Customer service and the experience customers have whilst working with a business are a top priority for customer-centric organisations. And now more than ever, customer experience is vital to drive an increase in growth, retention, loyalty, and ultimately, spend.
Many more organisations are seeing the value of placing the customer at the heart of everything they do and enjoying the benefits this can bring to their top and bottom lines. Customer experience is so much more than customer service, and when well executed can really enhance and strengthen your customer relationships.
Here, we take a deeper look at what “customer experience” encompasses, how to measure it accurately, who is responsible for it and how to place it at the centre of your organisation.
What is customer experience?
Most businesses use customer satisfaction surveys to capture what customers think about their organisation at a particular point in time. This may be in the form of an annual survey, or through capturing feedback after receiving a customer complaint. By viewing customers through this lens, you are rating the health of the relationship on that one moment in time. Good or bad, it is easy to form opinions that may be at odds with reality. We created our ‘Voice of the customer’ feedback programme to create more frequent and relevant opportunities to hear what our customers think and capture their feedback on their experience of working with us.
At Softcat we want to take customer satisfaction to the next level and look at the whole customer experience, not just a moment in time. We define customer experience as how we make our customers feel, and the perception they have of our business and our brand as a result of every interaction they have with us, throughout the entire customer journey.
Customer experience and company culture are incredibly intertwined. People have always been at the heart of what we do and integral to our success is our team – all our team, not just salespeople - building strong and lasting relationships with our customers. A customer-first culture like the one we encourage at Softcat asks every individual to prioritise customer experience, no matter their role or level of seniority.
Customer experience can be influenced at every touchpoint along the journey and as such should be measured in this way. It builds up over time across multiple interactions and engagements.
What more can you do to make your customer experience a better one?
It is important to take all feedback on board to make your organisation even better at what it does. It can help by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand their point of view.
By opening yourself up to constructive criticism, as well as positive praise, you will be able to resolve issues and bottlenecks, reward and motivate employees, find out more about the market to improve your offering, strengthen customer relationships and boost loyalty.
It is not just all about relationships either. Within a varied customer base, understanding customers and their unique markets on a deeper level can teach you about key developments and shifts affecting their businesses, as well as their priorities and long-term goals. This can help to future-proof the services you deliver.
Piecing together the puzzle
Insights about a customer are picked up along the journey, often captured by many individuals and departments. This can cause information siloes and make it difficult to piece together the puzzle.
Collating feedback - good and bad - in a central place and in real time, is the key to understanding the broader picture when it comes to customer experience and making positive changes.
It is also important to ensure this knowledge is shared across the business; to sales teams interacting with customers every day, to marketing and communications, and to those business leaders focused on growing the brand and the bottom line.
Sharing customer feedback and insights across an entire organisation accelerates the speed at which challenges are overcome and improvements are made. As a result, organisations can create a “continuity of experience,” ensuring customer expectations are met, if not exceeded, at every opportunity.
To ensure we are capitalising on any insights we capture we have created a dedicated customer experience team, with specially selected customer experience champions whose sole purpose is to ensure we put the voice of the customer and the ‘customer experience’ at the heart of our business. These individuals ensure the right people have access to the right customer information and make our customers' experience a better one.
As part of this shift, we recently evolved our annual customer satisfaction survey to focus on the complete customer journey. As well as asking customers about their experiences of working with Softcat, we are also able to dig a little deeper to find out what they are prioritising in the year ahead from a technology perspective and the most pressing challenges they need our support in overcoming.
We can use these insights to develop and invest in solutions and service areas that will benefit our customers the most over the next 12 months.
Every year, we also present our top-level findings in our Business Technology Priorities Report. This is shared across Softcat to help inform our strategy as a business. It is also used as a conversation starter with customers and vendors, and externally with business and technology publications to support conversation among the wider industry. Please visit here to read the full report.
Building a solid customer focused organisation is paramount to business success. The customer has always come first. Now, more than ever, it is critical to think more broadly than just customer service and really embrace creating a ‘customer experience’ your whole company can be proud of.