customer satisfaction

Customer Experience Is the New Brand Differentiator


Ever wonder why more point-of-sale clerks ask you how your day is going and whether you found everything you were looking for?  They are carrying out an intentional strategy of engaging consumers in service of improving the “customer experience”.

Improving the customer experience – or CX, as it is called in marketing lingo – has become the new battlefield to differentiate a brand from competition and increase retention, satisfaction and revenue. Business leaders say as much as two-thirds of their competitive edge is based on the experience they deliver to customers in-store and online.

As a consequence, marketing dollars have shifted to CX improvements, based on a more attentive analysis of customer feedback to see if expectations are being met or exceeded – and, if not, to find out why, according to a Gartner survey. An intimate understanding of consumer expectations and the customer journey is critical to guiding strategic decisions at all levels of an organization. 

In the past, product value and service quality dominated consumer decision-making. That may be changing. Some 86 percent of buyers surveyed said they would pay more for a better customer experience on items such as coffee, sports tickets, airline seats and car insurance. Sustained customer satisfaction can lead to fierce consumer loyalty.

CX can extend from virtual reality tours for homebuyers to a good experience on a mobile device. Data indicates there will be nearly 28 billion more queries on mobile devices than desktop computers. Customers like to search for information themselves, so it is important to make the path easy, including mobile search and purchase.

Fifty percent of customers value finding and purchasing what they want on their own. Seventy percent expect a brand’s website should allow for self-service. Some of those queries will occur in-store. Impediments to positive in-store or online consumer engagement include difficult navigation, unhelpful search results, slow load times and sites that aren’t searchable.

Customer frustration with their experience can lead to bad word-of-mouth. One study indicates 13 percent of unhappy customers will share their dissatisfaction with 15 or more people, while 72 percent of customers will share a positive customer experience with six or more friends and family members. One in three customers will desert a brand after a bad experience. 

The bottom line is that if you aren’t measuring your customer satisfaction and investing in your customer experience, your bottom line will suffer.

[Many of the statistics cited in this blog came from a post titled, “37 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2019” by Toma Kulbyté and published by SuperOffice.]


Health Care Embraces Panel Research

Hospitals and health systems are embracing new ways to improve patient engagement and communication by using panel-based research techniques.

The way people communicate is changing rapidly. Almost all households have access to the Internet. Smartphone and tablet use is widespread. Patients want to communicate with service organizations they trust and they want to do it at times that are convenient for them. Panel research allows this to happen.

Panel research uses web-based research tools. Customers are invited by email to participate in online surveys. Participants are asked if they want to continue to participate in future research. Typically, 60 to 70 percent say yes. This group forms the panel for future research.

Frontline Research

Some of the best insight into your customers can come from your frontline workers. But you have to ask.Bosses love to bring in experts, but sometimes the best experts are working on the front lines of your own business.

There is nothing wrong with tapping outside expertise. But it isn't a substitute for getting the gritty reality that employees can provide from their experience dealing directly with your customers.

From the corner office, you may conclude you have a sales force problem. You drag in an expert to agree with you. But why not ask your customers what they think. You may discover they love their sales rep, but can't get your product delivered on time — a very different problem with a very different solution.

Usually for the price you pay an outside expert, you can undertake some basic research to get to the bottom of your problems. It could take the form of one-on-one interviews or a customer satisfaction survey. Maybe, you could call some of your best customers and ask for their candid personal assessment.

The easiest and most reliable research technique — and often the cheapest — is to check in regularly with the men and women on your team who deal directly with your customers. These are the people whose views will come closest to reflecting the views of customers. Listen to them and encourage them to share with you what they know.

The Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score is a simple research technique that comes as close as you can get to a silver bullet.
CFM has used this clever technique to assess customer views on products, services and even professional association memberships. Our clients like the Net Promoter Score because it works. Here is what they say about the Net Promoter Score:

•     It is easy to understand;
•    Provides insights on what customers are thinking and saying about products and services;
•    Provides an excellent measurement of customer satisfaction;
•    Helps assess the most important product and brand characteristics;
•    Enables managers to focus on operational deficiencies;
•    Highlights themes that marketing, advertising and PR can use for promotion; and
•    Enables the entire organization to manage to strengths.

Created by the consulting firm Bain and Associates (Read: The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld), the Net Promoter Score measures how likely customers are to recommend a product or service using a zero to 10 scale.

Facebook Dominates, But May Not Satisfy

Facebook is still king of the social media universe, but its users are grumpy, which could open a door for a challenger that provides better customer satisfaction.Customer satisfaction ratings for Facebook continue to lag, which might afford an opening for a competitor such as Google+, according to survey results released last week by ForeSee Results.

"The social media market is primed for a new player that allows users to connect with friends," ForeSee Results predicts, based on customer experience analytics used in its American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). "Despite a small improvement this year, Facebook is the lowest-socring site, not only in the social media category, but of all measured companies in this report."

Wikipedia ranks highest among social media sites at 78, with YouTube at 74 as runner-up. Facebook's score is 66.

"An existing dominance of market share like Facebook," says ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed, "is no longer a safety net for a company that is not providing a superior customer experience." Noting Facebook's even worse rating last year, Freed said some customers may be dissatisfied with the site's evolution as a commercial platform.

Tellingly, MySpace was dropped from the survey because of too few users. Google+ wasn't scored because it was just introduced.

Google scores a survey-topping 83 in the search engine and portal category. Bing follows closely behind with a score of 82, an impressive 7-point jump over last year.

"Last year, Google's customer satisfaction score was three points better than Bing's," Freed notes. "This year, that gap narrows to one point. Bing is showing it can challenge Google in terms of revenue, market share and the customer experience."

News websites also are ranked and comes out on top with a score of 82. ABCNews,com is next with a score of 77 and debuts with a bottom-of-the-rung 69. dropped four points this year to a score of 73.