by Granville Triumph
Providing an exceptional customer experience is a promise made by nearly all organizations but delivered by precious few. This is because most organizations have only identified what they think the ideal customer experience is, not what the customer expects it to be. It’s impossible to deliver an exceptional customer experience if you fail to meet the customer’s expectations.
The customer experience has a very literal definition – a customer’s perceived experience with an organization, from the time the customer is introduced to the company and its product to the customer’s actual experience using the product. The customer experience includes online, mobile, phone or face-to-face interactions and encounters with the company along the way, from casual web research to one-on-one customer service.
More than a series of events and perceptions, a successfully customer experience requires a multifaceted discipline that involves research, strategy and metrics in order to build trust, loyalty and revenue.
The Forrester Research approach to delivering a unique and exceptional customer experience is built upon a foundation of six disciplines:
- A customer experience strategy – not an overall brand strategy – is the plan that shapes the experience and dictates how the experience is delivered and managed.
- Understanding the customer – accurately assessing wants, needs, expectations and what factors into their perceptions – is an absolute must if you expect to deliver even an average customer experience.
- The customer experience should emanate from a formal design that is used to separate the good ideas from the bad and focus on processes and solutions that are most relevant to the customer.
- Measurement is critical to evaluating, fine-tuning and improving the customer experience and making it consistently excellent.
- The customer experience is proactively managed by establishing governance that creates accountability and provides for quality control throughout the customer’s journey.
- A genuine commitment to meeting the customer’s needs must be part of the company culture and shine through at every level of the organization.
When an organization makes a statement about itself, it’s a claim. When a customer makes a statement about an organization, it’s a fact. The right customer experience can validate claims made in sales presentations and marketing materials. It establishes value in the eyes of potential customers, as well as the employees who are on the front lines establishing relationships with customers and delivering the best possible experience.
While the customer experience discipline involves a structured, scientific formula, it’s important to realize that you can always get better. The moment you become satisfied is the moment you create an opening for competitors to gain ground. When you master and improve upon the customer service discipline and make it part of your company DNA, you’ll make more money, save more money and differentiate your organization from the competition.