Software customer expectations have changed over the last decade. Your customers are looking for good software, of course, but customer experience (CX) has become an almost equally important factor in how satisfied a customer is with a product.
In an age of options, customers want their brand interactions to be quick, effective, and personal.
SaaS businesses that want to thrive, rather than merely survive, can’t get by on product features alone. To be truly competitive, they must establish CX as a core element of their brand identity.
It’s a good idea to back your customer relationship management strategy up with research. By taking a look at industry leaders' thoughts and statistics, it becomes easier to form a CX strategy that bolsters your brand image, reduces churn, and keeps customers happy.
CX can be a key part of your marketing strategy
A good customer experience does more than just keep your existing clients happy. Brands that truly excel at providing a positive customer experience can use it as a marketing strategy to attract new clients.
As Slack’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield puts it:
“Every customer interaction is a marketing opportunity. If you go above and beyond on the customer service side, people are much more likely to recommend you.”
60% of marketers say their referral programs generate a significant number of new leads. Often, these referral-generated leads are converted into sales. Recent surveys have revealed that people are four times more likely to do business with a company when it has been recommended by someone they know.
Businesses that view customer satisfaction as part of an overall marketing strategy are naturally more likely to provide superior service. And if you can consistently provide superior service, it’s more likely to result in organic referrals. As you craft your customer experience strategy, ask yourself, “What would the outcome be if this customer told their friend about this interaction?”
The goal should always be to craft customer experiences that you would proudly have broadcast to the world.
Data-driven CX can help you improve the customer journey
Mistakes are a great way to learn and improve your customer experience strategy. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
There’s an almost hokey simplicity to this statement, and one can imagine similar advice coming from the lips of a mother as she applies a bandage to the skinned knee of a young child. “Well, you won’t be trying that again, will you?”
And yet in the age of information, Gates’s statement has never rung truer. Businesses are now empowered to use their analytics technology to receive granular insights into the customer lifecycle. With this information, your customer service teams have insight into the pain points customers complain about the most, their product-related struggles, and even at what point people are churning out.
With this data, you can improve your customer journey, and constantly smooth out the rough spots that are causing the most churn.
Personalization is the new standard
Thanks to companies like Amazon that have massive swaths of consumer data to aid in the CX efforts, the public tolerance for impersonal CX interactions has dropped dramatically. Penny Wilson, CMO of Hootsuite says, “No longer will people accept viral marketing. What customers are expecting and craving is a more personalized, curated experience.”
A recent survey revealed that 80% of customers expect a degree of personalization in their interactions with a brand. While personalization used to mean data-backed product recommendations, expectations have advanced considerably in recent years.
Nearly 3 out of 4 customers expect the customer service agents they speak with to know at least basic information, like their name, buying history, and contact information.
Having this information serves a practical purpose. With data at the ready, your customers won’t have to spend an hour bouncing around departments relaying their information to each new agent. The info will be where it’s needed and the customer will feel appreciated as a result.
Customer experience should shape the product
Customers may see your product differently than you do—especially as circumstances change and situations develop.
Zoom is a good example of a company that was able to pivot very rapidly into new features and service options in response to consumer needs. Originally framed as a way to communicate with distant family members (CEO Eric Yuan first came up with the idea while in a long-distance relationship), the company was able to shift into business communication features at the start of the pandemic.
It did this by developing business-friendly templates and features that were vital to businesses making the switch to remote work. Simultaneously, it also made its technology freely available to schools and other high-need institutions.
The result? In just ten years, “Zoom” went from being an idea in someone’s head to a verb. On customer experience, Yuan says, “We truly care about our customers. Every day, we think about what we can do differently to bring happiness to the customers, to those users, including K-12 schools, healthcare organizations, telemedicine, telehealth, and also there are so many new things in the pipeline.”
Implementing customer feedback is key to ensuring that your product grows in the right direction.
Let customer experience shape your brand identity
CX expert and speaker Stan Phelps says, “Customer experience isn’t an expense. Managing customer experience bolsters your brand.”
Some businesses bake their excellent customer experiences right into their overall identity. Amazon is an obvious example, but many other, smaller businesses build brand loyalty by ensuring they provide a superior customer experience every time.
The cloud support company Rackspace once made headlines for having a pizza delivered to a customer's house after overhearing her mention that she was hungry during a support call.
Stunts might make headlines, but the real way to establish lasting customer loyalty is to consistently make sure that you make your product users happy with every interaction.
CX as the last competitive battleground
The quality of your product will always be important. However, in a crowded market where multiple brands are competing for the same limited set of customers, CX may be of equal or even greater competitive importance.
A recent survey indicated that 65% of industry disruptors view CX as the primary competitive differentiator—an understanding that many consumers seem to share.
More than half of customers make a point of shopping from brands they feel loyal to. On the other hand, 62% will leave a brand for a competitor after a single poor customer experience—with an additional 15% ready to leave after two bad experiences.
As HP’s Doug Warner says, “In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember that your competitor is only one mouse click away.”
CX is as important for you as it is for the consumer
When properly executed, a good CX strategy can serve as a symbiotic connection between you and the consumer. They get what they want—a smooth, seamless experience—and you get:
- brand loyalty,
- organic marketing, and
- a vital, active feedback loop.
The internet gives consumers a lot of power. In a world where your biggest competitor is only a few keystrokes away, it’s more important than ever to give all your customers the experience they expect and deserve.