Customer experience is the key to winning customers’ hearts. The quality of the product, the fun website, the friendly customer service – all of these pieces come together to create an experience that will grow loyalty and bring back repeat buyers.

Companies that do a great deal of business online have an even greater need to remember that any interaction between a customer and a brand is a crucial opportunity to make a good impression. After all, you have a finite amount of time to impress a customer before they open a new tab and – click! – they move on to a competitor.

Customer experience improves sales

It’s critical to remember that positive customer experiences directly translate into improvement of the bottom line. Not sure if that’s true? Check out these statistics:

  • An American Express customer service survey found that 78% of consumers have backed out on an intended purchase because of a negative experience.
  • The same survey states that 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your company again.

Thinking that you can just get new customers to replace the old? Think again:

  • According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it is 6-7 times more costly to acquire a new customer than to maintain an existing one.
  • The same source states that loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. That small sale they backed out on could have turned into a significant amount of revenue in the long run.

Making a customer experience investment should not be considered a business cost, but a sales opportunity. The costs that go into developing a better customer experience will come back to you ten times over in sales.

Customer experience impacts reputation

Word-of-mouth is one of your strongest marketing tools. It’s free and often goes directly to your target audience through a source they trust. The American Express survey found that Americans tell an average of nine people about a good customer experience. That means nine potential new customers that you were otherwise unable to reach!

Word-of-mouth can also be a dangerous weapon when you don’t exercise positive customer service skills. That same study showed that Americans, on average, tell 16 people about a negative customer experience. News of bad customer service reaches almost twice as many listeners as praise for good service.

The Internet acts as a megaphone for these complaints, too. With public-facing review sites like Yelp, customer complaints are easy to make and even easier to find.

Great customer experience increases loyalty

Always remember the old retail adage: customers remember the experience longer than they remember the price. Focusing on improving consumer experience is more important than competitive pricing. A recent study shows that 86% of customers will pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.

You will never be able to anticipate every customer issue. At the same time, you can make it easy for customers to reach you to fix any problems they encounter. Providing multiple ways to solve issues through self-service (like FAQs and knowledge repositories), responsive service (like email and social media), and live service (like chat, phone, and cobrowsing) makes it easy for customers to contact you in the way that makes the most sense for them. And 70% of unhappy customers whose issues were resolved in their favor said they would be willing to come back.

Putting your customers’ needs at the center of your business will ultimately result in stronger sales, a better reputation, and a loyal customer base that will keep coming back for more.