A product is a product is a product is a product. Except when it’s more than that.

In a market inundated with choices regarding every product imaginable, it’s no longer enough for companies to rely on unique selling points or brand strength. Almost more than a product, a company must sell an experience. And that experience begins with their relationship to the customer. Companies with lots of competition, like supermarkets, for example, are under pressure to provide the best customer experiences, whereas companies with little competition or even monopolies, like utilities providers, without the pressure of competition are often the culprits of some of the worst.

Of course, CX is more than just the end product. Call centers, online chatbots, and traditional storefronts all engage with the customer to make their experience with the company, and its products, not only positive, but more importantly, one the customer will want to repeat.

Research shows that more than two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge in the market is based on the experience they deliver to their customers. Not only can companies not grow without good customer relations–they can’t even compete. As CX becomes increasingly automated to meet the demands of consumers, proper training for employees in customer service is more essential than ever.

The following statistics are a clear indication of market trends and needs. Listening to feedback is the only way for both customer and business to both be right. By surveying both customers and employees alike, companies can learn from the ground up how they need to adapt in a global economy.

General CX

1. A moderate increase in Customer Experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues. (Temkin Group)

2. 86% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience, but only 1% feel that vendors consistently meet expectations (Oracle)

3. 77% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent and consumers will wait on hold for an average of 11 minutes before hanging up (Harris interactive / RightNow)

4. 54% of customers used email customer service channels this past year, making it the most commonly used digital customer service channel. (Forrester)

5. Customer satisfaction ratings for live chat are often higher than all other support channels, likely because of the speed and conversational nature, with chat being the preferred support channel by Millennials. (Customer Think)

6. 46% of global contact center decision makers project their contact centers to grow by 5%-10% in the next year, an unsustainable rate, hence the rise of artificial intelligence. (Forrester)

7. Artificial intelligence will be a mainstream customer experience investment in the next couple of years. 47% of organizations will use chatbots for customer care and 40% will deploy virtual assistants (Gartner)

8. By 2020 more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience (Gartner)

9. 52% percent of marketers with CX responsibility expect their budgets to remain the same or decrease in 2018. Though expectations for the importance of CX are rising, CX budgets are not increasing accordingly. (Gartner)

10. Organizations that lead in CX outperformed laggards on the S&P 500 index by nearly 80%. They retain higher share of wallet and have customers that are seven times more likely to purchase more from the company, eight times more likely to try other products or services, and fifteen times more likely to spread positive word of mouth. (Qualtrics)

Read more about the Economic Impact of Experience Management

Retail CX

11. 53% of millennial shoppers feel that store associates do not have the tools they need to deliver great customer service, such as mobile devices to look up shopper profiles and provide product recommendations (Salesforce)

12. 54% of UK consumers feel more loyal to brands that show a deep understanding of their preferences and priorities (Wunderman).

13. Only 37% of shoppers feel like retailers know them. (Salesforce)

With the increasing dominance of online retail, it’s ever more important for all retailers to consider the experience they provide customers. For example, customers are accustomed to internet shopping sites remembering their credit card information and recommending products based on what they’ve purchased in the past, so it can be jarring to walk into a brick-and-mortar store with none of these conveniences. The more consistent companies can keep the shopping experience across platforms, the more comfortable the customer feels shopping there.

Banking CX

14. In 2018, Citizens and credit unions earned an 83% Temkin Experience Rating, contrasted with banks like Chase, PNC, and U.S. Bank, which each earned 75%. (Temkin Group)

15. 41% of customers who opened a new account in 2014 did so because of the customer experience (EY)

Credit unions have been growing in popularity over the years due to higher interest rates for savings and checking accounts and for providing more personal and trustworthy financial services than institutions like, say, Wells Fargo, whose massive recent facelift may not yet be sufficient to win them back the customers they lost due to recent scandals. For banks to win back clients, they need to offer a superior customer experience.

B2B CX

16. 23% of B2B CMOs see improving customer experience as a top three objective. (Forrester)

17. 86% of B2B CMOs reporting that the consider customer experiences to be very important, yet 57% of them reported only marginal CX performance. (Accenture)

Many companies struggle put their money where the mouth is, in terms of aligning their steps toward CX improvement with their stated goals. B2B companies seem to be especially vulnerable to this form of inconsistency, as evidenced by how few of their executive view CX as a priority.

The Bottom Line

18. 84% of organizations working to improve CX report an increase in revenue (Dimension Data)

To sum it up, make the quality of the customer experience you provide as a real a product as what you’re selling. The most successful products aren’t just chosen, they’re enjoyed. For example, think of every Coca-Cola ad since 2009–“Open Happiness”. The Coca-Cola company has been promoting something far more enticing than just soda. By using Qualtrics to access the opinions and mindsets of customers, companies can unlock paths to greater profitability and brand loyalty. Qualtrics’ easy-to-use interface and actionable data recorded make it clear to the user where change needs to occur. Just like Coca-Cola, if every interaction with your brand is one that induces happiness, that’s a promise the market will drink to.