Ignore customer experience at your peril
Success in business today is dictated not so much by products or price, but rather by the customer experience companies are able to offer. While this is not the only factor in business success, it is rapidly becoming the most important consideration when customers decide which company they want to do business with.
The way organisations interact with their customers has evolved over time. Today, the customer is more demanding than ever, taking back control of the relationship they have with companies. Consumer technologies have raised the bar on what people expect from business interactions, driving companies to embrace an always-on, omni-channel approach to customer experience.
“When clients don’t get what they want, they are not afraid to take their business elsewhere,” explains Saartjie Wait, Marketing and Digital Experience Director, Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa. “The dynamic, digital consumer wants instant access to everything, a by-product of the fact that we have digitised and consumerised everything. This phenomenon is not unique to consumer brands, it extends through all business relationships, and is having an impact on client relationships in the business-to-business space.”
Happy customers spend more
The impact of this shift is not simply one of appeasing customers in order to protect revenues. Research by Trustpilot highlights that a delighted customer contributes 2.6 times as much revenue as a somewhat satisfied customer, and 14 times as much revenue as a somewhat dissatisfied customer. “Based on the maths alone, it makes good business sense to look after your customer,” Wait says.
Embracing a customer experience-centric approach is not something that can be achieved by simply throwing technology at the problem. People are integral to exceptional customer experiences and bringing employees along on the journey requires a cultural shift in most organisations.
“In the past, distributors have agonised over the product, with little regard to the experience of the customer. Business is, after all, a numbers game. By putting the customer at the forefront of the process, you don’t just have to change the way people think, but also combine processes and activities to match this new way of doing business,” comments Wait.
Always be willing to change
She adds that research shows 95% of people who have had a bad experience with a company are willing to give the company another chance, but only if their problems have been dealt with correctly.
“Companies need to continually improve their services and offerings, aligning these to customer feedback and buying patterns. This is what keeps them coming back.”
While technology is not the sole answer to the customer experience puzzle, it is a critical component. In order to deliver on and meet the expectations of clients, companies need to embrace a digital-first approach.
Wait explains that doing this was a vital part of transforming Westcon-Comstor’s relationship with its clients. “We know our customers are always connected, their businesses are app-native and technology savvy. We need to leverage this in the way we serve, communicate and deliver products and services to our partners.
“In order to make this happen, we embraced a number of tools, including social selling and self-help. Adopting an omni-channel approach means our customers can reach us however they feel comfortable. It’s essential to realise that you can’t eliminate the human touch. Clients don’t want 100% of their interactions on digital channels; they want the human element weaved in, giving them access to technically competent people who can offer trusted counsel and technical insights,” she says.
Agility is key
As the market continues to evolve, the way companies present themselves will change too. Channels that are vital today may be obsolete in a few years and organisations need to be agile enough to adapt to this.
Ultimately, creating positive customer experiences is all about meeting a client’s expectations. This can’t be achieved unless what you deliver is on point, of good quality, and weaves in service and experience while keeping the customer at the centre of what you do.
“Customer experience is not just a matter of a business shift; it is a matter of survival. Competition is rife, economies are shrinking, customers are more discerning than ever. If we don’t put the customer first by understanding exactly what they require and serve them through the channel of their choice, we will find ourselves out of business,” ends Wait.