The Best Definition
Customer experience is a fast-growing topic of interest and focus. But what exactly is customer experience? How do we start to define the term?
The Cambridge dictionary defines CX as the following: “the way someone feels at all stages of doing business with a company or organization.”
Another great definition comes from the user experience company HotJar who define CX as: “your customers’ holistic perception of their experience with your business or brand. CX is the result of every interaction a customer has with your business, from navigating the website to talking to customer service and receiving the product/service they bought from you.”
Here is my summary and definition of customer experience:
How an individual experiences a company or organisation. This includes products, services, people and the overall customer journey.
Let’s unpack the three key elements of the customer experience to further define the term.
Element 1: Products And Services
I’ve been with apple now for several years. I have an iPhone, Macbook and a Mac desktop computer. The reason I buy so much hardware from apple is simple; I think their products are amazing. Their hardware looks great, feels great and performs great.
Products have a huge impact on customer experience because consumers pay their hard-earned cash in exchange for goods.
Equally, services from a business play a major role in CX. If you have a bad experience at your local dry cleaners, the chances are you won’t return to that shop. You’ll simply find another place for your laundry where the service is better.
Element 2: People
In every organisation there are different types of people. These often include a leader, a leadership team, frontline staff, back-office staff and contractors. Each person or group contributes to the customer experience in some way.
Let’s break this down even further by looking at each group’s contribution to CX:
- The Leader: The Founder, CEO or President of a company can arguably make the biggest contribution to the customer experience. This happens on two levels; how they personally interact with customers and their approach to the company’s CX strategy.
- The Leadership Team: The managers of an organisation are responsible to implement a customer experience strategy on a day-to-day basis. How they lead a team or department will affect CX.
- Frontline Staff: Customer service reps, client relationship managers and receptionists to name a few. Those on the front-line working face to face with customers have a daily responsibility to impact customer experiences.
- Back Office Staff: The good old IT department, HR and maintenance. The people who work here are often unseen but still contribute to CX. For example, the IT department may be responsible for the speed of a business’s website.
- Contractors: These may include graphic designers, brand experts or even lawyers. Contractors may seem irrelevant, but they also play their part. A contracted graphic designer can influence CX by the look and feel of their digital designs for a company.
Element 3: The Customer Journey
The customer journey is the trip your customers take with your organisation from beginning to end. This includes website interactions, social media posts, purchasing a product and any communication with your staff.
Let’s take a closer look at the four stages of the customer journey:
Stage One: Discovery & Choice
A potential customer realises they have a problem they’d like to solve. At this point, they will choose you or another company to be their product or service provider.
Here are some examples of how a customer passes through the discovery and choice stage: a paid advertisement, social media account, company website, a sales call, a google search.
Stage Two: Offering
This stage is all about what your organisation is presenting as a service or product. This involves how good the offer is, where it sits against competitors and the overall quality.
Stage Three: Purchase & Service
This is the part where your lovely customers are parting with their cash in exchange for your services.
They will be experiencing customer service; the way payments are processed and the general purchasing experience.
Stage Four: Loyalty
The loyalty stage involves a company nurturing its existing customers. This can be through email marketing, direct mail discounts or post purchase customer support.
In order to truly understand the concept of customer experience the term must be broken down into products, services, people and the overall customer journey.
How a customer interacts with each of these elements will define their customer experience with your brand.