There are several answers to this query, some obvious, while others are less obvious. A 2019 Gartner report titled "Creating a High-Impact Customer Experience Strategy" noted that there is a need to create, what it calls: a differentiated and innovative customer experience (CX) strategy.
The report goes on to note that such a strategy can help to drive much-needed organizational growth but notes that there is a problem: "Over 70% of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results. Our research shows an improved product experience is (key) to success."
According to the same report, one major mistake (that typically) occurs; is that companies try to fix outdated CX practices rather than implementing newer, more innovative ones. Considering that Gartner found CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined - it would behoove most companies to do the opposite.
Innovation should remain top of mind for firms that wish to stay ahead during a time that changed the way customers interact with businesses. There are more self-service options than at any other point in history; and more ways to contact a real-life agent if tools like IVR; do not quite cut it.
Gartner notes; that according to its research, things like product experience (need to be improved first). That means: how the product performs and how customers feel about it. "More specifically, by enabling customers to self-affirm their purchase decisions, CX teams can build lasting customer loyalty," the report further notes.
In this report - I unpack more of the most crucial findings from Gartner's report and explore themes from other CX leaders that demonstrate the importance of a solid customer experience. In a modern business climate, "good customer experiences" can prove (particularly) essential to customer retention and overall happiness.
Unpacking Some Critical Discoveries
Gartner's report further found; that while 95% of business leaders believe CX teams must deliver superior or world-class customer experiences, (the majority of) CX leaders doubt their present strategy may lead to reaching their goals.
"Delivering an easy and convenient interaction experience creates a good impression, but not one that lasts. In fact, continued improvement does not result in additional loyalty."
Gartner did note; that personalized interaction experiences are not game-changers, nor do they create a lasting impact on customer loyalty. What does? Analysts there say only salient experiences that enable customers’ self-affirmation or ones that help consumers feel confident about their purchase decision.
More from Gartner on "What is CX?"
There is also an ingredient known as the value customers derive from it, a kind of value that can help build long-lasting customer loyalty. Other components like brand perception or how a customer views a company play a role in a solid CX, as well.
What Gartner found matters most, however, well - that is product experience. "Product experience has the 'greatest' impact on customer loyalty, accounting for over 36% of the change in the attitudinal loyalty index, compared with 30.4% for interaction experience, 20.4% for brand perception, and 13% for price."
What Are Experts Saying about CX?
Seeking an answer to the question: How Important is Customer Experience? I reached out to Venkat Kandhari, Principal Consultant at Infosys Limited, who told me that CX and UX (respectively) are invaluable.
For starters: Kandhari noted that "Customer success is imperative for business success, as we are in a digital era, and everything in it is at their fingertips." That could be shopping, ordering food, booking cabs, paying bills, etc., but Kandhari notes that these advancements in technology have prompted higher customer expectations.
"Customers have become informed and are spending their money on goods and services with better pricing and at the same time provide best in class quality and amazing customer experience (CX)/ user experience (UX)."
There remain some challenges:
He said, if a business is to succeed in such a competitive market - organizations "must provide a positive or rather awesome experience via every touch point." Kandhari added, that businesses will cease to exist in no time if they fail to do so.
What companies do crave, Kandhari concluded, experience-wise (amounts to) customer loyalty, customer retention, and brand advocacy which he said: ultimately funnels sustained growth for any business. I also reached out to the folks at CommerceHub, a cloud-based commerce network of thousands of retailers, brands, and suppliers.
CommerceHub's software and services enable its customers to extend their retail and e-commerce footprint with new business models and increased agility/efficiency while improving consumer experiences. I spoke with Mark Grilli, Chief Marketing Officer at CommerceHub, to get his unique take on the importance of CX through the lens of someone who lives and breathes CX.
Grilli shared that: not only are expectations around customer experience really high, but consumers want limitless choices and products curated to their preferences; to be served equally to everyone else. He went on to say:
"Conversely, they are also to be treated as unique individuals. They want faster delivery, but they want it free and with a low carbon footprint, leading to what we call the 'now' economy,"
Customers also want options and more control
According to Grilli, customers crave a consistent and positive level of service "but also to be pleasantly surprised." In a contact center environment, one that is (mostly) remote and in a Post-Pandemic world, CX is everything. The 2022 NICE Digital-First Customer Experience Report, appears to confirm this notion, as according to it:
Eighty-one percent of customers say they want more self-service options and nineteen percent of those folks say they want much more self-service options.
Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences
On delivering exceptional customer experiences, Grilli told me that: Increasingly, customer journeys combine online (as well as) in-store experiences, and customers want that end-to-end experience to be exceptional.
"In short, they want a lot, and they expect it now, and delivering exceptional CX in this environment means thinking of the customer experience end-to-end."
All-too-often, Grilli said, companies view CX as "just a marketing event." Instead, he continued, they "Need to use better data and a robust ecosystem to remove friction while also removing costs." He calls for a network or ecosystem approach, which he says will allow companies to easily and quickly establish new opportunities.
It could also collectively lower costs and enable them to work with trusted partners. Not to forget that a more robust and extensive network could mean: better and more actionable data companies can leverage to enhance overall CX. Grilli summarized, saying, investing in CX is especially important during challenging economic times, and that he expects the companies that do, so will emerge stronger.