The way we interact with customers directly affects the way they perceive us. When we are responsive, attentive, willing and able to provide the information or assistance they need, we increase the likelihood of providing a positive experience. When we are difficult to do business with, unable or unwilling to satisfy customers’ needs, indifferent, inept or rude, chances are the customer will have a bad experience. A satisfying customer experience is critical if we want to positively influence the way customers behave.

Positive Customer Experiences = Retention and Recurring Revenue

ServiceXRG finds that there is a direct correlation between a positive service experience and revenue – both direct and indirect.  Providing a satisfying customer experience is critical to positively influencing the way customers behave. Anything less — even if it’s just a neutral experience — is not sufficient to compel positive customer behavior.  Customers that have a positive experience are nearly four times more likely than customers with a neutral or negative experience to buy a product from the company that delivered the experience; five times more likely to recommend a company; and over five times more likely to renew an existing relationship (e.g., a service contract).

The Role of the Web

Web-based activities have become a significant factor in shaping customer experience and influencing the perceptions customers have about companies and their products.  The majority of on-line interactions are unassisted, where customers are encouraged to serve themselves.

As self-service transactions replace personal interactions, the ability to shape the customer experience depends on the on-line tools and content provided. Poor content or an unnavigable site quickly undermines a business’s ability to deliver a positive experience.

There is a profound difference between personal interactions and self-service transactions. The factors that influence the customer experience in personal interactions — an agent’s listening skills, empathy, knowledge, etc. — are replaced by an overriding factor: whether the customer is able to quickly find relevant information. In our effort to encourage customers to serve themselves, we have removed the human factor from the on-line experience. The burden for delivering a positive experience now lies with the tools and content we offer and their relevance in helping customers achieve their objectives.

High Stakes

On-line services provide a means for companies to continue to engage with their customers in a low-cost manner. However, self-service is not simply a means to save money: Each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce the relationship and sustain customer loyalty. Though there’s a significant temptation to undertake web-based services as a low-cost alternative to customer engagement through interactive channels, it must not come at the expense of delivering an experience that strengthens relationships with customers.

Companies have a lot at stake when they move interactions to the web.  Once on-line, their customers are just one Google search away from a variety of alternative sources of information and resources to help them satisfy their needs. Brand awareness and affinity can be undermined in an instant. Creating a positive customer experience has never been more important.  It’s also never been more challenging.

When customers actively seek assistance technology vendors are presented with an opportunity to satisfy the customer’s needs.  This in turn creates an opportunity to positively influence the customer’s perception of the technology vendor helping to create satisfied and loyal customers.  The alternative is that when a customer that needs help but does not get it, can be left with an issue that inhibits their ability to use the vendor’s product.  This lack of service can potentially diminish customers’ perception of that vendor.