience.
Here are a few examples:
- Website visits, where customers are researching the product
- Advertisements that can attract customers
- Mobile app download and usage
- Your company social media posts
- Support and customer service
Here is a useful breakdown of common components of the customer experience, both internally and externally:
This refers to internal-facing components around how your organization perceives and acts upon customer experience within your organization. Who manages the CX program, how it's being managed and measured, and how it's used are all crucial to the program's effectiveness and overall success.
These are the offerings that customers are ultimately purchasing. Understanding how customers perceive the products and solutions you're offering is a critical goal within CX.
These are support material and product documentation that customers can use to learn or aid themselves with the product.
Touchpoints are the ways or channels where customers will directly interact with you, such as chat or email.
This refers to the technology or software your company uses to deliver content or interact with customers at different touchpoints. These channels throughout the customer journey have a lasting impact on the customer experience.
Benefits of customer experience
One of the biggest benefits of customer experience is the profound influence it has on a company's revenue through retention and new business. According to Zendesk's 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report, 50% of customers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience. That percentage increases to 80% if they've had more than one bad experience.
Other common benefits companies see from investing in customer experience are:
- Increased referrals or new business
- Higher customer lifetime value (CLV)
- Reduced churn/return rate
- Higher customer retention
When does customer experience happen?
Customer experience extends all the way from the initial point of interest, like interacting with the brand through ads or social media, to becoming a customer and actually using a product. From the perspective of product development, customer experience management typically happens post-launch or release, as it includes live marketing and support.
How to measure customer experience
Measuring (and improving) customer experience starts with metrics. Here are a few key metrics commonly used to measure customer experience.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): The most common metric for measuring part of the customer experience is the CSAT score. This extends all the way from measuring customer service into product reviews and scores that shoppers give a product or service.
- Brand reputation and advocacy: Your brand's reputation can be measured using the likelihood that customers will endorse or recommend your product to friends, family members, or colleagues. You can also monitor measurements like Net Promoter Score, sentiment on social media, and engagement from customers on social media or live events.
- Customer loyalty: Loyalty metrics are used to understand the likelihood that customers will stay customers. Things like retention and churn rate, average order or basket size, and frequency of purchase are examples of loyalty-focused metrics within customer experience.
- Quality: This relates to the perceived quality of a product or service. Support calls, product returns, and ticket rates all highlight the connections underlying satisfaction, loyalty, and reputation. A simple example of this: how do buggy features or counter-intuitive UI impact the likelihood that a customer will advocate for a product? The most reliable way to Identify and improve on quality-focused metrics is by delta testing products early and often.
- Employee engagement: In recent years, there's been a huge push for understanding "employee experience," a category of customer experience which examines the relationship between employee and products. Since employees are responsible for building, messaging, marketing, selling, and supporting products throughout the customer journey, ensuring they are satisfied, engaged, and educated on the brand and product is essential. See how dogfooding or creating a customer zero program can create a customer-centric culture in your company.
Customer experience vs. user experience
Customer experience and user experience (UX) have a lot in common: they both focus on users and interactions points with a company.
That said, user experience tends to be isolated to the earlier stages of concept and design, which translate to later interactions post-launch of a product if new designs or updates are being released.
Customer experience, by contrast, focuses more on the combination of product, service, and brand experiences. This includes the customer service, sales, and marketing experiences. To summarize, the primary difference could be the maturity and location of the programs within your company.
Customer experience vs. product experience
Product experience usually refers to the experience a customer has within the product, application, or during delivery of the service. Its common attributes include: onboarding, tutorials, application usage, and any direct interaction with the product.
While customer experience can include these elements depending on your company's structures and adoption, it's usually isolated to the marketing, sales, and support experiences that surround the product.
Customer experience vs. delta testing
Delta testing focuses on validating that a product experience will both satisfy users and positively impact the success of a product before launch and through each iterative release. It solicits feedback directly from a product's target market to identify issues, ideas, and praise to help product, UX, marketing, and sales teams deliver a great product.
Unlike product experience, delta testing happens pre-release — meaning target market validation occurs before release to the general public. Delta complements customer experience, with deliverables that can help monitor and collect feedback on other aspects of the product like marketing, sales, and support.
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