Often, people confuse the customer journey with the selling process. While the sales process is focused on how to get a buyer to purchase a product or service, the customer journey provides value and takes into account all of the questions and needs that must be answered and met along the way. According to Forrester, 21% of businesses base how well they’re handling customer experience on the business outcome (if they make a sale, for example). However, customers have to go through their journey at their own pace with plenty of content and support agents to help them along.
According to Forrester, between 70% and 90% of the buyer’s journey is finished before ever communicating with a vendor. While 80% of businesses feel that they provide a great customer experience, only 8% of customers agree. If you’re not one of those rare brands with customers who are truly enjoying their journey, it’s necessary to improve the customer experience you’re offering.
The Importance of Creating Value
According to 2014’s Marketing Performance Management Study, Best-in-Class (BIC) marketing companies create value by applying the follow best practices:
• They map touchpoints, taking note of possible problems.
• They look at each touchpoint to capture data regarding customer perception and expectation.
• They apply the customer experience and related metrics to business outcome.
• They create tools, processes, content, and systems to offer customers a differentiated journey.
James Allen’s Three Ds of Exceptional Customer Service
In an article for the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge for Business Leaders, James Allen, Barney Hamilton, and Frederick F. Reichheld defined three elements that set apart the elite 8% of companies that deliver a superior customer experience.
1. “They design the right offers and experiences for the right customers.”
2. “They deliver these propositions by focusing the entire company on them with an emphasis on cross-functional collaboration.”
3. “They develop their capabilities to please customers again and again – by such means as revamping the planning process, training people in how to create new customer propositions, and establishing direct accountability for the customer experience.”
How Business Outcomes are Affected by Customer Experience
A brand won’t be able to reach its business outcome goals (repeat purchases, customer lifetime value, and brand preference, for example) if they don’t focus on customer experience. BIC companies realize that what happens before the sale is just as important as what happens after the sale.