Customer experience - the CEO's critical asset - Business Works
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Customer experience - the CEO's critical asset

In the simplest of terms, customer service is the relationship between a brand and its consumers says Dennis Fois, CEO of Rapide. Customer experience, on the other hand, is more singular. It can't be measured by numbers or metrics alone - it is starting from the outside in; what a person feels about a brand and the emotions a company evokes.

Attitudes to customer service have changed massively in recent years as businesses have realised the importance of customer experience. The biggest transition has been the colossal shift in power from businesses to consumers. Changes in legislation have meant it's now easier than ever for customers to get out of contracts and to take their business elsewhere. The rise of the internet has meant shopping for alternatives is only a click away and the economic recession has left brands hungry for the attention of increasingly discerning customers. Add social media to the mix, where one tweet has the potential to change a thousand minds, and it's clear that today it is the consumer calling the shots.

More and more brands are realising the potential to differentiate their services by delivering an exceptional customer experience and creating a positive emotional bond with their customers. It's these bonds that mean brands can continue to thrive even in tough economic climates.

Some management have led by example, realising that prioritising CX at board level will filter down throughout the whole company and inspire staff to sit up and take note. But there is a big difference between talking about customer experience and actually doing it.

Put quite simply, customers are the difference between a company existing or not and it's for that reason that Customer Experience should be the number 1 priority for every board member across the country.

Here are my tips on how you can improve your customer experience:

  1. Make it easy and effortless for your customers to interact with you – This will drive up engagement and create a better connection between you and your customers.

  2. Let them tell you what matters to them, in their own words – Ensure customers have an always on way of sharing their feedback whenever they feel the need. For example, East Coast Trains [PDF] captured a whopping 3000 pieces of customer feedback by advertising an always-on text message short code in their carriages.

  3. Don't ask if you’re not going to act! - Asking for feedback and then failing to act on it is worse than not asking at all – listen, act and most importantly let the customer know.

  4. Be proactive, not reactive - Great customer experience is all about making it as easy as possible for customers to do business with you. By proactively keeping customers informed you'll reduce the need for them to get in touch for an update, improving their experience and business efficiency at the same time.

  5. Appreciate your customers and make them feel valued – We all know it's much more expensive to recruit new customers than to retain existing ones, so engage let them know you appreciate their custom.

  6. Steer Clear of lengthy surveys – True insight sits with the customers who didn't have time to take your survey. Instead of asking them to fill out tick box questionnaires long after service delivery ask them for their feedback in the moment. Mobile phones represent a unique opportunity to capture customer feedback in their own words, technology like Rant & Rave's sentiment engine can do the hard work of understanding every word in real-time so you’re free to act.

  7. Drive the customer experience agenda from the top – When great customer experience values are driven by the leaders of a business, employees feel empowered to treat their customers as their number one priority.

  8. Don't rely on social media to manage experience - If customers comment about you on social media – welcome the feedback, react with personality and solve their problem. But aim to resolve customer issues before they feel the need to go online. Social media should be a place to celebrate your Ravers, not to air your dirty laundry in public.

Dennis Fois is the CEO of Rapide, providers of the award-winning customer feedback solution, Rant & Rave. They will be holding an exclusive, FREE customer experience workshop specifically for Senior Directors and Executives at Scarman House, The University of Warwick on Thursday 20 March 2014 from 9am until 12pm. To join, register for free at

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