Customer experience research helps align brands and companies with the consumers they want to satisfy. However, the way consumers think about their purchases and the products/services they interact with is multi-faceted. For companies who conduct customer experience research, this is great news. Businesses that take the time and effort to learn about their customers stand to benefit in a myriad of ways, or more accurately, they gain the chance to shape customers’ thinking in a variety of manners:
Experience with the Brand
Through the process of customer experience research, companies can learn about customers’ experience with the brand. Customers share positive experiences and negative experiences, and when their feedback is aggregated, customer experience researchers can put together a collective perspective of the brand. With this feedback, companies can implement change and shape future customer experiences. This includes delivering quality customer service, helping guide purchase decisions and making sure the customer has a positive experience after a product/service is purchased.
Thoughts About the Brand
Customers’ collective experiences, mixed with marketing and things they hear, all shape their ultimate perceptions of the brand. When a current or potential customer thinks of your product or service, what comes to mind? Customer experience research affects not only their interactions with the brand, but the way marketing and messaging help create a distinct and valuable competitive advantage, which future customers will flock toward.
Expectations of Future Interactions
Future expectations can hit a tipping point: If a customer becomes mildly dissatisfied, they risk falling into a feedback loop of dissatisfaction. In other words, a past negative experience could make them irritable, so the next time something goes wrong with the same brand, they have less patience. The opposite is true as well: Customers will gloat about the merits of a brand based on one particularly positive experience. For example, if a brand gives them a free item or goes out of its way to resolve an issue, the customer may be so impressed that they will view every future interaction through rose-tinted glasses. These same individuals become passionate advocates for the brand, and tell their friends, family or colleagues about their positive experience.
Perception of Competitors
When a brand controls the way its products/services are experienced and perceived, it gives itself a leg up against competitors. For example, if a financial services customer has a great experience at their bank, they will look at competitors and assume the competitor can’t provide the same level of customer service as their current bank. On the other hand, if their current bank has terrible customer service, a competitor bank will be especially alluring to the dissatisfied customer.When a competitor’s marketing and advertising promises attentive and engaged customer service, the dissatisfied customer’s ears will perk up, and they become vulnerable to leave for greener pastures.
How the Product/Service Affects Their Lives and Sense of Self
The ultimate, and often overlooked, way a brand affects its customers is through their sense of self. When customers engage with a product or service, they’re looking for a significant way to better their own lives. This is especially true when they develop a long-term relationship with a brand involving multiple purchases. They typically look for reliability, quality and cost-effective options to help them live a better life, and ideally, a great brand will have the ability to truly make one facet of their lives better. Customers are humans with needs, and they look to trusted brands to deliver on those needs in a meaningful way. When they aggregate enough trusted brands – from financial services to paper towels – they reap the benefits of those relationships by living a better life for a lower cost.