By Wendy Eichenbaum
There are many ways that you could improve your customer experience (CX). For the product, you could redesign a current feature or add a new feature. For support, you could expand your phone hours, or shorten the response time to email. For marketing, you could refresh your website, or open a new social media channel. But you only have a certain amount to spend on the improvements, so what do you address?
You have to find out what your customers value. If you add a new feature, will they flock to the product? Or is the feature irrelevant when it comes to their purchasing decision? Do they value calling a tech support agent 24 hours a day? Or are standard business hours sufficient?
What is value? There is a simple formula. Value = Benefit – Cost.
The benefit is often the CX that customers gain from spending money on a product or service. To illustrate this, we’ll follow a coffee bean. An average price for a pound of raw coffee beans is $1.53. Your benefit is that you can make coffee.
Let’s say you don’t have the roasting facility. These same beans roasted now cost you about $10 a pound, a 650% increase. But they’re ready for you to brew. And you can brew 36 cups of coffee, assuming an 8oz pour. That’s $0.28 per cup. Your benefit is a cup of coffee, made within minutes, at a reasonable price.
Let’s say you’re no longer home. You buy one cup of coffee for $1.25 at a 7-Eleven, which is a 450% increase over the cost of making a cup at home. Now you’re buying convenience.
But really, you want a place to work or meet a friend, so you go to your local Starbucks, and spend $1.87 for the same cup, or you splurge on a latte for $3.75. Now you’re buying an experience.
Starbucks has carefully studied and orchestrated every experience you have once you enter the door. Howard Schultz, company President and CEO, defined the atmosphere that Starbucks attempts to create when he said “We’re in the business of human connection and humanity, creating communities in a third place between home and work.” He never once mentioned coffee.
Starbucks has nailed the customer experience. People flock to Starbucks for this connection even though they spend 678% more for a standard cup of coffee, or 1400% more for a fancy coffee drink.
What benefits do you provide your customers, so they’ll open their wallets and spend more? Did your customers increase sales because they integrated your technology into their product? Did they gain customers because they outsourced their customer support to your call center, which added weekend hours? Did the public talk about your customers on social media because they sourced locally from you?
So back to our original question. How should you allocate your budget to improve your CX? You must determine what CX your customers value. Reach out to your customers to gauge what they value. I’ve written about some of these tools, including a Needs Analysis, a Cost-Benefit Trade-off, and a Contextual Inquiry.
Finally, it’s imperative to create metrics. You must define the amount of benefit your company needs to achieve to justify the cost of improving your CX. When you add a feature, how many customers must purchase the upgrade? When you extend your support hours, how many customers should use these additional hours? Or how many customers do you retain because you’ve added additional hours? What is your rise in prospects due to your social media posts? To learn more about metrics, refer to my article on metrics.
As Starbucks has shown, consumers are eager to spend money for a benefit that they value highly. So when you want to improve your CX, you must research what your customers value so you spend your time and budget appropriately.
About the Author
Wendy Eichenbaum has been a UX professional since the early-1990’s. She began her career as a technical writer. She then earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, studying both writing and UI design. Over the years, she has worked across verticals, from start-ups to multi-national firms, in many areas of UX including research & strategy, Information Architecture, usability testing, and focus groups. She started her own UX consulting firm in 2008, Ucentric Design. And she is an adjunct professor at Cal State University, Fullerton. There she teaches a class that she created, User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.