At a time when customers are becoming choosier and demanding better service, companies large and small need to consider how well they are satisfying clients’ expectations. If you’re not meeting the customer’s need for an excellent end-to-end experience – from selection and ordering to product quality and after-sale service – then you’re practically inviting your customer to cross the street and buy from someone else.

The key is to create an ideal process for your customers’ experience – and then measure customer satisfaction to make certain you’re delivering.

“Customer experience and loyalty are important drivers of business growth,” notes consultant Janet Leblanc, of Ottawa-based Janet Leblanc & Associates, in a recent article. “Companies who have mastered the ability to manage the experience are capitalizing on a powerful marketing tool—one that is able to capture price premiums and points of differentiation that are hard to copy.” Let the competition advertise what they will in their ads and brochures – customers know that what they experience face-to-face or in the transaction process represents the ultimate expression of a company’s commitment to service.

Leblanc believes there’s a strong link between customer experience and business success. According to research from the Peppers & Rogers Group, a U.S. consultancy specializing in customer-oriented strategies, 81% of companies that have strong capabilities for delivering customer-experience excellence report that they “outperform the competition.”

Companies that are leaders in customer-experience management also report that their customers were 15% more likely to buy more products from them, 16% less willing to switch to a competitor, and 17% more likely to recommend the company’s services.

But implementing a true customer-experience management program involves a lot of work and thought. “You need to manage all aspects of the experience, every interaction, at every touch point,” writes Leblanc. “The experience must differentiate your company to create an emotional connection with the customer so they feel passionate about using your product or service.”

Leblanc recommends measuring these key areas to ensure your company offers the best customer experience: the lifetime value of a customer; the cost of acquiring a new customer; your annual customer-retention rate; new-customer conversion rates; your company’s share of the customer’s wallet; and the true costs associated with resolving a customer problem.

The key to success is to convert clients into partners in helping you analyze and improve the customer experience. Leblanc advises companies to measure the customer experience through relationship and transactional surveys “to collect a clear articulation of what customers value most, to understand the strength of the relationship customers have with your company, and to identify the most powerful experience opportunities for improvement at every interaction point.”

You also have to secure internal buy-in. Manage employee performance, says Leblanc, “to ensure action plans are linked to employee, operational, and financial measures in order to track, reward, and promote measurable improvements in customer experience management performance.”

The payoff from all this hard work? Clear objectives, aligned staff and happier, more loyal customers. This should be a project that pays for itself.

 

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