Customer Experience 101

Before diving into a program or initiative, it’s always good for a company to have a common definition to work toward. This is especially true when speaking of customer experience. Customer experience is a very hot topic these days in companies across many industries – from packaged consumer goods to B2B software. It can mean different things to different organizations, but it’s important for any given organization to start with the same end goal in mind.

In their white paper on customer experience management, software company SAS Institute defines customer experience as “…your customers’ perceptions – both conscious and subconscious – of their relationship with your brand resulting from all their interactions with your brand during the customer life cycle.” We can break this statement down into its parts to dive deeper into its meaning.

  • Customers’ perceptions: Keep in mind that customer experience is all about what your customer believes your brand stands for, not your definition of your brand. Really understanding a customers’ perception involves careful probing and listening, and also requires you to step away from your emotional investment in what you think your brand means. If you don’t start from the customers’ point of view, your chances of success are dramatically reduced.
  • Interactions with your brand: A customers’ view of your brand is the sum total of all their experiences with your company. This includes not only your product itself and your post-sales service functions, but your marketing, your website, interactions between your management and customers, and so forth. Too often each department forms its own engagement strategy, leaving the customer confused about what your company really stands for.
  • Customer life cycle: Superior customer experience doesn’t just come by paying attention to what comes after the sale – or by focusing on the parts before the sale. It is a true “cradle to grave” set of interactions with the customer. From the time they first express interest in your product, to their first order, to becoming a loyal repeat customer – all the experiences the customer has with you should be consistent and should reinforce the brand image you want.

Future blog posts will focus on the key components of developing a good customer experience program and on how to reinforce your brand with every interaction.

We welcome your comments on this post, and invite you to contact us if you’d like to know how we can help you succeed.