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Customer experience (CX) is what happens between you and your customers.

It starts with awareness and only ends when your relationship has run its course (some people call this offboarding).

You could say it is the sum of the interactions a customer has with your organisation, but that is a lot of ‘hard’ words when some simple ones will do.

customer / business interactions

A compelling customer experience motivates your customers to return to you and tell their family and friends how great you are.

If you understand the customer experience you deliver, you can:

  • Learn how to improve, so you don’t cause the dissatisfaction again
  • Better know your customers. Then you can build new features and functions to meet their needs.
  • Move the customer to the next step in the buyer’s cycle. But – be careful –  masquerading as a helpful hand when all you want to do is sell has the opposite effect.

How to understand your customer experience

Have you ever been distracted when you met someone?

What could you say about the person afterwards? Did you know if they were excited or angry? Could you introduce them to another person?

That mind blank moment is the reality of your relationship with your customers. When growth, suppliers, bookkeeping, IT, staff, regulations, paying bills, developing a new product or service distract you, you cannot listen to your customers. Regardless of the strength of your relationship, unless you specifically ask ‘how are we doing’ you are unlikely to know the answer.

The businesses with the best customer experience measure the success of their customer experience.

Customer experience (CX) measures

Customer satisfaction
– answers the question ‘how satisfied are you’.
Net promoter score aka NPS
– this popular measure asks ‘how likely are you to recommend’ this business product or service. Research has shown a correlation between overall NPS (the likelihood of all customers recommending a business) and business success measure such as growth and margins.
Customer Effort Score
– while less commonly used this measure, asking ‘how easy did you find your interaction’, is a good predictor of churn.
Business performance metrics
– many metrics give an indication of your customer experience, some directly e.g. complaints, returns, reviews and some indirectly e.g. growth, cost of sales. If you can align your CX and business metrics you can build a business case for change.

You can use each of these measures at the end of a transaction, or relationship, and to analyse the customer journey. So long as you act on what you learn.

Customer satisfaction vs customer experience (CX)

Customer satisfaction reflects how well you meet the needs of your customer in their eyes.

User experience vs customer experience (CX)

User experience (UX) is vital to an overall customer experience, if any part of that experience takes place using technology. Whether it is finding a ride through an app or setting an oven timer, UX has the potential to make or break your CX. Unfortunately, UX is sometimes used to drive customers through a sales funnel and is more about sales goals than satisfaction.

Customer service vs customer experience (CX)

Customer service is how we manage something less than perfect in the customer experience. It could be answering a question your website doesn’t cover, or addressing an issue with your product or service. Organisations intent on delivering a compelling customer experience invite you to ask for support. They do this because most customers say nothing and move on when dissatisfied.

I have heard people say that customer service is transactional excellence, whereas customer experience is relationship excellence. While you need good relationship skills to excel at transactions and a relationship alone can only take you so far, I think this is a useful differentiator.

Here's how some similar sound activities relate to customer experience

Customer success vs customer experience (CX)

Customer success often sits with sales, preventing churn and maximising revenue. To be honest, done well customer success and customer experience are very similar.

Digital experience vs customer experience (CX)

Consumers and a growing number of B2B buyers want to choose how to interact with you. So, if you don’t have a phone line, email address and chat facility you could lose customers. Digital experience is about the devices and apps you use to serve your customers and it goes a step further when we think about omni-channel – a customer using several digital tools for the same conversation and expecting a seamless experience.

Voice of the Customer (VOC) vs customer experience (CX)

For me VOC is the key to delivering a compelling customer experience. Without feedback no-one can truly know what their customers are thinking and, more importantly, feeling. VOC comes in all shapes and sizes. You might survey your customers, they could be telling you what they think on social media and via a call centre, you might want to run a panel to get specific feedback. And then you take action. Done well, VOC helps breakdown organisational silos and become an invaluable customer experience tool.

Reputation management vs customer experience (CX)

If you have suffered from fake reviews or something went wrong and you have fixed it, then reputation management can be invaluable. However, if you are intent on using reputation management to give an overly positive impression of your customer experience, then you are on a hiding to nothing. Reputation management is reactive and smooths the implications of a miserable experience. But it does nothing to improve the way you interact with your customers. When overused it can be seen as a cynical method of manipulating the truth. Building a compelling customer experience relies on more than reputation management.

More about customer experience (CX)

13 tips for a compelling customer experience (CX)

Can a handful of essential activities help you deliver compelling customer experiences (cx)? We believe so, see our list of best practices.

What is customer experience (CX)?

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