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Mar 15, 2016

The Three E’s of the Customer Experience: Part 3

person using smartphone to experience customer engagement

For today’s brands, differentiating themselves through the customer experience (CX) is no longer optional – it is a fundamental requirement for success. Companies that fail to prioritize excellent customer service are learning this the hard way, according to a recent Forrester report. The report found that companies that lag behind in CX are being outperformed by brands that excel at customer-centricity by an incredible 80 percent.

How do brands achieve excellence in CX? The secret is the three E’s of customer engagement: ease, effectiveness, and emotion. This three-part article series covers all three in turn, detailing trends in ease and effectiveness in Parts 1 and 2, and focusing now on the last but not least of the three E’s: emotion.

Creating emotional connections with customers

A bad experience with a company negatively impacts the customer’s perception of the brand, and disproportionately so. For instance, when a customer is charged a $20 fee, they feel two to five times worse than if they received a $20 reward. Mistakes and issues are inevitable, but forging emotional bonds with customers helps to mitigate the damage and prevent making a bad situation worse. In fact, great customer service can transform a negative experience into a positive one, turning a critic into an advocate. Here are three ways to improve emotional connections with customers.

1. Engage customers proactively

In Part 2 of this series, we discussed the importance of proactively preempting customer issues. This ability comes from a deep understanding of the entire customer journey, from the moment they realize they have a need for your product to their experience with post-purchase service, and every touch point in between.

When brands understand the customer journey, they can serve up the right content at the right time to drive faster conversion, higher revenue, and increased satisfaction. By proactively engaging visitors with content relevant to their stage in the customer journey, Sears has reported a 20 percent increase in revenue and a customer satisfaction score of 90 percent. Many companies are implementing smart customer relationship management (CRM) software that tracks the customer journey and facilitates proactive, personalized engagement.

2. Improve the customer experience using new forms of feedback

Customer feedback gathered via surveys only tells part of the story, yet only a small number of companies are currently using anything beyond surveys to measure success and gather customer insights. In order to fully comprehend the customer journey, which takes place over a multitude of channels, a more holistic approach is needed.

A more comprehensive feedback-gathering method would include:

  • Sentiment analysis to understand how customers are feeling about the product(s) and the brand
  • Customer journey analytics to map typical journey paths and uncover opportunities to preempt issues and proactively answer questions
  • Analysis of the differences in customer segments to further personalize interactions’

Monitoring and measuring real-world customer interactions provides much deeper insight than a survey could ever supply.

3. Empower service agents to improve one-on-one interactions

With simple questions increasingly being answered by web self-service tools, service agents are left to deal with the more advanced customer issues. An agent may use an array of disconnected tools to do his or her job, further complicating their interactions and preventing them from focusing their full energy on providing excellent customer service.

Recognition of this situation has given rise to a new trend: simple-to-use yet sophisticated CRM software that guides agents through tasks step-by-step and delivers the relevant information they need right when they need it. Not only does modern, smart customer engagement software increase agent productivity, it empowers them to devote more time, attention, and energy to human interactions. In turn, this improves the lifetime value of customers and allows agents to be more empowered, engaged, and satisfied with their work.

Differentiating your brand through great customer experiences has never been more critical. Developing deeper emotional connections with customers impacts their loyalty and lifetime value. These connections can be forged through empowered agents, proactive engagement, better understanding of the customer journey, and smarter CRM software.

Learn more about how to achieve best-in-class customer engagement in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, and by reading Forrester’s comprehensive report on 2016 trends in customer service.

 

Sources:

Forrester’s “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015.”
Forrester’s “Understanding The Impact Of Emotion on Customer Experience.”
Forrester’s “Trends 2016: The Future Of Customer Service.”
Forrester’s “Market Overview: Chat Solutions For Customer Service.”

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