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This Is the 'X Factor' to Growing a Successful Business Here's how growing businesses can outperform larger organizations with their CX and win in the experience economy.

By Simon Glass Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starting a business isn't what it used to be. After Covid-19, customers became less predictable, with 75% of them changing their buying habits during the pandemic. This has had a huge impact on B2C businesses, but there's little doubt that B2B consumer trends have also changed.

How can businesses compete in a world where so much has shifted — what's the defining factor that gives companies an edge? Competing on customer experience.

Although the term "experience economy" was coined over two decades ago, this framing couldn't be more relevant to the way people are making decisions post-pandemic. The customer experience (CX) now outweighs the importance of price and product quality, according to 73% of consumers.

The fact is, making people's lives easier and better is the only way to future-proof a business. If your company is not focused on driving a positive impact on everything from employee motivation to brand loyalty, you may as well admit that you don't have a sustainable and relevant business model.

My perspective on this has been shaped by personal experience as CEO of a smaller tech company that has grown 30% or more year-over-year, even through the pandemic. I'm proud of my team and the People Experience Platform we've built, but I'm also proud of our philosophy of putting customer experience at the center.

In this article, I'll provide three key customer-centric strategies that I believe have garnered Discuss high customer feedback scores and ratings.

Related: Customer Experience Will Determine the Success of Your Company

Investing in customer engagement enhancements

Strong customer experiences consist of speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service, according to consumers surveyed by PwC. Understanding that people demand seamless online experiences, we've invested in purpose-built tools to drive better engagement. Software add-ons like Zendesk enable our customer support team to be more responsive, and Pendo gives customers automated product guidance in real-time. We've also created our own purpose-built quote app so that customers can access our pricing on demand. If your business isn't making enhancements to online CX, or in some cases to hybrid or phygital experiences, you'll be leaving key tools for customer connection on the table.

Co-designing a business strategy with customers

Customer feedback should be seen as a strategic advantage in knowledge sharing and collaboration, not an afterthought only captured in surveys. For example, we just completed multiple customer advisory boards for different target audiences. Through consistent, ongoing discussions, we gauge our customers' opinions, attitudes and preferences, leading to a more agile-oriented mindset. Looking to customers as co-designers throughout our product development process has helped us out-innovate the competition. Having learned from experience, I can safely say: If every executive is not engaging with customers at least once per week, your strategic decisions will miss the mark in driving growth.

Investing in our customer support team

We continue to put resources towards strengthening our global support staff, and here's why it matters — in the tech space, the ability to offer innovative software with exceptional human support is rare, and it's a key differentiator for our business. As I've witnessed, behind every strong CX score, there's an even stronger team working behind the scenes, one that is empathetic, resourceful, and trusted. What's more, the happier your support team is and the longer they stay, the more they can grow their expertise, gaining even better feedback that shapes the business over time.

Related: What Customers Expect Out of Their Digital Experience

The ROI of competing on experience

Putting people at the heart of everything you do is not just good for sales, its impact is felt across the organization. With improved customer experiences, expect to see positive change in:

  • Innovation: Some of our best innovations were inspired by ideas that came straight from our customers' mouths. We've created better, more relevant products to address our customers' pain points in a number of ways. For example, by paying close attention to clients that have recently made the switch to our platform, we can uncover specific challenges that they were facing with our competitors, to really lean into our key differentiators and decide which areas to focus on and further develop.
  • Risk mitigation: Better customer understanding has allowed us to take risks with confidence, knowing that our decisions are evidence-based. We hear this all the time from our own customers, who use our technology for in-depth feedback: by listening to customers' voices and understanding the reception and impressions of different products, product teams feel more confident in their go-to-market messaging and decisions. The less uncertainty there is in knowing what people are thinking, the higher the probability that a company will deliver on customer demands in the long term.
  • Culture: Staying connected in a remote-first company is not without its challenges; I'm always looking for ways to acknowledge and encourage my team. One way that I call out achievements is through weekly staff newsletters. I make sure that everyone — engineers that held a great internal product demo, CS members that overhauled resource materials and sales members that "wowed" prospects by introducing our product — is acknowledged. Supporting individual growth and career satisfaction is not a lofty goal, it's mission critical.

Related: Why World-Class Customer Experience Will Be One of the Most Important Aspects of Your Business

In a market shaped by disruption, there are great opportunities for businesses to create unique and differentiating customer experiences. With CX scores for more established brands falling, smaller businesses can take advantage of waning brand loyalty.

Beyond outcompeting other brands, what does success look like in the experience economy? Anyone that's been with a company whose growth has increased alongside satisfied customers and employees can tell you: expect to see a velocity in how the business is positively shaped over time, a virtuous cycle that is iterative and sustaining.

Simon Glass

CEO and Board Member at Discuss.io

Simon Glass is the CEO of Discuss.io, the go-to purpose-built qualitative-research platform for CX, UX and insights teams, helping enterprise-level brands and agencies make strong connections with their key audiences.

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