The customer is always right: How understanding the customer experience can drive brand loyalty


“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Customer service guru Steve Curtin calls customer experience management “the art and science of coaxing lifetime loyalty from daily transactions.” In theory, it should be a breeze. We're all someone’s customer. We know the difference between a good experience and a bad one. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget all that in our business lives, focusing instead on what seems good for our company. We worry about optimizing resources, minimizing costs, and maximizing profit. We focus inward when designing our processes rather than on our customers - and that’s not good for business.

An Everchanging Challenge

In 1998, Joseph Pine and James Gilmore coined the phrase "the experience economy." Although support for their ideas has ebbed and flowed over the years, their core argument still holds true - products and services offering a frictionless, convenient experience that delights rather than frustrates the user will be more memorable, have a higher perceived value, and will generate greater customer loyalty than those which don't.

In PwC's most recent customer loyalty survey, more than half of the respondents said they'd stop buying from a previously liked company after several bad experiences - 8% said they'd stop after just one. Highlighting the fact that customer experience doesn't exist in a vacuum, 32% said they'd leave because of a bad experience with customer support rather than the product or service itself.

There was a time when customer loyalty grew from regular, in-person interactions with local shopkeepers. Then came the mall, less personal and local; big-box stores with loyalty being more engendered by a brand. The Internet and e-commerce changed habits again, enabling customers to shop anywhere, compare prices across companies in moments, and leave and read reviews. This proliferation of alternatives has led to increased customer volatility as consumers are more likely to vote with their feet if they feel businesses don’t share their values or aren’t providing the experience they expect.

Understanding the Problem

So, how do you keep your customers happy and engaged? Few products or services are irreplaceable, but how do you create a customer experience wrapper that makes yours indispensable? First, you must honestly answer the most critical question - "Do I understand my customers' journey from first contact to last?" Unless you can respond with an unequivocal "yes," how can you expect to make improvements? How can you reduce friction if you don't know where the pain points are? How can you weigh up alternatives and make informed choices?

In a previous blog about customer experience (Have a Nice Day! Create a Better Experience for Your Banking Customers Through Convenience and Connection), we discussed how customers are looking not only for convenience but also for personalization. Providing multiple touchpoints and channels which allow customers to interact with you in ways convenient to them rather than forcing them to accept compromises that work best for you is good. Still, they can be a double-edged sword if not properly thought through. Digital channels might provide speed and convenience for 90% of transactions, but how do you handle the 10% when customers need to speak to an actual person? Chatbots are efficient but are they giving the correct answers, and, more importantly, are they "human" enough to make your customers feel valued? Minimizing call center staffing might save costs but waiting on hold for 20 minutes won’t delight customers.

BusinessOptix's platform can help you understand and transform your customers' experience through discovery, modeling, and simulation:

  • Build on data, not assumptions - Our process discovery tools enable you to gather current, complete information about how your organization works today. This is a prerequisite for creating a seamless, frictionless customer experience.
  • Make it real - We firmly believe a picture is worth a thousand words. That's why we've provided process mapping tools so you can build a visual representation of your end-to-end customer journey (across web, mobile, phone, email, and physical store) and then overlay your people, processes, and systems. Only then can you understand each element's role in your customers' current experience – for good or ill.
  • Change, test, repeat - Our scenario modeling and simulation tools help you identify problem areas, try out potential improvements, and evaluate the difference they make. Because you're working with a digital simulation, you can test changes quickly, cheaply, and without risk to your day-to-day operations. You’re also able to balance customer experience improvements against operational metrics like cost and resourcing to understand the tradeoffs and make informed decisions.

Best of all, once you have a digital twin of your organization (DTO), you can build a continuous improvement culture around customer journey excellence. This is essential because the bar for customer experience is constantly rising. What’s extraordinary today will be commonplace tomorrow.  

Creating “Stickiness”

Think about all the products and services you buy. Some will be monopolies like power and water, others will be staples like foodstuffs, but some (probably a surprisingly large number) will be conscious choices made because the supplier “gets it.” Their product or service works the way you want it to, rather than forcing you to work the way it wants you to. Think about how you feel about those brands. Isn’t that how you want your customers to think about yours?

The advantages of a good customer experience are well documented. They include increased acquisition rates, enhanced engagement and loyalty, increased lifetime customer value, and reduced cost of service. Time and resources spent on improving CX aren’t a cost, they’re an investment. The trick is to invest in those things which give you the most significant payback. With BusinessOptix, you can make better choices and more effective improvements.

Gartner has flagged Total Experience (TX) as one of its top strategic technology trends for 2022. This blog is the first of three which explore the elements of TX and how BusinessOptix can help you achieve it. This time we focused on Customer Experience (CX). In our next blog, we’ll discuss Employee Experience (EX). The third and final blog will explain how it comes together as TX.

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