Senior business leaders now recognize that providing outstanding customer experiences is a powerful driver of revenue growth and a critical component of competitive advantage.
In the 2017 Digital Trends report by Econsultancy and Adobe, which was based on a global survey of more than 14,000 digital marketing and ecommerce professionals, respondents said that optimizing the customer experience is their most exciting opportunity in 2017, and that customer experience is the primary way their company will seek to differentiate itself over the next five years.
In a 2015 survey of 1,350 B2B executives by Accenture, 79% of respondents said that a differentiated customer experience has a direct impact on business results, and 78% believe it produces a competitive advantage.
Several national consulting firms, such as McKinsey, Accenture, and Forrester, have made customer experience management a core part of their practice. And several professional societies, such as the Customer Experience Professionals Association, have been established to support the customer experience management discipline.
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All of this demonstrates why customer experience (CX) management has become one of the most important and most widely-discussed topics in today’s business world. I would suggest that CX management is also likely to be one of the most significant and persistent challenges facing companies for the foreseeable future.
CX management is difficult to master for several reasons. First of all, it is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon. A recent article in the Journal of Marketing contains a detailed review of the academic literature relating to customer experience and provides an excellent introduction to the complexities of the customer experience “construct.” If you have doubts about the complexity, just consider the definition of CX offered by the authors: “Overall, we thus conclude that customer experience is a multidimensional construct focusing on a customer’s cognitive, emotional, behavioral, sensorial, and social responses to a firm’s offerings during the customer’s entire purchase journey.”
CX management is also difficult to master because no company can control all of the factors that produce customer experiences. At the most basic level, an “experience” has three components:
- The environment – This is the thing that is experienced. It can be a product or a service or a website or a call center (or for that matter, a theme park or a movie or dinner at a restaurant).
- The encounter – This is the interaction between an individual and a particular environment.
- The effect – This is the perception formed and held by the individual that results from his or her encounter with the environment.
Illustration courtesy of Ron Mader via Flickr CC.