sign with question "why" on top of a mountain
Sometimes in our rush to provide great customer experiences, we forget to ask the questions that matter PHOTO: Ken Treloar

According to Forrester, 80 percent of US adults report that what they most value in a customer service exchange is when a company values their time. That finding dovetails with a Walker survey projecting that by 2020, customer experience will be the biggest brand differentiator, usurping both price and product.

Because of findings like these, the CX conversation has become heavily saturated with best practices and tools to enhance the customer journey. But when you're focused on everything you have to do to maximize a customer’s experience, you may be forgetting to ask the less obvious questions about ways you can make your customer experience better.

4 Vital, But Overlooked CX Questions

Here are four of those questions you may have overlooked:

1. Has my service left my customer with an emotional burden?

Lingering hatred for a brand is all too common — with the airline industry as a prime example. After poor in-flight service or flight cancellations, customers will long remember their lackluster customer service experiences and are likely to tell people about them for months to come.

Fact is, word of mouth can be your greatest ally or your worst nightmare now that social media has given customers access to thousands of people within seconds. Even more frightening? According to American Express, 95 percent of consumers share their poor customer service experiences with others.

And whether those conversations take place B2B or B2C, others listen. That means that if you’ve left your consumers with any emotional burdens, you need to do everything you can to remove and remedy those burdens going forward.

2. How should my company’s approach to CX change as it matures?

There’s a tendency to think that the definition of a good customer experience should be the same whether a company is a startup or part of the Fortune 500, but that isn’t always true. That’s because startups often find it easier to control the customer experience because they typically have only one flagship product.

What’s more, their interactions with customers are often much more limited and easily controlled. For example, their investments in technology, such as data gathering, will be much different from those of a Fortune 500 company that has millions of customers worldwide who are experiencing the brand across multiple channels. 

That means that unless your company is very large and well-established, it probably doesn’t need to break the bank on products that churn out oodles of data. Instead, it’s best to focus your tech investment dollars on improving the state of your current customer experiences with an eye toward setting your company up for later success.

3. Is NPS a true indicator of how my customers really feel?

The net promoter score (NPS) has long been the industry standard for rating a good customer experience. The problem? NPSs don’t give a holistic view of the customer journey or how customers feel because a high score doesn't necessarily translate to a satisfied customer. That’s because the NPS checks in with customers at the end of their journeys — not at the beginning and not during.

That means that factors beyond a company’s control could be impacting customers’ experiences. For example, maybe they saw a tweet from someone that either positively or negatively influenced their decision. 

In addition, according to Zendesk, four out of 10 of your customers report that they would elect to go to a competitor if they heard that it provided better customer service — even if the competitor’s actual product were inferior. The takeaway? It’s time to reevaluate the relevance of NPS and how companies should evaluate customer experiences.

4. What is the likelihood of my customers leaving and why?

It's always nice to focus on the positive aspects of retention rates to identify why people are latching onto your brand. That being said though, the devil is in the details when it comes to understanding when, how and why customers would abandon their purchase journeys or avoid engaging with your brand in the first place. Focusing on why consumers are dropping your brand, rather than why they are staying, can help you address issues you didn’t even know needed addressing.

Think Outside the Customer Metrics Box

As customer experience continues to be the battleground for success, it’s imperative to ask the questions your competitors are neglecting to ask. Why? Because it’s one way to differentiate yourself, especially as it becomes harder than ever to deliver experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations. 

As the demands on customer service continue to evolve, challenging your program — and those who run it — to think outside the box will be the quickest way to improve both your customers’ experiences and your bottom line.