There are a few problems that come from misunderstanding the nature of customer experience. Brands can make enormous, costly mistakes, to the detriment of themselves and ironically their customers if they try to tackle improve experience without focusing in the right direction which will drive the most value for both themselves and their customers.
Harvard Business Review wrote an article “Know the Difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience” by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute, raises two very important points
- how important it is to be able to understand and engage with your customers on a holistic basis.
- customer relationships must be managed as a lifetime asset.
These two points have significant ramifications for the way brands view their customers and the way they try to manage the interactions and conversations they have with them across the different touchpoints and silos, and – critically – over time. Also, it moves the focus away from experience to value, and the way in which value is created jointly between the brand and each individual customer.
The reality is that it’s not enough to manage each individual experience. A holistic understanding of the end-to-end customer journey is vital (see HBR ) And it’s not just about visualising the journey – journeys must be actionable so that brands can provide a personal and contextually relevant experience at every step on the journey.
All this can only happen with a truly outside-in perspective on the customer and the way in which they are interacting across all the different operational silos and touchpoints of a brand – retail, service, or marketing channels to start with.
It’s the customer’s journey: they have a goal, and it is they who will manage how it is achieved. They won’t necessarily tell you, and they won’t make it easy. But it the brand has visibility over an individuals interactions across the brand and can optimise the value of each conversation, they stand a very good chance of meeting (or even exceeding) that customer’s expectations. The power of that experience, consistently provided at every interaction can lead to lifelong brand loyalty and advocacy.
The bottom line of all this is of course lifetime customer value – in fact not just the financial value of each customer, but also the important ways in which engaged customers contribute to brand success through direct referrals, influencing brand discussions, and contributing knowledge assets. The truth is, customer experience is a part of customer engagement, and to drive real value for customers and for themselves, brands need to focus on the bigger picture of Customer Engagement.