By Toma Kulbyte

Customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses and 2021 has been no different so far. But, why are so many companies focusing on the customer experience and what happens to companies that choose to ignore it?

Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up with their increasing demands, your customers will leave you.

Cross-device shopping via a wide range of channels has made it difficult for companies to maintain consistency. Processes and technologies need to change in order to provide a consistent experience across all platforms. It wasn’t too long ago when every business claimed that the key to winning customers was in the quality of the product or service they deliver.

But, things have changed. Now, an even more important success factor has appeared.

Providing the best customer experience
We recently asked 1,920 business professionals to share their number one priority for the next 5 years. The result: Customer experience (or CX) came in first (beating product and pricing).

It’s no surprise that customer experience is the number one priority. The Temkin Group found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience. For SaaS companies in particular, they can expect to increase revenue by $1 billion.

That’s right. Investing in CX initiatives has the potential to double your revenue within 36 months. So, where is this revenue growth coming from? The customer’s wallet. A good customer experience means your customers will spend more. In fact, 86 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. The more expensive the item, the more they are willing to pay, according to a research from PWC. For example, customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13 percent (and as high as 18 percent) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great customer experience.

CX also influences on-the-spot purchasing, too, since 49 percent of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience. But the most convincing reason why CX has become so important is this: A Walker study found that at the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

If CX is to play an important part in your 2021 plans (and it should), use this article to stay ahead of the top customer experience statistics in the upcoming year. At SuperOffice, we’ve helped thousands of companies use sales, marketing and customer service to improve the customer experience. This gives us access to data and insight into how consumers feel about the experience they receive — which we’ll be sharing in this report (And unlike other lists, these CX stats are completely up to date).

What is customer experience?
Customer experience is your customers’ perception of how your company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviours, and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty.

In other words — if they like you and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you for a long time and recommend you to others. So, it’s easy to see why it’s important for so many companies to focus on CX. But, in order for your customers to like you, you need to get to know them. You need to invest in the long-term relationship (also known as relationship marketing), because when you understand who they are, you are able to deliver a personalized experience across the entire customer journey. But gaining this in-depth knowledge about customers isn’t something that just happens. You need to collect customer data (i.e. Voice of Customer data) and bring out valuable insights from that data with speed and precision.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in — improving the experience for your customers has been proven (time and time again) to increase retention, satisfaction and revenue.

So, what can you do to create a positive customer experience? Let’s take a look at the five most important trends.

1. Customer experience is the new battlefield
No one wants to do business with a company that treats you poorly. And how you feel after an interaction with a customer service center has a huge impact on your future purchase decisions. A good interaction keeps you happy and satisfied, while a poor interaction could lead to you stop doing business with that company again. It’s because of these extremes why 88 percent of companies now prioritize customer experience in their contact centers. Yes, it’s that important. And it’s easy to see why. If a customer is choosing to do business based on CX, then that’s where you have to stand out.

In fact, more than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience — up from only 36 percent in 2010! Therefore, if you want your customers to have a positive experience, you have to invest in it. It makes sense, right?

The sad news is that less than half of all organizations will be investing in the customer experience next year. In fact, our own research found that only 44 percent will increase the investment in their CX initiatives.

But if you are investing in CX, where do you begin? According to Gartner’s research, companies that successfully implement customer experience projects begin by focusing on how they collect and analyze customer feedback. Whether you use surveys, web forms, or Net Promoter Score (NPS) programs, read through their comments, suggestions and opinions to see what they expect from you. Then, invest in those projects to meet their expectations.

2. The importance of multi-channel servicing will increase
Companies interact with their customers across multiple channels, which can be through forms on their website, live chat, social media and more. However, while customers may be positive and accept different service levels from different channels, they also expect that the communication remains consistent. Are you providing a consistent experience across all channels, both online and offline?

It can be challenging, but the gold standard here is IKEA. If you visit any IKEA store around the world, you will get the same experience. IKEA invests heavily into customer experience. This year alone, they’ve opened more stores, invested in its home delivery network and launched a brand new app — all to the benefit of their customer.

And the pay off has been huge. Not only is IKEA one of the most beloved companies in the world, but their annual revenue has now reached more than $40 billion worldwide. And it’s this level of execution and result that is driving more companies to invest in the omnichannel experience. In fact, in their 2020 report, PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20 percent to more than 80 percent.

Adding to this, Adobe recently found that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies enjoy a 10 percent Y-O-Y growth, a 10 percent increase in average order value and a 25 percent increase in close rates. It sounds like a no brainer to invest in CX, right?

3. Mobile customer experience is priority
When it comes to providing a positive experience across different channels, mobile customer service is expected to soar. The reason is simple — a bad mobile experience can do serious damage to your brand. For example, 57 percent of customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile. And if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, 50 percent of customers will stop visiting it, even if they like the business.

By not providing a positive mobile experience, you’re putting business growth in jeopardy, as the graphic below shows. It’s no longer the question whether the mobile experience is important or not. We know it is. According to Stat Counter, 52 percent of all internet traffic now comes from mobile, with desktop usage on a trending decline.

So it comes as no surprise why 84 percent of companies who claim to be customer-centric are now focusing on the mobile customer experience. However, for companies that aren’t, they’ve been slow to adapt to this trend — especially when it comes to customer support — as an overwhelming 90 percent of customers report having a poor experience when seeking customer support on mobile devices. The most common complaints being navigation, site search and load times.

There is a huge gap that needs to be taken seriously. If your customers cannot navigate your website with ease and find what they are looking for, then you frustrate them. And you lose them.

4. Customer frustration will lead to churn
According to Esteban Kolsky, 72 percent of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. On the other hand, if a customer is not happy, 13 percent of them will share their experience with 15 or even more. The challenge here lies in the fact that, in most cases, customers don’t tell you they’re unhappy. In fact, only one in 26 unhappy customers actually complain. The rest, they just leave, Kolsky claims.

For many companies, the absence of negative feedback is a sign of satisfaction. But, as the research shows, this might not be the case. Your customers may not be happy, or worse, they’re sharing their bad experiences with others.

Customer expectations are at an all-time high and it’s a tough time for companies to meet and exceed them. Even if you provide a positive customer experience nine out of 10 times, that one time you do not could be fatal.

In their future of CX report, PwC surveyed 15,000 consumers and found that one in three customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92 percent would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.

What constitutes as a bad experience? Sometimes, it’s as simple as poor follow-up. Our own research found that very few companies follow up with their customers. Put simply, you can avoid many of these poor experiences by sending a follow-up email.

5. Self-service help will be the first choice
In 2021, companies should ensure that customers are able to find answers to their questions using a wide-range of self-service options. Today, 67 percent of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. Furthermore, 91 percent of customers would use an online knowledge base, if it were available and tailored to their needs. Customers are willing to find the answers themselves. So much so, that by 2030, Gartner estimates that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.

To handle this demand, companies are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI). In 2019, 25 percent of all customer interactions were automated through AI and machine learning. With 90 percent of companies now planning to deploy AI within three years, this number is expected to grow to 40 percent by 2023.

In the short-term, you need to make sure that when a customer has a problem, the right tools are available to them, so they can solve it, themselves. In the long-term, you need to think about how AI and technology can help you improve customer experience.

With nine out of 10 businesses competing mainly on customer experience, it’s the organizations that take customer experience seriously that will stand out from the noise and win loyal customers over. One thing is for sure, in order to deliver a positive experience you have to know your customers better than ever before. This means creating complete customer profiles that help you understand and measure your customers’ behaviour at every touch point, and across multiple channels. (One way to handle this is by using a CRM.)

Once you know your customers well enough, you can use that knowledge to personalize every interaction. Customers these days have more power and choices than ever before. Thus, you are responsible for understanding and acknowledging their needs.

If you make sure their interaction with your company is smooth, pleasant and continuously improving, you will drive brand loyalty. If not, you’ll give your competitors the best gift you can — your customers.

What is your favourite customer experience trend? Are there any important customer experience statistics we missed?

If you got something valuable from these customer experience statistics, thank the companies that did the research and feel free to look me up to chat at length.

Toma Kulbyte is a content specialist at SuperOffice. Previously a Communications Manager and graduate from the University of Oslo, Toma likes to write about all things CRM.

Previous post

Brand Stewardship: An Interview with David Kincaid, Founder and Managing Partner of Level5 Strategy

Next post

A Troubling Engagement Capacity Gap Emerges