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Mar 01, 2016

The Three E’s of the Customer Experience: Part 1

the easy button illustrates the concept of ease from forrester customer experience blog

It’s a fact: companies that provide exceptional customer service perform better than the rest. Forrester confirmed this fact in a recent report when they looked at the portfolio performance of companies who lead the market in terms of customer experience (CX). These companies outperform the S&P 500 Index by 26 percent, and they outperform companies lagging behind in CX by a whopping 80 percent.

Why such dramatic differences in performance? Put simply, great customer experiences drive revenue growth. Loyal, satisfied customers are more likely to purchase additional products and services, less likely to defect to a competitor, and more likely to advocate for the brand.

The secret to providing an excellent customer experience lies in the three E’s: ease, effectiveness, and emotion. This three-part series will explore each one, identifying key strategies and trends along the way.

The importance of “ease”

The first of the three E’s is “ease.” Exceptional service interactions have to be easy for the customer. In fact, a Forrester survey found that more than half of US adults will abandon their online shopping cart if they are unable to have their questions answered quickly. Today’s customers expect quick, easy, seamless service, and if they don’t receive it, they do not hesitate to let the world know -- 9 out of 10 dissatisfied customers will tell a friend or family member about their negative experience and/or share it online through social media, review sites, or blogs.

Companies would be wise to invest in making service interactions as easy as possible. Here are two strategies for doing just that:

1. Implement more advanced customer self-service

Web self-service has become consumers’ preferred channel for initial service interactions. When done well, self-service improves customer satisfaction by providing the right resolutions quickly and effectively, while reducing the amount of costly escalations to live agents. In fact, web self-service has been shown to reduce inbound emails to customer service by up to 80 percent.

Recognizing the potential of self-service to increase satisfaction and reduce costs, companies are shoring up their self-service experiences in order to deliver on high customer expectations. Many are moving beyond basic FAQ pages to more sophisticated knowledge management software. Companies are taking self-service even further by using solutions that replicate a live-agent experience as much as possible, using natural language processing and conversational technology to provide accurate and tailored responses.

2. Integrate different channels for seamless interactions

The last several years have seen a proliferation in customer contact channels. Although multiple channels (call center, social media, mobile app, website, etc.) may have different teams and management structures, customers often perceive a company as a monolith -- one entity with which they are communicating in hopes of solving their problem. That is why they often become frustrated when they must explain their issue over and over again to different systems and different people.

Companies on the leading edge of CX are providing smooth transitions between communication channels that don’t require customers to repeat themselves. By providing transcripts of previous interactions and background information on the customer, more advanced customer experience platforms enable a live agent to pick up wherever the previous interaction left off. This gives the customer a consistent experience regardless of the channel.

Organizations are feeling the pressure to provide better customer experiences. By using advanced web self-service tools and by seamlessly transitioning between communication channels, companies can deliver on customer expectations for easy interactions. Find out more about these and other customer service trends in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series and in Forrester’s 2016 Trends report.

Sources:
Forrester’s “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015.”
Forrester’s “Trends 2016: The Future Of Customer Service.”
Forrester’s “North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey 2, 2015.”

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