What is customer experience (CX)?
Customer experience is your customer's overall perception of their experience with your business. Gartner glossary defines CX as the customer’s perceptions and feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a brand’s employees, systems, channels, or products.
In simple terms, CX is the result of every interaction a customer has with your business. This includes the discovery process, navigation to the website, talking to customer service, buying the product, and more.
Delivering a good customer experience is one of the fundamental strategies of every business. When done right, CX will enable you to grow a large and loyal customer base. The better the experience customers have, the more likely they are to return or recommend you to a friend. Some of the main benefits of delivering a great CX include:
- increased customer loyalty
- increased customer satisfaction
- better word-of-mouth marketing, positive reviews, and recommendations
Customer experience is often falsely misplaced with customer service. The truth is, that customer service is only a part of the whole customer experience. It refers to specific touchpoints where a customer requests and receives assistance or help.
What is a customer experience strategy?
The customer experience (CX) strategy is a holistic plan to improve customer satisfaction across all interactions with your brand. The strategy considers the whole customer journey from discovery to post-purchase.
The CX strategy defines the actionable plan to deliver a positive, meaningful experience across those interactions. Understanding the customer journey is a crucial step for creating a great customer experience. You must assess every touchpoint along the journey and the quality of how the customers interact.
It takes deliberate effort to find what resonates with your target audience and offer them personalized and efficient service. We will go through the best CX practices and help you establish a successful customer experience strategy.
How to create a great customer experience strategy
Before we dive deep into the best customer experience practices, you must first understand all the elements that come with creating the strategy.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to review and improve the CX.
Reviewing Your Current Customer Service Strategy
First, you must fully understand your current customer experience. Where do consumers find you? What channels are you active on, and where do you communicate? What steps must consumers take from the discovery to the first purchase? All this and more are part of CX that you must review to see, where improvements can be made.
If you're not sure where to start, try checking your company's help desk or call center data for key metrics that indicate success — like Net Promoter Score, customer satisfaction score, and customer churn rate. If you're scoring below expectations, you'll have a starting point for digging deeper into the problem.
There are several tools and channels that you can use to help yourself review your current user experience:
- Your company's help desk
- Hotjar and similar tools
- Call center data
- Customer reviews
- Brand mentions on social media
Creating a Customer Journey Map
A customer journey map is a visual representation of a customer’s experience with a company. It shows the full journey from a customer-first discovery of your brand to the post-purchase phase. Customer journey considers all touchpoints in between and provides a deep understanding of potential customers. Companies use this strategy to optimize customer experience which leads to higher conversion rates and improved customer retention.
This information allows companies to boost customer experience leading to higher conversion rates and improved customer retention. Thus companies are taking the approach of journey mapping. This brainstorming exercise helps companies step into customers' shoes and see their businesses from their perspective. It allows you to gain insights into common customer pain points and how to improve those. User journeys are then created for each buyer persona so companies know how to utilize different touchpoints.
Align your team with new protocols
Once you understand the most important things that need improvement, it is time to get down to the action. Share findings and next steps with your team to get everyone on the same page. The whole company must understand and optimize workflow to boost customer experience.
Setting up protocols and SOPs will enable you to stay consistent in the organization and improve the future performance.
Providing Self-Service Solutions
We briefly mentioned resources and guides in the previous chapter. Creating complete and comprehensive guides enables customers to solve their problems without needing to contact you directly. Chatbots and knowledge bases make it easier for customers to find solutions and reduce the pressure on your customer support. Your team can thus focus on the complex customer pains and offer them full support.
Collect feedback from your customers regularly
Customer experience strategy is not a thing you do once and forget about it. You have to create constant and regular procedures where you communicate with customers and ask for their feedback. Listening to them can be one of the most beneficial factors for your future success.
Don't be afraid to ask your customers to leave a review since this will help you improve customer experience even when their needs change. You must understand that there will be both positive and negative reviews. Take every criticism as constructive criticism and apply it to your strategy if it makes sense.
Top 15 customer experience trends
1 Reach your target audience.
Before you can understand your audience, you must know how to reach them. Find communication channels and media your current and potential customers use to engage with them. Engaging with your consumers will help you understand their needs and pains. Be active and responsive to their queries to show you are listening to them.
The Customer Experience Impact 2010 report reveals that 82% of consumers in the U.S. said they have stopped doing business with a company due to experiencing poor customer service events. Provide customers with reliable, consistent, and high-quality service.
2 Offer convenient customer service.
Segwaying to the next chapter, knowing where your customers are isn't enough to provide good customer support. As more and more interaction is done on the internet, the demand for fast customer support grows. See these statistics by Shopify report to better understand what fast means:
- 64% of people using Twitter expect an answer within an hour.
- 85% of people using Facebook expect a reply within 6 hours.
- 77% of people won’t wait longer than 6 hours for an email reply.
A good practice is to have an up-to-date knowledge base on your website, where customers can help themselves without needing to reach out.
3 Be consistent in your customer service activities.
Consistency is the key to improving customer loyalty and trust. Forbes magazine reports that customers want to engage with the companies they trust. This is especially true in B2B, where 72% of business leaders consider trust to be of the utmost importance.
Your workflow and customer support must follow a consistent procedure customers can trust and lean on. Stay up to date with all your policies and ensure consistent and high-quality support.
Customers are more interested in building trust with the companies they do business with. Building trust requires consistency in your processes, policies, and actions from every team that influences the customer experience.
To help cultivate this culture of trust with your customers, double-check that policies are up-to-date, reasonable, and carried out consistently across every scenario and buyer persona. You don’t want to have a situation where something like a return or exchange causes friction with your customers, making it difficult for them to purchase in the future.
4 Provide convenience when purchasing products.
Online retailer Dope Snow is a great example of simplifying the purchase process. The company sells snowboard and ski clothing and enables you to mix all clothing pairs on a live model. This feature helps consumers see how different pieces of wardrobe fit together when they mix and match different styles.
Next great example is another clothing brand named Canada Goose Jacket. The brand is known for creating premium jackets for extreme winter conditions. Their Toronto-based store offers consumers a unique experience by simulating extreme weather conditions in the store. Shoppers can thus see how the jacket feels in a real-life environment and make easier purchase decisions.
5 Strengthen customer communication skills
Fostering good communication skills should be a vital part of your customer experience strategy. Improving communication will help you build a stronger relationship with customers.
Good communication does not mean solely addressing customer concerns and problems. It is also the way you engage in conversation and shows yourself as a brand. High-end fashion brands will hold a completely different communication style than entertainment brands.
Bottom line is to make sure you communicate flawlessly and effectively. Avoid bland and scripted conversations, and make conversation natural.
6 Refine products and services based on customer feedback
Customers should be the center of your business strategy. The services you provide are for the customer, not for you. The same goes for products you sell.
The only logical step in perfecting your products and services is to listen to customers and their feedback. They are loyal to you, so you should strive to address their pain points and perfect your offering based on their feedback. Solving the root of the issue with a product or service you sell can create a better customer experience overall.
Some strategies to get customer feedback are:
- NPS surveys
- Focus groups
- Post-purchase interview calls
- Feedback form submissions
No matter how much work goes into perfecting the back end of your customer experience, you must remember that they bought a product or service from your company and expect it to be valuable and high-quality. Refine your products and services based on customer feedback with methods like NPS surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one customer calls. Solving the root of the issue with a product or service you sell can create a better customer experience overall.
7 Follow Up with your customers
Post-purchase time is as important as the time before the conversion happens. Following up with your customers even after the purchase will increase their customer lifetime value (CLV). CLV represents the total amount of money a customer spends on the relationship with your brand.
Existing customers present a huge potential for additional revenue. Consistent communication can keep you at the top of their mind while choosing between different service providers.
Not every follow-up should be about selling a new product or upgrading to a different service plan. Show that you care about their satisfaction and the possible problems they face when using your product or service.
8 Build customer-centric strategy
Customer experience is the sum-total impact of all interactions during a customer lifecycle. Companies serve different customers, but they all have one thing in common. They all place customers in top focus.
B2B or B2C, you should always anticipate your customers' needs. Align your services to meet their expectations and try solving their biggest pains. Ensure obtaining feedback from all touchpoints and use it as data for improvement. Offer proactive customer service and create knowledge bases that help them solve problems individually.
9 Create a customer feedback loop
A customer feedback loop is a CX strategy used to help you improve products based on user feedback. The process consists of 4 elements:
- Collecting customer feedback.
- Analyzing feedback data.
- Applying feedback and beginning to test.
- Following up with customers.
The feedback loop helps businesses tailor their products exactly to its customer needs. The system allows you to set up an effective process of evaluating and applying customer feedback.
10 Create in-person & digital personalization.
Customers today are choosing brands that feel like they listen to them, understand them, and pay attention to their specific wants and needs. Reports show that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers a personalized experience.
Personalization means offering customers tailored experiences based on their preferences and needs. In a competitive market where possibilities around different products are limitless customers want to be recognized. Offering personalized services and products will help you stand out and keep you ahead of the competition.
11 Be proactive.
Strive to create a proactive team inside your organization. Every department in the company should work hard to make a great customer experience. The marketing department should analyze and asses customer trends and tailor offerings based on this data. Sales reps should discuss their biggest concern and pains and address them with your customer success team.
An important part of creating a great customer experience is documenting everything. Teams will change, yet the problems and tasks will stay. Document all your best practices and protocols for easy onboarding. This will also ensure that your customer support will stay consistent during company fluctuations.
12 Engage in social listening.
Learn how to use social listening to monitor social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, and more.
Social listening is tracking social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, and more. Collected data enables you to find customer insights and opportunities to act.
If you set up your social listening strategy correctly, you can discover the pain points in the customer journey and other insights that can positively impact the customer experience.
Here are some tools that can help you collect direct mentions and implement an effective social listening strategy:
13 Focus on simplicity and ease of use.
Many reports show that companies should prioritize web design when meeting customer expectations. An intuitive and engaging website will enhance customer experience and keep them on your site longer. A survey conducted by Top Design Firms reports that:
- 50% of consumers believe that website design is crucial to a business’s brand.
- 42% of people would leave a website because of poor functionality.
- 31% of users view an engaging user experience as a top priority for website design
14 Streamline your sales processes
It doesn't really matter how good you are if you don't know how to sell your products or services. Having a well-defined sales process will put your business in second gear and keep bringing new leads.
A good practice is to set up a training process and align all your sales reps to the same protocols. The sales team should be able to solve most customer queries and smoothly navigate conversations with potential customers. Streamline your sales process to handle the increased customer tickets and better qualify leads.
15 Evaluate your customer experience metrics
Last but not least, you should measure the impact of your customer experience strategy. Measuring CX's impact will help you evaluate which efforts are contributing positively to the customer experience and which are not worth pursuing.
Here are some good practices on how to measure customer experience with the following metrics:
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
- Customer Churn Rate
- Customer Retention Rate
- Customer Journey Analytics
- Customer Support Ticket Trends
Following the metrics from the list will give you a holistic approach to understanding the customer journey. Select and identify the KPIs that fit your business objectives to measure client satisfaction efficiently. Measure your customer experience and evaluate the metrics to find where is room for improvement.
To stand out from the competition, you will have to put in work to boost customer experience (CX). As you can see in the article, you have to optimize every single touchpoint with a customer.
Boosting customer experience is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to streamline an effective process to understand your potential and current customers and gather their feedback. Based on the data, you can then make informed decisions about your overall customer experience strategy.
Understand that as time goes on, the customer needs will change, and so should your CX. Follow the guidelines in this article and create a customer-centric approach to build long-lasting customer relationships.