Customer Experience Management

There are many aspects associated with a customer's experience. The customer service, a brand's ethical ideals and the shopping environment are examples that effect a customer's experience. Understanding and effectively developing a positive customer experience has become a staple within businesses and brands to combat growing competition (Andajani, 2015). Many consumers are well informed, they are able to easily compare two similar products or services together. Therefore, consumers are looking for experiences that can fulfil their intentions(Ali, 2015). A brand that can provide this gains a competitive advantage over their competition. A study by Ali (2015) found that developing a positive behavioural culture created a greater competitive advantage in the long term. He looked at the customer experience at resort hotels and discovered that providing the best hotel service was not sufficient. To optimise a customer's experience, management must also consider peace of mind and relaxation, recognition and escapism, involvement, and hedonics. The overall customer experience must be considered. The development of a positive customer experience is important as it increases the chances of a customer to make continued purchases and develops brand loyalty (Kim & Yu, 2016). Brand loyalty can turn customers into advocates, resulting in a long term relationship between both parties (Ren, Wang & Lin, 2016). This promotes word-of-mouth and turns the customer into a touchpoint for the brand. Potential customers can develop opinions through another's experiences. Males and females both respond differently to brands and therefore, will experience the same brand differently. Males respond effectively to relational, behavioural and cognitive experiences whereas females respond greater to behavioural, cognitive and effective experiences in relation to branded apps. If female consumers are the target market, an app advert focused on the emotion of the product will provide an effective customer experience (Kim & Yu, 2016).

Today, retail stores tend to exist in shopping area's such as malls or shopping districts. Very few operate in areas alone (Tynan, McKechnie & Hartly, 2014). Customer experience is not limited to the purchase alone. It includes all activities that may influence a customer's experience with a brand (Andajani, 2015). Therefore, a shopping centre's reputation that a store is located in will effect a brands customer experience. This is an example of the shopping environment effecting a customer's experience. A study by Hart, Stachow and Cadogan (2013) found that a consumer's opinion of a town centre can affect the opinion of the retail stores operating within both negatively and positively. They shared an example of a town centre's management team developing synergy between the surrounding location and the retail stores. A location bound with historical richness could provide an opportunity for the town centre and local businesses to connect at deeper level with their customers. They suggested that town centre management and retail outlets should work cooperatively to develop an effective customer experience. This will result in all stores benefiting from customer retention and loyalty.

Another effective way to develop customer experience is by actively engaging a customer with an activity. Human and physical components of an experience are very important (Ren, Wang & Lin, 2016). Customers are able to recall active, hands-on experiences much more effectively and accurately than passive activities. Participants within a study were able to recount previous luxury driving experiences due to its high involvement. However, this can also have a negative effect on the customer's experience. Just as active, hands-on experiences can greatly develop value creation, it can also greatly facilitate value destruction (Tynan, McKechnie & Hartly, 2014). This is related to a customer's satisfaction of their experience. By understanding what causes satisfaction or dissatisfaction of a customer's experience, management can appropriately implement changes within their approach (Ren, Wang & Lin, 2016). A study on the customer experience in budget hotels revealed interesting results. Customer satisfaction was largely influenced by tangible and sensory dimensions. This included cleanliness, shower comfortability and room temperature, just to name a few. As budget hotels are cheap, customers expected the basic elements to be satisfactory and the luxury elements to be non-existent. If these dimensions did not reach an appropriate standard, satisfaction would decline, resulting in a negative experience (Ren, Wang & Lin, 2016). These dimensions also relate to the statement above about how participants were able to recall their luxury driving experiences. Luxury driving exhibits both tangible and sensory dimensions, therefore, it is not surprising that these experiences were easily recalled. A change in a company's culture is an effective way to improve the customer's experience on a large scale. DHL freight, a road transportation solutions company, decided to prioritize the customer's experience. Throughout the whole organisation which is based in multiple locations, they implemented this change. The change included a vision and purpose evaluation and improved customer interactions. This improved customer perception, changed employee's mind-set, and improved customer dialogues. Customer experience can only be changed when it becomes a business's top priority.