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The Definition of Customer Experience, Its Impact on Your Brand, and Expert Advice

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While customer experience can make or break a brand, some may benefit from clarification on the true definition of this term. In fact, customer experience is often confused with customer service or user experience.  

If buyers have a positive experience with your company, they’ll become repeat customers and generate steady referrals for your business. The opposite is true too, of course. Providing a poor customer experience earns you a reputation that could sink your business in a hurry.

So, how do we define the customer experience, and what strategies should we employ to encourage a positive customer experience? We explore this and more below, so keep reading.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience (CX) is your customers’ perception of your brand through all aspects of the buyer’s journey. That means it’s a continual improvement process in any channel where you interact with prospects and buyers.

Every touchpoint, from a customer support call to a video ad on social media, adds to your customer’s perception of your brand.

Customer experiences can significantly impact your business’s success. That’s why focusing on creating positive interactions throughout the customer lifecycle has become such a vital component of any good marketing strategy.

Why is customer experience important?

It takes one bad or good interaction with your business to make or break the relationship you’ve built with your customer. This interaction could be anything from a response to a customer’s comment on social media to a newsletter sent to the customer or a customer service call. 

Creating and implementing a customer experience plan can make all the difference. Ensuring each point of contact with your brand offers the best possible experience will go a long way to encouraging a positive overall CX.

What is customer experience management?

Customer experience management (CXM) is all about capturing, evaluating, and using customer data to enhance your customers’ experience. The goal is to identify touchpoints resulting in bad customer experiences and transform them into good ones.

A customer experience manager considers the customer’s experience at all points throughout the customer journey. They use multiple channels to draw in data related to how customers interact with the business and their perception of the brand.

Part of the CXM process involves applying this data to generate specific customer journey maps to illustrate and understand the customer life cycle. 

Customer experience managers repeat the data assessment and touchpoint improvement process regularly to maintain the best possible experience for customers over the long term.

Customer experience vs. customer service

Every time your customer interacts with your brand, they develop an impression of your business. And as we now know, this impression is known as the customer experience. 

Customer service is one possible point of interaction that can lead to a positive or negative perception of your brand. However, it’s only one of many elements that contribute to the overall customer experience.

Customer experience vs. user experience

Graphic representation of the customer experience definition vs. the user experience definition
Source: 47Billion

“User experience” is another term often used interchangeably with customer experience, but the two are vastly different. 

Customer experience relates to a customer’s overall impression of your business based on the sum of all their interactions with your brand. On the other hand, user experience refers more specifically to the experience of using your product or service.

While the user experience plays its part in shaping the overarching CX, it’s only one small piece of the pie.

Customer experience examples: the good and the bad 

At its most basic level, a positive CX is one in which you have anticipated and met the customer’s needs. But it’s often more complex than that, as customers demand more, including a seamless experience, convenience, and a reward for their continued patronage.

Brands with a compelling customer experience strategy in place understand who their customers are and what they want. With this knowledge, they’re able to: 

  • Craft perfectly targeted brand messaging and valuable information
  • Make product research and purchasing hassle-free
  • Ensure quick access to desired customer service and self-service options
  • Provide meaningful rewards to loyal customers 

Examples of a bad CX include:

  • Customer service agents who fail to empathize with frustrated customers
  • Limited access to self-service resources that allow customers to resolve certain issues on their own
  • Ignoring feedback received from customers and failing to make the necessary improvements
  • Making customers wait an unreasonable amount of time for a response, mainly when it’s a customer support call or ticket

Encountering any of these or similar bad customer experiences could prompt your customer to switch to a competitor’s brand.

Effective ways to measure customer experience

There are numerous possible methods available to measure CX. Some are more straightforward than others, but there’s no denying that having robust CRM software at your disposal is half the battle won.

Looking for an easy-to-use CRM with all the features you need to boost sales?

Nutshell has what you’re looking for.

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Here are some of the most common approaches for measuring customer experience for your business:

  • Customer surveys: Feedback received directly from your customers provides the best data for measurement, allowing you to determine general customer satisfaction and impressions of specific products, features, or services.
  • Quantitative data: With a CRM or detailed record-keeping, you can capture and analyze customer data, such as churn rates, cross-sells, up-sells, revenue growth, and more, to determine customer experience success.
  • A/B testing: Test different versions of your customer-facing assets on customer segments to determine which your customers respond to positively, ensuring an optimal experience.
  • Community focus groups: If your website includes a community forum, scan through the discussions to determine what your customers like, what they would like to change, and how they experience your products and services.
  • Staff input: Staff members in customer-facing roles may be able to provide additional insight, as they will have discussed several pain points with customers and received feedback that could be valuable.

Implementing your customer experience strategy

The first step to implementing an effective CX strategy is having the right tools to get the job done. As data extraction and evaluation are at the core of any CX strategy, a good CRM system is one of the most crucial tools you’ll need. 

Nutshell provides an industry-leading CRM solution that’s packed with all the features you need but is so easy to use that getting started is a breeze.

With features like customizable analytics and reporting, you can lead acquisition and lost deals and monitor your customer’s journey through the sales funnel and beyond.

Nutshell also equips you with advanced contact management abilities, comprehensive sales management features, communication and collaboration tools, plenty of app integrations, and a host of marketing features that include A/B testing for email marketing. 

When you choose Nutshell, you’ll have a powerful CXM partner by your side, helping you implement the following tactics for a well-rounded CX strategy:

  • Ensure all stakeholders have easy access to information
  • Ask for and assess customer and employee feedback regularly
  • Offer an integrated, consistent omnichannel experience
  • Provide plenty of self-help resources
  • Personalize your direct messaging and interactions
  • Use a powerful CRM to analyze customer data continually
  • Build a customer-centric company culture
  • Use the data and feedback you receive to drive positive change

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8 CX experts share their customer experience definitions and best advice

We asked eight professionals to share what customer experience means to them and their best examples of what CX looks like in the real world.

Here’s what the experts have to say.

1. Reduce friction and add value

Customer experience is an umbrella that covers all consumer interactions with your company. This includes how they feel about the products you offer and any interactions they have with your brand, as well as with representatives of your company. Customer experience thinks about the full journey of a customer’s lifecycle and how to optimize each touchpoint to reduce friction and maximize revenue per customer. 

An ideal customer experience might look something like this: they purchase your product or service to solve their pain point. Along the way, they contact your customer service team, get a question answered, and learn about another way that your product adds value to their life or business. Based on that value, they become a repeat customer and recommend you to their network.

Katherine Mays, former VP of Customer Experience at Nutshell

2. Provide a consistent experience

The customer experience is the accumulation of each interaction a customer has with your brand. That can include their experience in your store, on your website, and even scrolling through your social media channels.

I often find myself getting frustrated when I shop with small businesses with attentive social media managers but careless customer support. You must ensure consistent interactions across the board to retain your customer base!

Nikitha Lokareddy, Director of Client Services at Markitors

3. Listen first, then find a solution

I spent nine years working as the consumer advocate for a local TV station. It was a great education into what works and what doesn’t work in the way of customer experience. I found that people would call us looking for help when they felt the company wasn’t listening. And it wasn’t enough to have someone listen and then pass off the problem. The customer needs to know that someone will both hear what they have to say and find someone to create a solution.

Rick DeBruhl, Communication Consultant

4. Turn negative experiences into positive ones

Bad customer experiences are inevitable. When a customer leaves a bad review of your business, they are really just looking for help. Companies have to be all ears, listen hard, and understand where they’re coming from.

That’s especially true if you’re the business owner. If a business owner can make the time to call frustrated customers directly, that outreach can go a long way in turning a negative experience into a positive one. 

Brian Greenberg, former CEO/Founder at True Blue Life Insurance

5. First impressions matter most

Customer experience is simply how a customer or client interacts with your brand. Much like people generate first impressions when they meet someone for the first time, your customers do the same with your brand!

Since we conduct our business online, we make it a priority to provide our customers with the easiest checkout experience possible coupled with fast shipping, which will ensure their first experience with us is a great one. Once we get that first impression right, our customers will continue to purchase from us and recommend us to their colleagues.

Vanessa Molica, Founder of The Lash Professional

6. Service is important—but it’s only one piece

For many, customer service and customer experience are seemingly interchangeable. But customer service is a single touchpoint, while customer experience impacts feelings and emotions throughout the entire customer journey. Although both are important, finding ways to improve your customer experience as a whole should be the top priority of your business strategy.

Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case

7. Appeal to all five senses

My definition of customer experience is the feeling you get as a result of any interaction with a brand, good or bad. I believe the brands that successfully promote great customer experiences are those that strategically use multi-sensory marketing in their arsenal of experiential methods.

A great example is Disneyland and Disney World, which have dedicated departments that oversee multi-sensory marketing, from the use of “olfactory” smelling techniques to visual perspectives. Next time you visit a Disney theme park, pay attention to this and understand how it benefits the entire customer experience and, as a result, creates loyal fans worldwide.

Karissa Yson, Brand Strategist and Business Development

8. “What does the customer think?”

Customer experience is the entirety of the customer interaction, from enticing the customer (marketing) through post-purchase. It culminates in “What does the customer think about our company?”

The best experience I’ve had arose from the ashes of the worst. I rented a van for a long trip. During the trip, there was a comedy of errors (malfunctions, no fuel, bad attitudes). Upon return, the manager of the local branch apologized and worked with me to find a reasonable solution. His customer service ensured I stayed loyal to his company and ensured good “word of mouth” advertising.

Matthew Lee, Learning and Development Leader

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