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How to define the customer experience (CX)

By Samantha Garner | March 23, 2019

small business restaurant franchise

What exactly is customer experience (CX) and why is it so important?

Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with your business, either during one transaction or over the lifetime of your relationship. Customers receive some kind of experience when dealing with your business, ranging from negative to positive. A company’s ability to deliver a positive experience each and every time that someone does business with it sets that company apart from its competitors in the customer’s eyes. Research shows that customers do business with companies they like, so the more positive experiences a customer has with your business, the more they’ll continue to do business with you — in essence, your customer develops brand loyalty, and brand loyalty translates into dollars.

How to define the customer experience

To define your customer experience, it’s important that you know what your customers want and need. How do you know what their experience should be like if you’ve not asked them what they want from you and your business? What pains are you solving for them? Primary market research should be conducted early on with your target market to make sure you know what customers are looking for, what their pain is, what’s missing, and where you can fill a gap in the marketplace. Once you have an understanding of what your customers need, you can visualize the best ways to satisfy those needs through customer experience. Start by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes – revisit our earlier posts about the Empathy Map here and here to get started.

Delivering what customers want

Of course, designing a great customer experience is only the first part — you must actually deliver on that experience, and then measure your CX satisfaction to make sure you’re delivering a great CX for your customers. Then you must ask the customer if they had the experience you wanted them to have. A Harvard Business School study of large companies in the US found that over 70% of business executives believed their companies delivered on their customer experience design. But when the researchers asked the customers of those businesses, the story was quite different. Only 8% of customers felt they had the experience they were looking for. Yikes!

Why the difference? Sounds like the big companies weren’t communicating with their customers — either they were designing the wrong customer experience, or they weren’t delivering the experience properly. In any case, the customer walks away with a less than positive impression and the business loses future sales potential.

How can you deliver the customer experience that’ll inspire loyalty? Let us know in the comments!

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