Great customer experience requires a customer-centric mindset… and a lot of careful work.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience (also known as CX) is defined by the interactions and experiences your customer has with your business throughout the entire customer journey, from first contact to becoming a happy and loyal customer.
CX is an integral part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and the reason why it’s important is because a customer who has a positive experience with a business is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer.
In fact, according to a global CX study by Oracle found that 74% of senior executives believe that customer experience impacts the willingness of a customer to be a loyal advocate. If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to invest in their experience!
What is a Good Customer Experience?
There is no single universal checklist to follow to guarantee good customer experience: your business is unique and so are your customers. However, Hotjar found a number of common principles by polling 2000 CX professionals across many industries. You can read the full results of the survey here, but we’ve included some of the key takeaways below.
In short, good customer experience can be achieved if you:
- Make listening to customers a top priority across the business
- Use customer feedback to develop an in-depth understanding of your customers
- Implement a system to help you collect feedback, analyze it, and act on it regularly
- Reduce friction and solve your customers’ specific problems and unique challenges
It’s not rocket science: a good customer experience comes from asking your customers questions, listening to their responses, and actioning their feedback.
What Is a Customer Experience Strategy?
If customer experience refers to the sum of every interaction a customer has with a business, both pre- and post-sale, the customer experience strategy defines the actionable plans in place to deliver a positive, meaningful experience across those interactions.
A successful customer experience strategy should take into account a number of important factors, including, but not limited to:
- Competitive insight
- Consumer research
- Marketplace data
- Mission & vision
When defining your customer experience strategy, you want to ensure that you’re including all departments, not just the folks in customer-facing roles. By incorporating feedback and insight across the company, you’ll find it’s easier to align the organization around the intended goal: improving the customer experience and relationship.
10 Ways to Improve Customer Experience (CX)
Businesses are increasingly recognizing the power of customer experience when it comes to growing loyalty, lowering operational costs and securing long-term growth. But how exactly do you make your CX better?
Improving your customer experience (CX) could have a major impact on your bottom line. In fact, 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, according to the Temkin Group.
An investment in CX can also reduce operational costs such as the cost to serve, according to Harvard Business Review.
Unhappy customers are expensive, after all.
Check out the 10 tips below on how to improve the customer experience:
1. Empower your employees
This may seem backwards, but companies that win at CX start with their employees.
There’s an important connection between empowered employees and happy customers. Think about it — you’ve been speaking to a customer service agent for 10 minutes and you ask for a discount. The agent wants to resolve your issue, but they need to approve it with their manager. You’re already tired and just want to be finished with the conversation. It would be much easier if the agent could use their judgment, approve the discount (or take other appropriate action) and solve your issue on the spot.
2. Value employee ideas
Employees who are on the frontlines interacting with customers are in a unique position. They’re the rubber meets the road when it comes to delivering on your brand promises, and they’re equally pivotal when it comes to perceiving and communicating customer expectations, mood and perceptions.
So when that crucial connection suffers, so does your understanding of your customers, and their perception of you. Employees who feel valued are more engaged at work and more willing to help customers.
According to our latest employee engagement trends research survey, employees are two times as likely to be actively disengaged if they think their manager ignores them, so it’s important to let them know they’re valued by listening to their opinions and ideas.
3. Use tech to create breakthrough customer experiences
AI and machine learning are tailor-made for CX experiences. From chatbots that are there for customers 24/7, to natural language processing that allows you to understand what people mean in free-form text messages, the latest digital technology has made time-to-insights faster and new levels of personalization and service both scalable and affordable.
The value of these technologies are reflected by the increasing numbers of big businesses using them. For example, Dominos lets customers order pizza through the Domino’s Facebook Messenger chatbot, and eBay helps customers search the entire eBay marketplace for the best deals out there just like a personal shopper. There’s no doubt AI and related tech can make life easier for your customers and allow you to get creative with your products.
4. Embrace an omnichannel mindset
Gone are the days of sitting down at a desktop computer to connect with a brand. With more than 50% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, multi-device digital journeys are now the standard.
But it’s not just about maintaining a consistent journey across different devices. Today’s CX leaders understand that customers use a range of offline and online channels to connect with brands, often switching multiple times, and that every part of the journey – however meandering and unpredictable – needs to be seamlessly joined-up and consistent.
Embracing omnichannel is one of the most important shifts you’ll make in your business thinking, and it’s one that goes hand in hand with prioritizing CX.
5. Personalize, personalize, personalize!
Customers today want personalized interactions. In fact, research by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers were more likely to make a purchase when brands offered CX, and 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them, according to Accenture.
Personalization, where the experience adapts based on what you know about the customer, makes customer journeys smoother and strengthens the bond between brand and customer. If you’ve ever received a marketing email filled with recommendations and vouchers based on your purchase history, or been able to set up which content you see on a website from your user profile, you’ve experienced the power of personalization.
6. Adopt a top-down approach
The best customer-centric organizations start at the top. CX and company leaders should model the importance of customer-centricity and set an example employees can follow with confidence.
Take Walt Disney, for example, who used to walk around Disneyland Park, observing and fine-tuning the experience by stepping into his customer’s shoes. Today, the Disney brand is customer-focused because the leaders model it.
Leadership exemplars are part of developing a customer-first culture. Starting from the top, values and behaviors need to be consistently adopted and acted on at every level of the organization, from C-suite to shop floor.
7. Use customer journey mapping
Customer journey mapping visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with your brand.
By cross-referencing journey maps with core metrics, you can get a better understanding of your CX and where there are issues and opportunities. You can use journey maps to improve customer experience now, envision your future customer experience, or drive organizational change.
8. Include open-text feedback in surveys
Customer experiences are especially powerful when they are expressed in a customer’s own words. By hearing directly from customers, for example through open-text responses on surveys, you can understand the thoughts and sentiments behind their actions and make more informed CX decisions as a result.
But although in an ideal world you’d have a 1:1 conversation with every customer, asking everyone what they think of your brand and listening to their answers would simply take forever. Until recently, businesses have been limited in how much natural language feedback they can process and use.
Fortunately, technology has provided a way to take open-text feedback from customer surveys and analyze it at scale, so that you can massively increase your capacity to listen. Tools like Text iQ use natural language processing to sift large volumes of written feedback and identify the big-picture patterns you need to know about. It can even make future predictions based on your data.
9. Improve your customer service
Customer service is the backbone of a great customer experience, and can be a powerful differentiator in the eyes of your customers. People don’t just buy from you because your product meets their needs – they buy because they feel confident they’ll get support when they need it. The data show that time and again, customers who experience great service buy more and stay loyal to brands for longer. For instance, American Express found that customers were willing to pay 17% more with a business that offered great customer service.
Delivering great customer service relies on a few different things. Your employees need to be hired, trained, coached, and supported with a view to growing customer service skills and behaviors. Your business culture needs to promote delivering on quality, not just on speed and efficiency. And the infrastructure your business runs on, including CRM tools and experience management platform, needs to be flexible, scalable, and easy to use.
10. Implement Voice of the Customer programs
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is feedback about customers’ experiences with you and their expectations of your products or services. It focuses on customer needs, expectations, understanding, and product improvement.
Creating a program for capturing feedback and acting on those insights will help you understand your customer’s needs, create better products, and attract and retain customers. This is crucial for the success of any CX program.