As indicated by this comic, it’s easy to make fun of instant gratification.
But it’s an understandable desire that can serve people quite well. “It’s a natural human urge to want good things and to want them NOW,” explains the Positive Psychology Program. “It has almost certainly provided an evolutionary advantage for humans and their ancestors, as life for pre-modern humans hinged on decisions made and actions taken in the immediate far more than those intended for long-term gain.”
The desire for instant gratification extends to customers’ expectations regarding the experience they receive from companies. For instance, Hubspot found that “90% of consumers rate an immediate response as important or very important when they have a customer service question,” with immediate defined as 10 minutes or less.
In response to such expectations, companies have increased their efforts to provide not only a response but also a resolution as quickly as possible, giving rise to the concept of real-time customer experience (CX). This is an important topic and one that we’ll explore in depth in future blog posts.
But in the midst of all this attention on the immediate, we want to make sure that support and success professionals don’t lose sight of the other end of the spectrum. That’s why today we’re exploring CX for the long term, including its benefits and strategies for achieving it.
Benefits of Long-Term CX
When we say long-term CX, we’re referring to the type of experience that not only meets the needs and goals of customers today but also for months and years to come. Such an approach is more challenging than solely focusing on immediate gratification, but it offers greater benefits to those companies that are able to provide it.
The most significant effect of long-term CX is increased customer loyalty, which leads to a higher volume of purchases, an increase in the frequency of purchases, and higher retention. Just consider these findings from research conducted by InMoment:
- 50 percent of loyal customers will purchase more products
- 60 percent of loyal customers will purchase more frequently
- 77 percent of customers have maintained a loyal relationship with a company for at least 10 years
All of these benefits, in turn, lead to bigger profits — in fact, even small increases in customer retention can result in huge gains in profitability and business growth.
Strategies for Achieving Long-Term CX
The potential upside for companies providing CX that’s oriented towards the long term is clear. Now let’s turn to actionable advice on how to do so successfully.
Encourage Support Agents to Consider the Long Haul
As the first line of defense against technical bugs, UX confusion, billing questions, and more, support agents have a full plate of immediate issues in need of resolution. Given the data shared above regarding customers’ need for speed, it’s essential that CS reps devote their attention first and foremost to providing a fast response.
That said, in order to develop true loyalty and reap its associated benefits, it’s equally important for support professionals to keep the long haul in mind during customer interactions. For example, while agents should work to resolve the pressing issue as quickly as possible, they should not do so if it risks inaccuracy.
In order to encourage this long-term mindset, managers and executives must implement a set of metrics and incentives that align with this approach. Agents should not be evaluated solely on short-term factors like the speed of their response (average handle time) but also on the customer’s assessment of how easy it was for them to resolve their issue (CES) or how satisfied they were by the interaction and ultimate solution (CSAT).
Implement a Customer Success Program
In addition to encouraging support agents to cultivate the proper mindset, the implementation of a customer success program will help substantially in the pursuit of long-term CX. Rather than providing reactive assistance in response to questions or trouble tickets from customers, success professionals are tasked with helping them wring the maximum value from a product or service in order to achieve their own unique goals. This mission naturally requires customer success managers (CSMs) to take a more long-term approach that’s rooted in developing a genuine relationship with each customer.
To learn more about the origins and evolution of customer success, check out this interview with industry leader Irit Eizips. We also invite you to download a free copy of our eBook on The Value of Customer Success Across Your Organization.
Build a Connection-Focused Culture Across the Company
The final component necessary for long-term CX is culture, specifically a connection-focused culture that bridges the gap between employee experience and customer experience. According to Michael Lee Stallard, author of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work, “A connection culture builds long-term, sustainable performance, which creates a high-quality customer experience.”
When Stallard says “high-quality customer experience,” he is referring to the same type of long-term CX we’ve been discussing. Learn more about building a connection-focused culture from this recent webinar presented by Squelch and TSIA titled “Triple Win: How Culture Can Impact Success Teams, Customers, and the Bottom Line.”