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What Is Customer Experience?

Customer experience (CX) refers to how a company engages with its customers across every aspect of the customer journey―from marketing to sales to service and every point in between. It’s the sum total of all interactions a customer has with a brand. However, the most important thing for you to know when it comes to your customers’ experience is what they feel about it. You have important decisions to make at every touchpoint on the customer journey, and those decisions can influence how your customers view your brand and how successful your business will be as a result.

Why Does CX Matter?

As products become increasingly commoditized, customers are differentiating more over experiences with the company and the brand and less over specific product features and functions. Customers want to feel connected to their favorite brands and that their brands know them. In fact, the customer experience has become the leading competitive differentiator. To win in this environment, organizations must ensure that their CX initiatives are able to deliver personalized, pleasing interactions at every customer touchpoint.

86% of companies consider customer experience to be the new competitive battlefield.

Your customers’ interactions with you across any and all touchpoints have a cumulative effect on your customers’ overall perception and impression of your brand. That makes the customer experience truly invaluable to your business’s success. Here are some of the factors that can make a big difference in customers’ opinions of your company.

  • Do your marketing campaigns speak to their wants and needs?
  • Is your ecommerce site easy to navigate?
  • Does it provide assistance all along the way, such as shopping cart reminders?
  • How well are you serving your B2B or B2C customers during the sales and service processes?
  • Is all your customer information readily accessible to the people and systems that need it, so customers don’t have to keep updating you on who they are or what interactions they’ve already had with you?

The degree to which customers feel you understand them has a strong influence over their level of satisfaction―and their decision to do business with you. If you get CX right, you’ll gain a competitive advantage.


Is Customer Service the Same as Customer Experience? Customer service is the act of providing assistance or support to customers. It’s an aspect of the customer experience, but not the totality of it.

The Difference Between a Positive and Negative Customer Experience

A positive customer experience is one where the customer walks away from every touchpoint or interaction with your brand feeling happy and satisfied. Positive customer experiences include well-targeted marketing campaigns, easy-to-purchase-from ecommerce sites, simplified buying experiences, self-service options, and the ability to connect with your brand anytime, anywhere, through any device. Customers expect brands to offer multiple channels for engagement. They want brands to anticipate their needs. And they want their loyalty rewarded through useful and relevant loyalty programs.

Data plays a crucial role in CX outcomes. To provide a great customer experience, you need to connect your data and intelligence across all of your systems, from the front office to the back office. This enables you to deliver a seamless, connected experience to every customer, in a personalized way, across all customer touchpoints.

A negative customer experience is one that leaves the customer feeling unhappy, disappointed, or even frustrated with their interactions with your brand. Negative customer experiences often stem from customers’ perceptions that the brand doesn’t know them and their needs at all (or doesn’t care), or that the brand is difficult to do business with. These perceptions can develop in response to factors such as

  • Difficult-to-navigate websites
  • Products that don’t meet expectations
  • Sluggish service request resolution
  • Irrelevant marketing outreach

In an increasingly personalized world, standardized customer interactions are extremely off-putting for customers―especially when companies are able to acquire a wealth of information about each of their customers. In the connected, data-driven world, there’s no excuse for a disconnect between brands and customers. Negative customer experience can result when the service team is unaware of a customer’s previous interactions with the company, when the company doesn’t have a customer’s correct information, or when personalization is missing entirely.

How CX Impacts Your Business

How customers experience your brand has a direct effect on your bottom line. It is exponentially more costly to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. Therefore, positive customer experiences are vital to your success. Great customer experiences can lead to incremental growth opportunities through cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, as well as through customer advocacy that brings new customers to the business.

A series of negative customer experiences can lead to a business decline and an increase in customer churn. In the digital world, this can happen very quickly. Social media and feedback or review sites like Yelp make it very easy for customers to widely share their experiences. Though some customers do a good job of providing positive reviews about the brands they like, it’s common knowledge that bad news travels fast. Customers are much more likely to jump online with a complaint than a compliment, and that complaint can go viral to millions of people in an instant. With this kind of power, customers essentially own your brand’s fate.

Some companies have long known that experiences with the brand can be more important than the products themselves and have capitalized on that. Apple and Starbucks provide good examples of putting customer experience first. These companies realize that there are many competitors who could potentially match or exceed their product offerings, but they’ve chosen to differentiate based on providing an experience that’s very appealing to customers―so they continue to lead their markets.

Stellar customer experiences lead to increased customer loyalty, retention, and ultimately, customer advocacy. Personalized, connected customer experiences build brand loyalty, and that has a quantifiable financial outcome. All parts of the customer experience matter, and it is becoming a leading differentiator in most industries.

The Significance of the Digital Customer Journey

Digitization has completely upended the traditional customer journey model. Customers are now more in control than ever. For example, digital capabilities and the personalization that they enable―and that customers expect―require brands to understand purchase history and offer the right products and services at the appropriate time. Brands that want to please customers must also offer self-service options that allow customers to quickly and easily purchase products and services and resolve issues.

Savvy brands understand the importance of “digital body language” and the insights they can glean from a customer’s online activity―which allow these companies to provide customers with a personalized and relevant digital experience. Offering a user-friendly, connected ecosystem that allows customers to enter at any point and receive a tailored and seamless experience will leave customers with a great impression of your brand.

What Is Smarter CX and Why Is It important?

Smarter CX is a customer experience approach that puts the customer at the center of every touchpoint of their journey. Smarter CX eliminates silos by leveraging data and intelligence to create superior and individualized experiences. A smarter CX approach uses machine learning and AI to understand and interact with your customers in the best possible way at the best possible time to meet their needs. Smarter CX ups your customer experience game.

How is smarter CX achieved? The following are some of the tools in a smarter CX toolbox:

  • Marketing automation tools
  • Adaptive Intelligent apps
  • Predictive analytics
  • Configure, price, and quote (CPQ) tools
  • Unified sales and service solutions
  • Sales performance management solutions
  • Contact center support
  • Field service solutions
  • Digital customer service
  • Chatbots
  • Live chat
  • Digital assistants

A crucial component of smarter CX is AI. When combined with robust data, AI and machine learning help create a connected experience across all touchpoints, enabling more integrated and personalized interactions with customers across the buyer’s journey.


Moving from Smarter CX to Real-Time CX

The next step in the digitally driven customer experience journey is transitioning from smarter CX to real-time CX. Real-time CX gives you an immediate window into your customers’ interactions with your brand. In return, you deliver an immediate, personalized experience. Real-time CX makes data available to you instantaneously so you can influence current interactions with your customers, in the moment. This capability applies to every touchpoint in the customer journey.

In the real-time CX environment, AI combines with data to predict and anticipate a customer’s wants and needs so you can automatically and immediately make the right offerings to your customer. The marriage of AI and real-time data is a powerful combination that achieves a level of hyperpersonalization that allows you to effectively serve a segment of one―instantaneously. It can help you offer your customers what they want, sometimes even before they know what that is. Real-time CX tells your customer, “We recognize you and we understand you.”

We now live in an Experience Economy, where brands have a limited time to offer customers the best possible experiences before those customers decide to move on to someone else. Digitization is exponentially improving the way companies can deliver on their CX value proposition.

The Experience Economy

In the Experience Economy, companies must take a holistic view of the customer journey and make sure customers’ needs are at the center of every customer touchpoint, in real time. Learn about Oracle's approach to serving customers in the Experience Economy

How Do You Know If Your CX Platform Is Effective?

There are a number of ways you can measure CX platform effectiveness. Technology plays a big role in helping you do this. For example

  • Analyzing the results of customer satisfaction surveys can yield in-depth and tailored insights, depending on the survey questions you ask.
  • Tracking the percentage of customers who complete a purchase provides insights into what’s working for customers and what’s not.
  • Monitoring the number of repeat customers versus new customers tells you how good a job you’re doing at attracting new customers and keeping the ones you already have.
  • Applying digital technology can identify the rate and reasons for customer churn and help you analyze customer support ticket trends.

All of these tactics allow you to assess the effectiveness of your CX platform and make adjustments as needed.

Your Journey to Providing Exceptional CX

The starting place for transforming your customer experience is a change in mindset. You must view the customer experience as a wide spectrum of opportunity for creating a connected, informed, personalized series of interactions with your customers―and make technology your partner in achieving that.

Talk with solution providers. Ask for a demo that can help you determine how smarter and real-time CX could work for your company. Then think about your competitors. Are they already steps ahead of you? The time to start your exploration is now. The world is changing, and the customer is in charge. Remember that the customer experience isn’t a part of the customer journey—it is the customer journey.