With all the options available to consumers, customer experience is a top differentiating factor between businesses.

The great entrepreneur, Vanilla Ice, once said, "Stop, collaborate, and listen". In today’s business environment, that sage advice can elaborate to: stop and evaluate your current state, collaborate with experts, and listen to your customers.

Business leaders who champion customer-centric business models have stopped, collaborated and listened. And in today’s digital age, being customer-centric requires a business model to effectively take advantage of current technologies to meet customer expectations.

However, as Steve Jobs said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology.” Hence, a company’s business model should first and foremost orbit around the customer experience (CX), addressing:

The customer needs and wants The current state of the CX How the customer’s journey can improve

What is customer experience and why does it matter?

The CX is the new battleground for brand loyalty and the true differentiating factor for companies. It can be defined as the customer perception of an organization and how seamless—or frustrating—that interaction is. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon said it this way:“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

Beyond perception, CX is about delivering an expected outcome, and while it looks different for each company, common themes are:  

Response time Overall customer satisfaction Ability to obtain sought out information effortlessly

A customer experience-centric model considers more than just key customer-company touchpoints; instead, the model considers the entire Omni-channel journey from the customer’s perspective.

There are three ways to measure and improve your customer’s experience:

Net Promoter Score (NPS) NPS® measures customer experience and predicts business growth (i.e. 0-10 scale on how likely customers would recommend a business to a friend). Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) CSAT measures how products and services meet or surpass customer expectations. A CSAT score is the sum of respondents answering between “satisfied” and “very satisfied”. Customer Effort Score (CES) CES, measures CX satisfaction with one single question (i.e. the company made it easy to handle an issue).

Mature CX organizations monitor and understand the voice of the customer through these metrics.

Why should business leaders get behind the CX movement?

Forrester research found 71 percent of business and technology decision makers say that improving CX is a high priority in the next 12 months. But why?

“There is only one boss—the customer,” Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart, once said. “And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” 

Brand loyalty is not what it was 20-30 years ago. A customer’s experience positively correlates to brand loyalty, and it is much more important because of the ease of switching service providers or ordering a product from Amazon. According to the Temkin Group, 86 percent of those who received excellent CX were likely to repurchase from that company, compared to only 13 percent of those who had a very poor CX.  

The trend of the increasing purchasing ease will continue as will customer-first business models delivering effortless experiences. The remaining question is what businesses will stop and evaluate their current states, collaborate with experts, and listen to their customers?

Nick Glimsdahl is a Client Enablement Director at VDS. VDS has been a visionary leader in customer experience technology integration for 30 years, with a core purpose to create effortless interactions between their customers and their customers' customers. Email at nglimsdahl@govds.com