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What is Customer Experience (CX)?

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Perception. When researching how to explain Customer Experience (CX), it quickly became clear that most thought leaders and experts on the subject agree that CX is all about how the customer perceives your brand. From a 30,000-foot view, as my boss often likes to say, this explanation might suffice. However, for marketers, salespeople, and customer service reps with boots on the ground, summing up customer experience with a single word doesn’t quite capture its true complexity.  

While perception is a nice way to wrap CX up in a neat little box and deliver it with a bow, we’re going to take a closer look and unpack some of the factors that contribute to that perception to better capture what customer experience is. 

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The Slow & Steady Descent

If perception is the 30,000-foot view, the contributing factors that shape that perception, and the overall customer experience, are checkpoints on a slow and steady descent. The possible contributing factors are virtually endless—most vary from customer to customer—but there are several standard factors that fall into one of three categories: Buying Journey & Customer Cycle, Internal Values & Practices, and Products or Services Received. 

Buying Journey & Customer Cycle: 

Touchpoints in the buying journey and customer cycle are likely to have the greatest impact on CX. They are the most direct experiences your customers have with your brand, and, therefore, they’ll have the most direct impact on customer experience. Important factors that contribute to the quality of the buying journey and the customer cycle include, 

  • Brand Messaging  
  • Personalization 
  • Problem/Conflict Resolution 
  • Digital & Human Interactions 
  • Responsiveness 
  • Ease & Efficiency 

Internal Values and Practices: 

In recent years, customers and buyers have shown an increasing interested in the internal values and practices of the companies they do business with. For many consumers, great buying journeys, customer cycles, and product performance are no longer enough to sustain an excellent customer experience. Long term, consumers have better customer experiences when they do business with companies that have strong values, and a history of demonstrating those values in their corporate practices. Matters, such as the following, are having a greater influence on the quality of CX. 

  • Brand Integrity 
  • Brand Transparency 
  • Reception of & Response to Consumer Feedback 
  • Social Responsibility 
  • Environmental Responsibility 
  • Employee Experience 

Products or Services Received: 

Perhaps the most obvious factor that contributes to CX is the quality of the actual product or service they receive. Implementing and/or improving all the previous contributing factors will be a waste of time if your product or service is subpar. Your customer experience may be impeccable, but the ROI of CX can only be realized if the customer is also happy with their purchase. Product performance is an obvious contributor to customer experience, but there are other considerations that can influence whether the final outcome of a customer experience is positive or negative. 

  • Quality of Overall Performance
  • Fulfillment of Customer Specific Expectations
  • Ease of Order/Execution
  • Available Support Services
  • Innovation Opportunities
  • Return on Investment (ROI)

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Customer Experience (CX)

Now that we’ve gained a solid footing, it’s easy to see why most people prefer the little box with the bow. Nevertheless, investing in customer experience requires a more comprehensive understanding. There’s a great deal of strategy, agility, commitment, and organizational orchestration that goes into creating the customer experience, or rather that goes into creating an excellent customer experience. If you’re going to devote precious time to optimizing your CX you’ll have to use that 30,000-foot view as a jumping off point.  

When you’re standing in the middle of the day-to-day operations that must work together to deliver an exceptional customer experience, ‘perception’ seems too simple an explanation. From that perspective, customer experience is better described as the elaborate coordination of many, highly-variable elements that impact how the customer feels about your brand. 

CX is not simple or straightforward. If you listed all the things that influenced your personal customer experience today, it’d likely differ from the list you’d make tomorrow or in a week. It’d certainly differ from the list that I’d make or the person behind you in line (or online) would make. Customer Experience is about perception, but more importantly it’s about the process that creates the perception. 

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