Maybe this customer-centric thing is starting to sink in.  I’m encouraged by the results of a study put out by the eConsultancy folks in conjunction with SDL which explores how retailers are addressing customer experience, or CX for short.  From the results it seems that many retailers have figured out that price is just one factor in the purchase decision and that it is outweighed these days by how customers interact with the brand.  In fact, the report states that providing an exceptional customer experience is the single most important strategic choice that retailers can make now and in the years ahead. 89% of the retailers surveyed for this report agreed or strongly agreed to the statement “Our customer experience is our brand.”  It’s a good point for any business, retail-based or not.

Think about it.  A quick visit to a search engine can usually produce pricing comparisons but that same search engine tells you little or nothing about how the customer is treated.  If you’re researching a product, how complete and truthful are the product listings?  If there is a problem with your order or you have a question as you purchase, how helpful and responsive is the customer service?

Every business (even mine!) has customers of some sort.  Their experience with you begins with their first encounter: maybe your website, maybe some content you’ve issued, maybe the response to a form they filled out or maybe someone answering a telephone enquiry.  There is one thing I found surprising in the study which is that only 12% said “company culture” is a barrier to successful customer experience management.  If that’s true it’s incredibly encouraging and represents a big shift.  I’m not sure I believe it however.  Many companies still put way too much emphasis on pushing merchandise that provides the highest margins or which is aging over the needs and wants of the customer.

If your product has been commoditized (read that as “if your primary selling point is price”) than you are going to have a hard time competing from my perspective.  A great customer experience differentiates your brand.  I’m glad to see that way more folks are agreeing with that and investing in that differentiation.  Is that something you’re doing?

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