MARKETING ARTICLE CRITIQUE
There has been an increasing need by producers and manufacturers of commodities to define what customer experience is and seek how it can be improved for positive business outcomes. This is because customer experience has a profound impact on the reception a company’s product receives from the market and is vital in the maintenance of an organization’s competitive advantage. Positive and increasing customer experiences are the main foundations of customer loyalty. They also enable a company benefit from word-of-mouth advertising where customers who have had positive outcomes in their exposure to company products recommend others. This automatically leads to increase in the customer base and growth in the company’s market share especially in the long-run. It is therefore necessary for companies to know how they can best measure customer experiences with their products. This is because most companies rely on customer satisfaction as a measure of customer experience. This paper seeks to critique some work done by two authors who posit that the experience quality scale is a better measure of customer experience than the net promoter score which is a measure of customer satisfaction but is often relied on as a measure of customer experience.
Customer experience can be defined as the direct and indirect assessment given by consumers of a product or service during the entire period of their interaction. It covers broad areas of awareness, advocacy, interaction, purchase and use of the product or service. Customer experience has been measured for long using the net promoter score which gives the level of satisfaction that a customer perceives to have received from his interaction with the product and his willingness to recommend others. The net promoter score is simply measured by finding the difference between those customers who are willing to recommend a product to others and those who are unwilling.
The difference between these two percentages is the net promoter score. Klaus & Maklan (2012) posit that the net promoter scale fails to capture various variables that are in play in determining customer experience. They therefore propose an experience quality scale which they claim is a better measure of customer experience than the net promoter score. This paper is a critique of their main findings and conclusions on their research.
The authors assert that there is a large conceptual gap between the net promoter score and the experience quality scale which makes the latter a better measure of customer experience. They also claim that any measure of customer experience must approach it from the point of view of being an indicator of the overall perceptions that customers have towards a product but not just as a measure to the gaps that may exist between expectations. This is because a customer’s assessment of the value he derives from a product is normally based on the overall value but not just the performance of a product in certain individual instances or user episodes.
The net promoter score ignores the broader aspects of customer experiences with a product such as peer influences and emotions. It also fails to look into why a customer may not wish to recommend a product to another and what can be done to alter such behaviors or perceptions. This is because most customer experiences begin even before the customer comes into contact with the product or service and are known to continue even after the contact or use of the product or service. It is therefore necessary that any measure of customer experience covers each and every service counter in the entire process before and after a customer has interacted with a product.
The experience quality scale is a better measure of customer experiences since it is anchored in one of the most fundamental aspects of measuring customer experiences. This aspect involves exploring how the product or service is delivered rather than what is delivered and how the experience can be connected to pervasive marketing outcomes such as customer loyalty, word or mouth referrals and customer satisfaction. Experience quality scales connect directly with various dimensions of customer experience such as product experience, customer focus, peace of mind and moments of truth. Managers are better placed to analyze the level of experience that comes with each of the dimensions and therefore in a better position to implement proper strategies that guarantee success.
The authors appreciate the fact that customer experiences are the sum of interactions and mental images that consumers of products and services form over time. They are also inclusive of emotions that are internally and cognitively generated by the consumer during the various interactions with the company over time. This implies that any measure of customer experience must take into consideration these attributes so as to capture the right and reliable data. This is because customer experience is generated along the entire value chain of a business that entails purchase of a product or service, its use and after-sales engagements that may go on between the company and the customer. The interaction between the customer and the company can also occur indirectly in the form of word of mouth criticism or praise and also in the form of product reviews.
It is therefore note worthy that the efficacy of the experience quality scale lies in its ability to take into account the pre-experience, actual experience and post experience stages of the customer exposure to a product or service. Such a strategy is bound to capture most of the customer nuances and perceptions that play an essential role in shaping customer experiences and may not be captured by other forms (Frow & Payne 2007).
The experience quality scale can be used excellently in formulating proper brand messages for a company’s product or service. This is due to its impeccable value of taking into account the previous, current and future correspondences between the company and the customer. This is because the cumulative perceptions of a customer towards a brand reveal his experience with it. Therefore the use of this tool reveals the connection more discreetly than other measures of customer experience like the net promoter score.
The authors fail to highlight the impact of the experience quality scale in driving the value of a company. The main tenets upon which this method of deriving customer experience is based can be used by profit making industries to align their business objectives with customer expectations in a more proactive way. This is because in increasing the loyalty of its main customer segments, a company will be able to increase its market share. This is because the experience quality scale touches on the main drivers of value for a company which includes attention, recommendation and advocacy.
There is also a general tendency by most companies to concentrate most of their marketing strategies and policies on maximizing the individual interactions that occur between them and customers. They fail to extend further interactions so as to gain insights into the entire customer experience. Such a strategy leads to illusions on actual customer experience and a company may make wrong strategies based on such information (Alex, Ewan & Conor 2013). Majority of such interactions are mainly at the point of sale. Perfection of the entire customer journeys by a company can increase the knowledge levels that exist between the customer and the company and open new routes to realization of additional competitive advantage. There is need for engagement between companies and their main customer segments where top-down strategies are combined with bottom-up data analysis in order to perfect the customer experience. One of the main ways of doing this is through the use of experience quality scale. It allows for increased leverage between businesses and their customers and also enhances business to business interactions. The experience quality scale can be said to provide vital information that enable marketing teams and organizational structures shift from siloed approaches to cross functional ones. Such approaches enable the company to alter its touch-point based strategies to entire journey policies in the analysis of customer experience.
The authors have also failed to highlight the importance of the experience quality scale in ensuring success of customer experience management initiatives in an organization. The scale helps an organization in knowing what its customers perceive and think not only about the company products but the organization itself. It analyses various aspects of the current touch-points. This implies that this data is not tampered with and is obtained from the source (primary data). The focus of this measure of customer experience on current data ensures that any negative notions between the customer and the company are addressed in a timely manner. This reduces any negative implications that such negative customer perceptions would have had on the company. It results to achievement of targeted objectives and creates positive customer experiences (Helkkula & Kelleher 2013).
There is also adequate concurrence that companies focus more on company centric procedures of measuring customer experiences. They invest heavily on customer satisfaction surveys which in most cases ignore the emotional side of the customer’s interaction with its services or products. Most respondents lack interest in going through questionnaires and majority leave some parts unfilled which greatly compromises the results. It is therefore clear that such measures may not reveal the actual situation in the market and may often lead to misplaced objectives. This informs why companies should focus on using experience quality scales since the provide instant and multiple feedback that is reliable and objective.
The experience quality scale is data intensive and may be more costly than net promoter scores. However, the scale is more reliable since it ranks the key determinants of customer behavior in specific markets that are ranked in their order of importance. It also relates how the market initiatives adopted by an organization determine various outcomes in the market. This is quite necessary when evaluating the purchasing intentions of customers (Nasermoadeli, Choon & Maghnati 2013).
The study conducted by the authors of the article indicated a greater correlation between customer experience and loyalty. This implies that customer experience is more reliable in determining consumer behavior. This is because customer experience is more holistic and seeks to analyze the entire experience rather than a single engagement. This is demonstrated clearly by a service such as a hotel that rents out its rooms to visitors. While the customer satisfaction focuses on the customer’s feelings at a particular time, customer experience starts with the time the customer starts looking for a hotel, how easily he made his choice, availability of online booking services, travelling to the hotel, checking out and even how easily he gets to his destination from the hotel.
The experience quality scale is of impeccable benefit to most management teams in organizations. This is because it gives insights into which management practice will have the biggest impact on the behavior and perceptions of the consumer. It links the assessments given by customers in a more direct way that makes it easier for the management to establish the missing links between marketing and other functions such as finance. The establishment of such links allows the implementation of policies that ensure the customer experiences are unique and sustainable over a long time. This is because any strategy that the company wishes to implement targeting customer experiences must be maintained in the long term for the desired results to be achieved (Palmer 2010).
The use of experience quality scale also minimizes most of the problems experienced when deciding on a method of measuring customer experience. There are various context specific variables that can influence the respondent or customer. Such variables include culture, type of store, location and even the economic climate. The use of this tool i.e. experience quality scale in measuring customer experience limits the negative impacts that such factors could have on the validity of the results. It is also essential to note that customer experience is an aspect that is non linear in nature. This is mainly evident when it is repeated over many times. This is due to impacts of novel factors that make customer experience high in initial periods the decline over repeated exposures. There is therefore essential practical difficulty in capturing these non linear phenomena.
Despite these challenges the experience quality scale should be extensively applied by organizations especially those that have problems in evaluating the outcomes of their service encounters with customers. This is because such firms normally experience difficulties in identifying what strategies they should utilize to boost their customer loyalty levels. This is because various tools that are available for measuring customer experience ignore emotional and attitudinal aspects of a customer’s experience during his interaction with a company’s products. The scales tend to give much credence to service quality but ignore the entire journey of customer experience. This leads to implementation of policies that fail to capture the entire experience and most of them are only valid in the short run.
The use of this scale allows management teams to establish links that exist between customer experience, loyalty and customer satisfaction. It makes them realize that customer satisfaction is a desirable but cannot be said to be a sufficient condition in impacting most of the behavioral tendencies that are witnessed in customers. They are able to visualize that customer experience is the main driver of customer loyalty rather than customer satisfaction. This is because customer satisfaction mainly focuses on the relationship that customers establish with products and services but fail to analyze the entire journey. An analysis of this journey reveals the various touch-points and the cross functional characteristics of a company in delivering the brand promise. It is therefore essential that managers of organizations put in place customer experience measurement mechanisms that capture the entire value chain so as to establish which areas need focus. This is because customer experience connects indirectly with all the departments and sections in a company that add value to the final product or service. This is in contrast to most customer satisfaction surveys that mainly focus on interactions between sales and marketing teams with customers. It is therefore advisable that management teams implement tools such as the experience quality scale to capture most of the customer experience determinants.
Alex, R., Ewan, D. & Conor,J., 2013, ‘The truth about customer experience’, Harvard Business Review vol. 91, no.9, pp. 90-100.
Helkkula, A. & Kelleher, C., 2010, ‘Circularity of customer service experience and customer perceived value’, Journal of Customer Behavior vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 37-53..
Frow, P. & Payne, A., 2007, ‘Towards the perfect customer experience’, Journal of Brand Management, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 89-101.
Klaus, P. & Maklan, S., 2012, ‘Towards a better measure of customer experience’, International Journal of Market Research vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 242-246.
Nasermoadeli, A., Choon L. & Maghnati, F., 2013, ‘Evaluating the Impacts of Customer Experience on Purchase Intention’, International Journal of Business & Management vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 128-138.
Palmer, A., 2010, ‘Customer experience management: A critical review of an emerging idea’, Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 196-208.
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