Today’s customers clearly expect great experiences. But most of their expectations are focused on a few critical interactions. What most customers really want is fast and responsive service that addresses their needs, solves their problems, or makes their lives easier.

A recent study by the CMO Council and SAP Hybris provides several important insights regarding the kinds of customer experiences that consumers are really looking for. This research consisted of a survey of more than 2,000 consumers in the United States, Europe, and Canada. Although this study focused on consumers, it’s likely that many of the findings are applicable to business buyers.

The CMO Council research revealed that consumers’ expectations are high, but it also found that consumers tend to be fairly utilitarian when it comes to customer experience. What they really want from companies is fast and responsive service.

When the study participants were asked to identify the attributes of an exceptional customer experience, the top three choices were:

  1. “Fast response times to my needs and issues” (52% of survey respondents)
  2. “Knowledgeable staff ready to assist wherever and whenever I need it” (47%)
  3. “Rewards for my loyalty and recognition of how long I have been a customer” (42%)
It’s equally important to see what survey respondents put at the bottom of their list of important attributes:
  • “Always-on automated service” (8% of respondents)
  • “Brand-developed social communities to connect with other customers” (9%)
  • “Multiple touchpoints that add value to my experience” (10%)
  • “Recognizing my history with the brand at every touchpoint” (12%)
Survey respondents also identified their major customer experience frustrations:
  • 36% are angry about not being treated like the loyal customers they are
  • 33% said slow service or dealing with reps that know nothing about past history or purchases
  • 27% said not being able to reach someone who can actually help
The CMO Council also found that most consumers are willing to share some personal data with companies so long as they receive value in exchange. And consumers are clear about what constitutes value. They want something that saves them money (77% of respondents), saves them time (49%), or makes their life easier (47%). What they don’t value is something that connects them with other customers (5%), makes them feel happy (9%), or “celebrates” them (13%).
Overall, the findings of this research indicate that significant opportunities exist to improve customer experience by focusing on a relatively small number of critical customer interactions. Those basic “moments that matter” have a disproportionate impact on how customers feel about their experience.
Image courtesy of Ricardo Mangual via Flickr CC.

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