The surge in e-commerce after the COVID-19 lockdowns caused a flurry of activity for digital marketing businesses as they scrambled to let new and existing clients know the importance of User Experience (UX). Suddenly, A/B Testing became more than a nice-to-have, but rather something essential to stay in business.
People swarmed onto the websites of their favourite retailers, hoping they could buy their products online. Many companies that did not have e-commerce solutions implemented hurriedly jerry-rigged solutions onto their existing platforms, hoping it would satisfy the almost insatiable hunger for online presences.
Even though a hurriedly arranged system might be riddled with bugs, one could argue that the digital customer experience was still better than if there was no e-commerce solution.
But all of the above relates to user experience — a term which has traditionally referred to the experience undergone by users of digital platforms or a specific product or service.
Although user experience (UX) is a part of the overall customer experience (CX), it is not the same thing.
The difference between UX and CX
Customer experience is the customer’s overall emotional experience with your brand or company, resulting in customer loyalty. It takes into account all the touchpoints between you and that customer and is the sum of every interaction they have with your business and how that ultimately makes them feel.
If you run a butchery and sell Mrs Edwards a brisket flat-half every Monday, saying hi to her every time she walks past your butchery on Tuesdays and Wednesdays would be part of her customer experience. When she actually eats the brisket (or gives it to her grandson), that’s user experience.
Customer experience would include user experience, how the meat was wrapped, how fresh it was, if it was delivered to her door, the chit-chat she received at the meat counter as part of the deal, etc.
If you haven’t heard from Mrs Edwards for a month and sent a lad over to check on her, carrying a ribeye steak, on the house, and a “We’re Thinking of You” card in his left hand, that’s customer experience.
Mrs Edwards would be a fiercely loyal customer of yours who would never dream of taking her business elsewhere, even if the prices were cheaper. (She might even malign those cheaper prices, accusing them of low-quality beef. And, if the prices were too high, she’d call them robbers. That’s the value of customer loyalty.)
What is customer experience management (CXM)?
An effective customer experience strategy requires an in-depth overview of every aspect of your business. There are so many elements that can add or detract from the overall CX that a dedicated person is required to work solely and entirely on customer experience.
This would be the Customer Experience Manager.
Customer Experience touches how the client is invoiced, how easy it is for them to pay, how they interact with your business online, whether you put your telephone number on your packaging so they can just pick up the phone if there’s a problem, whether someone is actually there to answer the phone when they call, etc.
Your company’s marketing also affects the customer experience, even before they become a customer of yours.
Will anyone ever eat another Burger King without thinking back to how awful that campaign was? The company will never live it down.
So, Customer Experience Management touches every aspect of a business. A CX Manager position is a top-tier position and should be occupied only by people with extensive business experience.
When asked, “Where does customer experience management fit in an organisation?” the answer is “Everywhere”.
An effective customer experience strategy
If you’re desperate to get your CX improved right now and don’t have a fully-fledged CX Manager on board yet, here are some immediate steps you can take to improve the overall customer experience immediately:
1. Improve UX on all your digital touchpoints.
This might mean running A/B tests on landing pages, hiring a digital marketing agency, or simply calling up some clients and saying, “Hey, do you mind if we got some feedback about your recent purchase?”
2. Smile, and the world smiles with you.
If there’s one thing the world needs right now, it’s a bit more friendliness. Navy Seal-style scuffles at the grocery store for the last roll of toilet paper have left many scarred for life — okay, maybe not scarred, but at least disappointed in the general inhumanity of not letting someone get one bloody bogroll!
Let’s be friendlier. It is our prediction that those companies who take a calm, quiet, friendly approach to their interactions with the public after the lockdowns, will be the ones who fare best as a result of a superior customer experience.
3. Learn about accessibility
Is the text on your invoices large enough for people with sight impairment? Do you have wheelchair access (which could also double up as stroller access for those with a baby)? Do you have subtitles on any digital ads showing at your premises? These and other points can create a negative customer experience for many of your customers if not handled properly.
Learn about accessibility and make sure it is integrated into every aspect of your business.
The simplest solution
The easiest way to implement a superb customer management experience is to care about your customers and their needs genuinely. This goes beyond the trite aphorism that “the customer is always right”.
It cuts deeper, in that you genuinely seek to understand the customer’s upsets and problems. Doing so, you might discover that they were indeed right — at least from their perspective on things. As a CX Manager, this would prompt you to take sincere action to repair whatever failing caused that customer to have a poor experience with your business.
By genuinely caring about your customers, you can take the necessary actions to improve their emotional response to your brand and thereby build an unshakable sense of customer loyalty in them.
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.