Over the years, the creation of high quality customer experience has become a leading concern among the objectives in the management industry. The focus on consumer experience has rapidly gained importance, because in the recent years, consumers have begun to interact with the business organizations through various mediating channels like feedback portals, company official site, social media and surveys. This literature review proposes to evaluate and analyze the current articles published in this context. The first section of the paper discusses the various theories and models for the different agendas present within the definition of customer experience. The second section discusses the management of customer experience in the business and management industry. The third section provides discussion on the management of customer experience. The fourth section presents and demonstrates on the topics that have not been yet researched or discussed in the context of customer experience.
Consumer Experience Theories
Consumer experience attributes to certain qualities on the part of the customers as well as the industry or business organizations the customers are related to (Peppers and Rogers 2016). There are various agendas within the consumer experience that mainly forms the framework of the experience of the customer. Among these are the customer purchasing behavior, customer’s loyalty and satisfaction towards the brand, the quality of service that the firm offers, relationship marketing, customer engagement, customer focus or customer centricity, and customer relationship management (CRM).
Role of Customer Purchasing Behavior
Various theories focus on the factors motivating the customer purchasing behavior and their purchasing experience. Among the many models the most important and influential is the model developed by Howard and Sheth that determines the direction of the purchasing process of the consumers, moving from requirement to recognition, to purchasing and finally to the assessment of the product purchased (Lemon and Verhoef 2016). A different model was developed in the context of the role of advertisements that influence a consumer’s buying decisions –the Attention-Interest-Desire-Action Model (AIDA) (Wolny and Charoensuksai 2014). The AIDA model explains the process of a customer’s engagement with the firm. When it comes to marketing, it is important to get the attention of the customers or the potential customers through advertising that the relates with the customers, which in turn develops an interest in the product or service of the firm among the customers. Once the customers have established an interest in the products, the firm develops strategies to induce a desire of purchasing the product within the customers by demonstrating services beneficial to them, which then drives them into the action of buying the product. These models have been sufficiently influential in determining the factors that inspire the purchasing decisions of consumers.
Promotion of Consumer Brand Loyalty
There have been extensive studies conducted that confirmed that customer satisfaction rising out of the firm’s performance has had positive impacts on the customer’s response and in the retention of customer brand loyalty (Ramaseshan and Stein 2014). Customer brand loyalty is influenced by many factors. To state an instance, a firm’s pricing strategies influence customer brand loyalty. High cost functions usually fail at retaining brand loyalty on part of the customers who are highly price-conscious. However, consumers with established brand trust on the service of a firm are more likely to retain brand loyalty. Again, customers who identifies personally with a brand are likely to retain their loyalty towards the firm because of brand symbolism. Such factors influence a customer’s satisfaction regarding the brand experience. Satisfaction and brand loyalty evaluates the perceptions of the consumers on the consumer experience and helps in the formation of a comprehensive understanding of the factors working at the enhancement of customer experience.
Importance of Quality of Service in Enhancing Customer Experience
Service marketing came to be considered as a different area in the management framework in the recent years. Business organizations have realized that service marketing is much more beneficial than product marketing and has a stronger impact on the customers (Nasution et al. 2014). Service marketing is the process of recognizing, framing, communicating and serving customers value and managing the relationship with the customers in such a manner that would benefit both the stakeholders and the organization. Service- marketing emerged as a protesting paradigm against the product-centric activities of the firms. Service –marketing ensures that not only the products but also the service of a firm towards a customer is important in determining the experience of the customers with a firm. To this end, have been developed the SERVQUAL model that determines the quality of the service provided by the firms and how it enhances customer experience through customer satisfaction.
Relationship Marketing Strategies in Enhancing Customer Experience
Consumer experience theories claim that relationship marketing promotes and advertises the relationship quality that includes factors like trust and commitment towards the customers and is important for the determination of consumer experience (Miquel, Caplliure and Adame 2014). Relationship marketing can be referred to as an arrangement that ensures an interest in a satisfying exchange on the parts of both the customers and the firms. Such strategies focus mostly on maintaining long-term and committed relationships between customers and firms. It is believed that research marketing is most influential in the presence of a range of competitive products in the market form which the consumers can choose to buy. One of the few popular strategies that can be influential in establishing successful relationship marketing is a web-based approach to the customers. With the rising popularity of the Web2.0 and advanced technology, most customers find it convenient to engage in online purchasing activities. It is, therefore, recommended that business firms apply strategies that involve online purchasing portals to ensure a better and convenient experience for the customers that in turn guarantees a more stable relationship with the customers.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in Enhancing Customer Experience
While relationship marketing mainly focuses on the creation of long-term and strong relationships with the customers, CRM mainly focuses on the effective utilization of customer relationships for the company profits. In this context, Payne and Frow mentions that maintaining good and long-term relationships with consumers is no longer the major concern (Peppers and Rogers 2016). Major studies have found out ways to implement strategies in a manner that ensures customer retention and better customer experience as well as a growth in the company’s revenue. Some of the strategies to ensure better customer relationship management include collection of personal data of customers such as birthdays and anniversaries. This will help in gaining a better understanding of the customer and their needs and demands. The CRM team of a business must have knowledge of the most influential and high priority customers of their firm. Such an approach is called target-based allocation and ensures that the high priority customers who have invested much in the company’s profit receive the best service. The CRM team must also be efficient in providing quick replies to a customer’s complaints. They must ensure proper investigation into the matters and take quick action as a response to a customer’s grievances with service provided by the firm.
Consumer Centricity and Consumer Engagement in Improving Customer Experience
Studies have suggested the importance of consumer-centered marketing in improving the consumer experience. They suggest that there are four stages to ensuring effective consumer-centered marketing –collaboration of consumer data, attaining views on the consumers from their past behaviors to understand, development of a comprehensive understanding of their future possible behavior, and responding to the valuable feedback of the consumers (Jaakkola and Alexander 2014). Theories have also been developed that give much importance to customer engagement. Customer engagement ensures the participation of consumers in activities that go beyond the act of purchasing. Customer engagement helps in creating a stable relationship between customers and the firms, enabling the customers to engage in the company decisions. This creates a sense of value among the customers and enhances the consumer experience.
Role of Consumer Experience Management in Ensuring Positive Customer Experience
Studies consider the management of consumer experience as the procedure that includes framing strategies for the management of the complete consumer experience associated with the service rendered by the firm in consideration. According to studies based on the subject, there are five paradigms to the consumer experience management. The first includes the evaluation of the satisfaction of the customers regarding their previous experiences. The second involves building an appropriate platform for the implementation of strategies aimed at customer experience improvement. The third involves developing innovative and unique ideas specific to the brand in order to increase brand loyalty by enhancing customer experience. The fourth includes constructing and framing the steps to be taken to improve the customer experience associated with a brand. The fifth requires constant upgradation of the business strategies to ensure better consumer experience (Homburg, Jozic and Kühnl 2013). However, many studies have emphasized on managing consumer experience by addressing the consumer touch-points. Such studies refer to consumer experience management as the cultural approach towards the experience of the customers and the ability of the firm to upgrade and update their management strategies directed towards a positive customer experience for the purpose of accomplishing customer retention. According to most research enthusiasts on this topic, there are specific touch points around which the framework of customer experience strategies must be developed (Jozic 2015). Such touch points that contribute to the improvement of consumer experience include mediating channels for customer feedback, advertisements and other promotional campaigns.
Management of consumer experience also has a significant effect on the business organization. In the context of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), a firm’s strategies that are customer-oriented prove beneficial for the firm as well. It renders them a better understanding of the consumer experience and enables to improve them their consumer experience management. It is therefore, often recommended that firms develop strategies and approaches to provide effective management of the customer experience (Eichorn 2017). Furthermore, management of customer experience requires an approach that is multidisciplinary and multifunctioning like customer service, relationship and service marketing and also online marketing strategies (Fatma 2014). Additionally, organizations need to have essential abilities like management of partner networks and evaluation of customer behavior in both past and present business scenarios.
Importance of Consumer Experience Measurement
Measuring customer experience is important for understanding and forming recommendations beneficial for the firm. Firms assess the experiences of the customers in order to evaluate the extent of their success in satisfying their customers. However, there does not exist any solid or strong measurement approach yet to evaluate every dynamic of the customer experience other than approaches like the SERVEQUAL. In fact, a better way to evaluate customer experience at the present time, is determining the extent of customer satisfaction through the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customer feedback collection channels both online and offline that emphasizes on specific aspects of customer experience like the Customer Effort Score (CES) (Peppers and Rogers 2016). The customer feedback channels also help the firms to evaluate and anticipate possible customer behavior. It should also be noted that the customer’s journey from purchasing to using the product moves across specific touch points which directly affects the consumer’s decisions of buying (Stein and Ramaseshan 2016). It is therefore, important for firms to recognize those key touch-points that significantly influence and inspire the purchase decisions of the customers which in turn can create a positive customer experience.
Customers have been seen to evaluate their experiences from a longitudinal perspective (Klaus and Maklan 2013). They tend to judge a firm even before they have had any actual experience with the firm considered. Such an approach initiates from presentations of advertisements, promotional strategies and from the word-of mouth (Verleye 2015). It is therefore extremely important for the marketing officials to measure the experience quality of the customers both before as well as after encountering with customers in matters regarding to the service. However, this may pose challenges for the marketing officials. If the time frame used for assessing customer experience is too long it would make it difficult for the marketing financial to differentiate the customers’ experiences form the strategic perceptions of the brand. However, a too short time-frame would result in a faulty and less elaborate measurement of the experience quality of customers. Moreover, a quantifying approach to the measurement of customer experience must have a more empirical and direct impact on the customers’ behavior for improving the relationship between customer satisfaction and the business outcomes.
Although customer experience and enhancement of customer experience is a widely researched topic, there is still scope for conducting more extensive research on the context. As mentioned earlier, there is no strong empirical approach to conduct effective measurement of customer experience. Studies must be conducted and theories must be developed to provide ways to measure customer satisfaction and the quality of experience of customers in a more effective manner. With the advancement of technology and the emergence of Web 2.0, it is necessary that firms establish web-based approaches in strategies involving customer experience. However, there is not much research conducted on how a web-based approach can differ from the traditional approach towards customer experience and how can it be different in affecting the business growth. Research must also be conducted on developing new tools, preferably web-based, to effectively manage and measure customer experience and its impact on the development of the firms.
In conclusion, it can be said that consumer experience is a rising issue in understanding the extent of a company’s success. Customer satisfaction, brand loyalty of the customers, the firm’s service quality, strategies adopted by the firm for the sake of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are just a few factors among the ones that determine a customer’s experience with an association. It has also been seen that effective customer experience management and effective customer experience measurement are essential requirements to ensure enhanced and highly positive customer experience.
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