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Customer Experience is Competitive Differentiation

The competitive environment is going to remain fierce. It might seem as if cutting prices, introducing a new product and/or adding features to existing products and services are the keys to staying competitive. Before we can assess whether you should do any of these, our question back to you is, “What is your sustainable competitive advantage?”

This compelling advantage is something that is different about your company/product/service that is meaningful to the target. It answers the question of “Why should customers buy from you instead of from your competitors?” Or put another way, what meaningful value are you really providing.

In our work with customers, we have found that BEFORE deciding to add another product or service to the portfolio, upgrade an existing product or develop a new pricing strategy, the most fundamental effort they need to make is to determine how they deliver real customer value that also creates true differentiation. True differentiation is something that is both sustainable and difficult to replicate. This type of thinking will require you to shift your perspective from being product-centric to being driven by customer-value.

Customer experience now plays a large role in the customer value equation. As a result, customer experience and service are critical to a sustainable competitive advantage. A Gartner Customer Experience (CX) study declares that “Customer experience  is the new marketing battlefront. More than two-thirds of marketers responsible say their companies compete mostly on the basis of CX And in two years’ time, 81% say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.” A study by VisionCritical claims that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product quality as the key brand differentiator. Are you ready for experience to be your differentiatior?

Work by the Customer Experience Professionals Association has found that improvements in customer experience lead to improvements in business performance. Customer experience entails more than conducting customer satisfaction and/or loyalty studies.  Organizations focused on customer experience improvements have dedicated resources and people facilitating and driving change across the organization.

How Successful Companies Improve Customer Experience

We have found that companies who employ these 8 tips are more successful in their customer experience efforts:

  1. Have an executive sponsor from the C-Suite
  2. Invest in the data, systems, and processes to support customer experience measurement, management and improvement
  3. Establish an organizational structure and have a team focused on guiding the organization on that track
  4. Develop specific strategies for addressing customer experience
  5. Establish listening posts and other vehicles to monitor and report on all customer feedback
  6. Set performance targets and metrics for customer on-boarding and issue resolution
  7. Train all employees on how to engage with customers by phone, online, in-person
  8. Design and implement vehicles to deliver a consistent experience across channels

How to Make Service and Experience Your Differentiators

The American Customer Satisfaction Index has consistently revealed American business has not improved service delivery over the past decade. This finding clearly reflects that most companies, while understanding the value of service, are not delivering on this powerful means of differentiation.

Service is a key ingredient to customer experience. The quality of both is essential to achieving sustainable differentiation and higher margins. Many organizations realize the importance of providing a good experience and good service, but most don’t grasp that great service delivery requires a tenacious focus on execution and the human side of the equation. Consider how much the focus in Marketing today is on all things digital and online. The true differentiator is in the human side of the experience.

That means you need to have marketers who can do 4 things well:

  1. Understand and explicitly define and communicate what customers want
  2. Measure how well you deliver on customer requirements across the entire customer life cycle
  3. Engage with prospects and customers across all mediums of communication and who are suited to providing good service and solving problems
  4. Deploy and use outstanding systems and processes to improve the customer experience
4 capabilities to make customer experience your competitive differentiator

Is Your Customer Experience a Competitive Differentiator?

How well your organization delivers on across all aspects of customer experience and employ the 8 tips will impact your position in the market and how well your products, services and brands stack up against your competitors. These capabilities and guidelines will put on the path to making customer experience an integral part of the value you deliver. How capable is your Marketing organization at delivering on these? If you don’t feel your team earns high marks on all of these, we should schedule a call sooner than later.

 

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