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Most consumers don’t wake up in the morning and proclaim they’re loyal to a brand. First, that brand needs to meet the core needs of the customer. And the way to a consumer’s heart is through a positive customer experience (CX).
No matter the industry or geography, all companies are beginning to truly understand the importance of offering exceptional experiences. In fact, nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed for “The connected customer experience” report say a company is only as good as its customer service.
One of the first steps in crafting that exceptional experience is to understand the often-complex interrelations between a customer’s experiences, feelings, emotions and resulting behaviors.
The CX Spectrum is a framework designed to give you a holistic understanding of how the CX ecosystem works. Let’s break it down into six core components: needs, expectations, wants, preferences, personalization and empathy.
Needs are intrinsic in nature and represent the essential requirements of the customer. For instance, the needs of a cell phone customer could be reliable network coverage and an affordable monthly bill.
If the provider fails to meet these core needs, the customer becomes disappointed with the brand and likely will look for a company that can meet their needs. They also might discourage friends or family from using the company because they had a poor experience.
But when the company meets those needs, it creates customer satisfaction with the brand. And that’s the start point for building customer loyalty.
If the brand passes the customer’s needs “test,” expectations about that brand start to build in the customer’s mind. Performance against these expectations determines how their target customers would behave.
For example, the first thing that comes into the customer’s mind is whether the brand can fulfill some of their core wants. But expectations are often personal and vary from customer to customer. Some customers might expect a brand to be punctual while others are looking for a company that’s environmentally friendly, socially responsible, innovative or other factors.
Expectations can make the customers believe that what they desire or want is what they need. When customer expectations are met at this stage, the customer is getting closer to making a purchasing decision.
Customer wants could stem from their emotional needs. To use the cell phone user example again, that customer might want the latest iPhone, a smartwatch and a monthly plan with unlimited data. But not all customers are created equal.
For some, it’s about having an emotional connection and belonging with a brand — feeling that the brand cared for them, acted human, and delivered a service that’s empathetic and authentic. Essentially, wants are a combination of a customer’s intrinsic needs and their expectations.
At this stage, a customer would make the purchase.
Customer preferences are factors that customers expect and want brands to consider when delivering goods and services to them. Customer preferences could be as simple as wanting to use self-service for certain transactions, opting out of marketing emails, receiving a confirmation email or a receipt of payment, or notification emails for important communications and interactions.
The more preferences a brand can cater to, the more personalized the customer experience they deliver. At this stage, the customer has become comfortable with the service and feels at home.
Imagine interacting with your personal banker who has known you for years. That person has insights into your portfolio and can empathize with your financial goals and plans.
Now think about the experiences delivered by the owner of the local corner shop you might have visited as a child. That store owner knows you and your family, what newspaper your father reads, and when you might be running low on certain daily staples. I know some of these experiences are a thing of the past for most of us; however, I witness these highly humanized and personalized interactions when I visit my mother in Pakistan.
There’s a milkman who’s been delivering milk for years and knows exactly how much milk she needs. And he’ll proactively deliver more milk if he notices guests in the house. Similarly, the vegetable and fruit men won’t knock on her door daily; they know exactly when she’s running low on those items.
Today, technology tries to play these roles with internet of things (IoT) sensors that are embedded within your refrigerator to proactively order milk when you’re running low. Or your printer might order more ink when it’s running low on ink.
Most data-driven customer-obsessed organizations use similar principles to enable personalization for their customers at a mass scale. And they do this by considering their customers’ needs, expectations wants and preferences. At this stage, the brand has captured a customer’s mind, but their relationship with the brand is still somewhat transactional.
Personalization, delivered for the sake of personalization, is ineffective if it isn’t empathetic. Empathy is the crucial ingredient for delivering exceptional experiences that are highly engaging, memorable and magical. Essentially, if personalization is a body, empathy is its soul.
Empathy is deeply rooted in customer understanding and human emotions. And it’s the key driver for building sustainable customer trust, loyalty and advocacy. In fact, 80% of consumers will recommend and buy more, more often, from companies that consistently deliver personalized experiences and interactions.
Essentially, when brands deliver empathetic experiences — they aim for the customer’s heart and capture their imagination. And at this stage, their relationship is emotional.
We’ve covered some of the essentials of the psychology behind the CX Spectrum. In my next blog, I’ll outline what brands need to do to drive sustainable empathetic, trustworthy, and loyal customer relations now — and into the future.
Take our quick online assessment to see how your company ranks in offering empathetic customer experiences. Then discover how Genesys Strategic Business Consulting can help you deliver the personalized, empathetic experiences that build brand loyalty.
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