CX Reality Check: Do you and your customers share the same perspective?
Our CallidusCloud CX team participated in a half-day training session recently, presented by ClearAction. The purpose of the training (which included everyone from sales and marketing to customer success and support) was to underscore the power of positive CX, the importance of building trust in customer relationships, and the resulting ROI of doing so. The session helped to get us on the same page regarding how we as a team understand and deliver service excellence to our customers.
One of the things that stood out to me was ClearAction’s definition of customer experience as “customers’ realities in selecting, getting and using a solution that enables a capability they want.”
I kept noodling on the notion of “reality,” which is a difficult and shifting noun to pin down. As the saying goes, “Perception is reality.” Or maybe, to liken it to a well-worn phrase about beauty, reality is “in the eye of the beholder.” Do customers see your business as you see it? Does one customer see it differently from the next? Would a buyer describe a transaction the same as the seller on the other side? In many cases it seems that customers and companies may not share the same reality.
Perhaps the reason ClearAction defines CX as they do is to remind companies that the only reality that matters is your customer’s reality. Wait, but what about employees’ realities? The short answer is yes, those perceptions matter big time, but while we at CallidusCloud CX are huge champions of elevating the employee experience and highlighting the impact that employees have on CX, monitoring and managing their realities is another post entirely. For this one, I’m going to focus only on the customer side of the CX equation.
CX Reality Check
As just mentioned, your business has two sides: the internal (employee) perspective and the external (customer) perspective. More often than not, these two perspectives do not line up. For instance, an older, yet still often-cited survey by Bain & Company revealed that 80% of companies claim to deliver a superior customer service, but in reality, only 8% of people think these same companies actually deliver superior customer service. Talk about a gap in perception.
Consider these recent stats from Martech Advisor.
“While nearly 60 percent of businesses believe their customer service representatives quickly respond to their customers every time, the majority of consumers disagree. In fact, only 27 percent of telco / broadband customers feel their provider meets this speed threshold.”
Another gap is revealed when you consider that only four percent of customers complain about bad customer service, according to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner. This gap leads too many companies to believe they’re doing a better job than they are. We’ve known for years in the “survey world” that complaints from customers should be received as gifts. Be grateful that the four percent took the time and effort to explain what went wrong! This gives you the golden opportunity to fix an issue that surely isn’t happening only to them. When you fix for one, you fix for many. And, don’t forget, the other 96 percent who didn’t complain likely went quietly off and spent their money elsewhere.
The good news is that if you work to share the same reality with your customers, you can in fact earn their trust even after a negative experience. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 56%-70% of customers who complain will do business with you again if you solve their problem. If you resolve it quickly and to their satisfaction, up to 96% will do business with you again and tell other people about the experience.
Know, don’t guess.
If you’re wondering if it’s possible to change the external perceptions of your company to align with your internal reality, the answer is yes, but it takes consistent strategies and practices. This doesn’t apply to anyone reading this blog, but if you frankly don’t care how your brand is perceived, you are exceedingly unlikely to make it as an organization. Especially in the digital age, knowing and managing what customers think and feel has never been more important.
“Perceptions are critical. A brand is made of hundreds of perceptions that create an emotional connection with consumers. While solid marketing directly effects many perceptions, consumers now have the tools to alter, undo, change and enhance brand perceptions from their point of view. Those dinner table conversations about a brand experience are no longer confined to the kitchen and carry more weight than ever before” (Forbes).
The number one, most effective way to know your customers is by asking them. You must survey customers to fully understand their perception of your brand. Capturing real customer feedback at key transaction points in the journey is the most reliable method for tuning into their reality. It doesn’t matter what the internal anecdotes are about how great your products / services are. All that matters is what customers perceive. Shift to align with that reality.