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“You have got to start with the customer experience and then work your way back towards the technology, not the other way around”

Steve Jobs

Customer experience, also known as CX, is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery. Cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service. Companies have long emphasized touchpoints- the many critical moments when customers interact with the organization and its offerings on their way to purchase and after.

However the narrow focus on maximizing satisfaction at those moments can create a distorted picture, suggesting that customers are happier with the company than they really are. It also diverts attention from bigger- and more important picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey. In order to get the entire picture, we must look at the involvement at different levels, such as rational, emotional, sensorial and physical. Customers respond diversely to direct and indirect contact with a company. Direct contact usually occurs when the purchase or use initiated by the customer. Indirect contact often involves advertising, news reports, unplanned encounters with sales representatives, word-of- mouth recommendations or criticisms.

Think about a routine service event- a product query, from the point of view of both the company and the customer. The company may receive millions of phone calls about the product and must handle each one well. However, if asked about the experience months after the fact, a customer would never describe such a call as simply a “product question”. Understanding the context of the call is key. A customer might have been trying to ensure uninterrupted service after moving, make sense of the renewal options at the end of a contract, or fix a nagging technical problem. A company that manages complete journeys would not only do its best with the individual transaction but also seek to understand the broader reasons for the call, address the root causes, and create feedback loops to continuously improve interactions upstream and downstream from the call.

The advent of social media and real-time interactive feedback via the internet allows every customer to build and expect a relationship with your business, rather than just touchpoints. Yet business executives are still learning what that means, in terms of hard business practices. Brands like Facebook, Uber and Nike have been able to incorporate the CX aspect of business into their daily operations. This is shown by the sheer number of returning customers they get. At the end of the day, they product you are offering tends to remain the same. It’s the customer experience that can be tweaked and changed to make the product look more attractive.

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