Customer experience can feel like an absolute headache to tackle. Nobody wants to answer the phone for the umpteenth time. You especially don’t want to when you know it’s that one customer calling about something inane… like where they can’t find the “sign in” button, even though they’re already signed in. This is what most companies imagine a good customer experience entails: customer support. But, these are not interchangeable terms, and customer experience runs far deeper than good customer service.
Customer experience is anything and everything that affects your customers’ perception of your brand. It helps them navigate the buying cycle, it educates them, and it encourages them to stick with you or move onto another option. It’s the holistic experience of your brand and includes all touch points with the customer across every medium and device. It includes customer support, but it also includes how you price your products, how your market your SaaS product and how you use the customer data that you collect. Most simply put, good customer experience means that you are holistically helping your customers do what they came to your business to do.
Why is Customer Experience so important?
Customer experience is your core offering in a SaaS company. Not to state the obvious, but you’re selling software as a service… you promise an ease-of-use for your customers, an alternative to them simply doing it themselves, and an opportunity for them to save time or money. Without focusing on your customers’ experiences and ensuring they are smooth, you’re helping your competitors explain to them why your brand isn’t the right fit.
Customer happiness, loyalty, and retention is one thing, but what it leads to is the clincher. Good customer experience has been proven to result in revenue growth. Harvard Business Review found that “customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experiences”. Forrester’s Customer Experience Index further found that the brands who reportedly have the best customer experiences achieved 17% compound growth between 2010 and 2015, while the brands with the worst reported customer experiences only achieved 3% growth over the same period.
A report by Walker in 2017 (updated since their 2013 report) concluded that:
- 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer experience.
- 73% of buyers point to customer experience as an important factor in purchasing decisions.
- 65% of buyers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.
- Customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020.
Those may be some of the end goals, but to understand why we need to investigate what forming a good customer experience takes. Although it’s a popular move to embrace customer-centric business strategies at the moment, not all companies seem to grasp the extent of this entails. As we mentioned before, for most businesses it’s about customer support and engagement, but those are small cogs of the experience engine. Some of the cogs that we think make up a more holistic experience are:
- Product pricing: Price your products and services fairly, with both your growth and the customer’s satisfaction in mind. While you need to make sure that your business is growing in revenue and profit, you also need to make sure no customers experience buyer’s regret. Are you offering realistic value for the price that you’re selling at? Do your customers understand this?
- Identifying pain points: Identifying your customers’ pain points is an ongoing process, as is the communication of your solutions. You should constantly be analysing what your customers need to be successful when using your service, and you should be communicating your solutions clearly with them. You may not get to everyone’s problem immediately, but you should create a culture of caring that your customers can rely on. This helps to evolve your customers into advocates of your brand, who not only remain loyal to you but will happily promote your company to their networks.
- Customer support: It’s quite simple really. Be easy to contact, and respond quickly and consistently.
- Up-selling: Up-selling isn’t purely selfish, and you should be doing it with your customers in mind. If you base your up-selling on customers’ recent behaviour or purchases, it should consistently push your customers to grow. As they successfully use a part of your service, you should be encouraging them to get further involved and educate them on how they could be using other tools to achieve greater success.
- R&D: Nobody wants to buy into a stagnant service company. Customers want you to continuously evolve and improve your offering. They want to know you’re willing to experiment and test things for their future benefit.
- Data analysis: Use the customer data that you collect wisely. Obviously keeping in mind the recent GDPR and regional privacy laws, you should be doing something with the customer data that you are collecting. Does this customer not read your support emails? Make a note to phone them. Does that customer always purchase up-sell offers? Create a unique discount for them. Use your data to personalise your offering and to build greater relationships with your customers that become personal connections.
There are many more cogs to turn, but it’s clear how bettering your customer experience gains you a competitive advantage. It requires you to maintain a good product or service selection, fair price points, great customer service, and to promote your brand loyalty through honest marketing and sales tactics. It builds your business on all levels and, when you’re in your groove, it becomes something unlike any other marketing or business growth strategy; unique.
Great customer experience is hard to replicate because it’s been built on the values of your business and honed by what your loyal customers want. It creates an atmosphere around your company that competitors are unable to copy, and so gives you an edge that you can maintain throughout your business’s life.