French newspaper "Le Nouvel Economiste" dedicated the headlines of its Leadership & Management section to customer experience. It is a vast topic which is very familliar of mine. Indeed, I am a true believer that top of the line customer experience can bring long term revenues to a company. You can take as an example Starbucks, Nespresso, or other popular ones.
But what is customer experience?
Customer experience encompasses all the emotions linked to a purchase, before and after it. Therefore we can consider two main components:
- The shopper experience: Before the good or service has been purchased.
- The customer experience: When the customer uses the good and after.
The goal is to propose more than a product, and being able to bring added value aside of the product's one. It becomes more and more difficult to bring "real" innovation through products as markets and technologies become more and more mature. Therefore, the best way to create something extra is to base it one something immaterial.
The key factor of success to create such an experience is to pay attention to all the different channels the customers use to get in contact with the brand. It goes from the packaging to the websites, and of course, there is a particular attention to pay to the point of sale.
There is also one trap not to get into: To create a customer experience which does not take into account the company's profitability. Indeed, creating a great customer experiences implies a lot of costs in terms of branding, design, communication and so on. But it is also very important to size the increase of profitability it leads to. This is a very difficult task, because as an intangible concept, customer experience takes into account a lot of different costs, from stores furniture to the sales people uniforms, and linking the increase of sales or of marketshares generated from it is most of the time a difficult task.
You may monitor your customer experience efficiency through your after sales/ feedback management service, where you will be able to identify what goes wrong and misses into the experience you propose.
Customer experience also does not imply bringing a high quality experience, based on what you may find in the luxury market. If you look at Ikea's customer experience, it is great because it also implies low cost and an easier way to purchase furniture.
Nevertheless, customer experience is something vital for companies, and it is important to look after what you offer to customers in terms of experience, in order to understand better their expectation.