Gone are the days of a company selling based on the uniqueness of a product! Today companies are able to produce and offer a product that nearly matches their competitors. Consequently, companies are starting to differentiate themselves based on the quality of service they provide rather than the products they sell.

The rise of Social Media has allowed customers to become more knowledgeable and has given them access to a variety of information that influences their purchasing decisions. Customers perform considerable research online, talk to their peers, review online feedback etc., before they engage with a company to buy a product.

Customers have increasingly growing expectations that companies should invest in the buyer-seller relationship, which includes the financial and emotional expectations of the customer that may evolve. But why is customer experience important? Is there a measurable connection between customer experience, better sales and revenue for the company? And why should companies leverage Social Media to promote a better customer experience?

As mentioned in this article, customer experience is an important need that can be classified as its own metric. Since customers have a whole host of options available to them, customer experience is the major differentiator between companies offering the same product/service. Although in the past, customer experiences may have been limited to interactions between the company and the buyer, customers can now harness the power of Social Media to accentuate a bad customer experience very rapidly.

As Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research states, customer experience is important because it directly ties to viable loyalty and revenue metrics. If a customer has a great experience then they are more likely to purchase from that company again or recommend it to a friend. This experience can also equate to a customer not buying from a competitor and subsequently generate additional revenue.

Another example of the importance of customer experience can be found in these 10 important customer experience stats. These stats show a high correlation between a good customer experience and the willingness to purchase from the same company again:

  • According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations
  • Only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores this year (2013). 64% of brands got a rating of “OK,” “poor,” or “very poor” from their customers
  • 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience
  • 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • Only 26% of companies have a well-developed strategy in place for improving the customer experience

The stats promote a very simple concept; differentiate your brand based on customer experience and not the product. The ability to build relationships and offering unique experience to each customer are key factors for success.

Although the trend may just be just beginning to grow, companies are taking note of the importance of customer experience.

An example of such an experience has been making rounds on Social Media recently – How One Business Fulfilled a Ridiculous Customer Request. A customer moving into a resort in Texas asked the hotel for an unusual request: 3 red M&Ms on the counter and a picture of bacon on the bed. Needless to say the hotel complied with these requests although they were rather ridiculous and comical. The barrage of Social Media traffic may have been unexpected to say the least, but the reasons behind why the requests were met align with our discussion. The hotel listened to their customer and more importantly displayed the commitment to promoting a great customer experience. The request may seem rather minute, but the ability to deliver what the customer requested differentiated this resort from its competitors.

Another example of promoting customer experience can be found in Bodyform’s video response to a customer. A male customer had commented on this maxi pad company’s Facebook page stating that the company had lied to him through their advertising campaigns over the years, leading him to believe that periods involved “a lot of blue liquid, extreme sports, and fun music.” This highly popular comment was another comical response from a customer, but rather than being ignored it was met with an equally comical response from the company. Bodyform responded with a video wherein the CEO Caroline Williams (played by an actress) states that the company lied to protect men from the “blood coursing” horrors of a period. In this case the customer does not purchase the product directly, but Bodyform’s initiative again exhibits their ability to listen to customers. This video promotes the brand using Social Media and offers a great example of how companies should interact with each customer in a unique manner.

Customer experience is an ever-changing relationship that requires an ongoing involvement from companies. Today more customers are equipped with more information than they ever have been before. The expansion of technology has provided customers with access to a wide range of products. Companies can interact with customers in a variety of ways, but the focus should be on positively reinforcing the relationship. Listening to the customer and evolving your strategy to meet the needs of a customer are key factors in building this relationship. Customer experience will increasingly play a vital role in a business and should be incorporated into any good business strategy.