If you really want to get ahead in the game, nail down a great customer service strategy.
A well-executed customer experience strategy will maximize customer lifetime value, increase customer satisfaction and send your revenue soaring. In fact, the only thing going down will be your churn rate.
You want some idea how important it is?
Check this out:
81% of companies expect to compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX in 2019 - Gartner.
But what exactly is customer experience?
For a start, let’s call it CX, it’s much easier!
Simply put, it is the sum total of all the interactions between a customer and an organization, including discovery, initiation, purchase, service, and advocacy.
Every stage impacts customer loyalty. That means it affects how customers talk about the brand online as well as offline.
As you can see, going above and beyond gets you thanks on social media. Great for the brand.
Why customer experience matters?
- 74% of senior executives said customer experience impacted customers enthusiasm for being brand advocates, according to an Oracle survey.
- 60% of participants were willing to pay more for better customer experience in a study by American Express.
- 80% of companies participating in research conducted by Bain & Company believed their customer experience was great. Only 8% of customers agreed.
What is a great customer experience?
Is it all about interaction? From our extensive work with SaaS companies, it seems there is more to it. Interaction yes, but availability (Touchpoints) and the depth of interaction and impression (engagement) too.
Where a customer comes in contact with your brand. Could be through an employee, brand message, or product. Occurs across different channels and devices.
A communication process between customer and employee.
The quality of interaction.
Image Source: Medium
A great customer experience comes from providing excellence at every stage.
How does CX differ from user experience and customer service?
User experience and customer service make up part of the customer experience. The interactions app and website visitors have with your software form the user experience, while organizational support gives rise to customer service.
How can you create a great customer experience?
Through great customer service!
Make no mistake though, it’s hard. Most businesses bury their head in the sand or come at it from the wrong angle. But fear not, there are methods that help.
Here are 14 ways to create a great customer experience strategy
1. Understand your audience & create buyer personas
Understand your customers. Who are they? What are their motivations? The only access to in-depth intelligence will allow you to gain the depth of knowledge required.
There are two ways to do it:
- Profile the types of customers your customer service team deals with every day. A great way to understand the customer’s needs.
- Once you have enough information, create buyer personas. Maximize effectiveness by representing real people. Human beings mean emotion, vital to customer experience.
Perhaps we end up creating Jack, a 32-year-old man who’s saving to buy a car.
You can see how this Spotify campaign used buyer personas. Knowledge of the audience created a level of familiarity through tailored messaging.
2. Analyze the business mission, vision & processes
Want a successful CX strategy? Then you need a proper understanding of your business objectives.
What is the main aim? New customers? Entering a new market? Perhaps you are launching products into a current marketplace?
Review brand studies and identify the barriers. How can they be overcome?
Create long-term goals. How can your CX strategy help to achieve them?
Build a customer experience strategy with the customers’ happiness in mind. Happy customers mean a successful business!
Ask yourself these questions:
- What technology, people or processes are needed to fulfill objectives through Customer Experience strategy
- What gaps exist between customer expectation and experience?
- How good are internal processes at supporting customers?
- Which tools can be used to improve customer experience
Got the answers? Now you know what steps to take.
3. Work backward from the experience you want to deliver
Apple brand guru Steve Jobs was an advocate of “beginning with the customer experience and working backward to the technology”.
If it was good enough for him, then it’s good enough for you!
Here are some ideas:
- List your brand’s customer experience stages. Where are the opportunities to make an impression? Showcase your USP. For Amazon, for example, it’s early delivery.
- Focus on practical issues, even the very smallest. Forget about the superficial.
Use Fiverr autofill on forms to save users time. Small touches like these make a big difference
4. Hire team players and get them invested in the process
Employees are key to creating a great customer experience.
Damien Peillon, from Logogenie, trains employees to really pay attention to customers. If a customer mentions a birthday when making a reservation, the manager will come over to wish them well at the table.
What can we learn from this?
Obsess over the details. Knowing customer likes and dislikes gives the chance to act on them, personalizing the experience.
But you do need the right people in place to do this:
Use these tips to find the right people:
- Focus on skills that matter. Interpersonal skills, the ability to interact and connect with people, and maintain calm in a crisis.
- Create a set of principles to follow, so customer interactions are consistently smooth.
5. Eliminate bad design early in the game.
As we discussed earlier, user experience (UX) is key. Website and app design matter of course, but customer experience design is crucial.
Customers pour in from all channels, all on the hunt for something your brand. They could be just one bad experience away from leaving you forever.
Plan every stage of the customer experience carefully, from discovery to purchase and advocacy, you can control the customer experience.
When your website traffic hits 500-2000 visitors per day, you can also turn it into a steady source of revenue with programmatic or contextual ads that complement user experience instead of interrupting it, more about it here.
3 design tips for creating a great customer experience:
- Create a consistent brand experience across channels - your website, apps, email, and social media channels. Take inspiration from Etsy’s orange and white theme.
- Eliminate unnecessary hurdles and streamline the process to purchase. Make it easy to find the right information or service.
- Factor in emotion. Wufoo included emoji faces in their app, ranging from super smiley to mega grumpy. Customers were asked to rate how they were feeling based on this scale.
6. Attend to customer needs & use feedback loops
Thinking back to the Bain & Company research from earlier, 80% of companies believe they are providing great customer service, but only 8% of customers agree with them. If you think you’re an 8/10 for customer service, you’re not even half right!
How can you know customers’ needs without asking? How can you assess brand value without asking?
That’s why it’s essential to create feedback loops.
- Use post-interaction and real-time feedback surveys. Follow up with customers over the phone for more details.
- Pay attention to what is being said about you on social media. This is where customers are usually the most honest.
If you keep your ear to the ground, you’ll hear customers telling you exactly what they want.
7. Research your competitors and create goals and objectives
Analyze competitors and market trends to build a clear picture. Use internal and external tools. When you know where improvement is needed, you can then use this to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Creating strategic goals and objectives that help when implementing a successful CX strategy.
8. Build systems for quick & effective resolutions
Having digested the customer feedback, it’s time to respond. Every stage in the customer lifecycle should have an unobtrusive support system in place.
Place control in the customers’ hands. Don’t force your support on them, but show them it is there and how to access it.
Here are some ways to provide customer support:
- Live chat platforms like acquire are convenient for customers browsing your website. Whilst unobtrusive, it’s there for easy access when needed. A quick response time can improve a prospect’s perception of your brand and even prompt a purchase. Add to this the opportunity to provide video-based assistance, and your customers will feel truly cared for.
- With customers taking to social media platforms in their droves, venting frustrations and on the hunt for information, it’s crucial to have a support executive active at all times.
- Traditional feedback forms still serve a purpose. You can even use the space on feedback forms for humor and fun.
9. Incorporate a memorable brand personality
Loads of smartphones can rival iPhone, but Apple remains the only smartphone company making profit.
It’s special being in the Apple family. A massive, loyal customer base has grown out of a unique brand personality. Customers buy into this.
Think also Charmin. Taco Bell. Old Spice.
Think about this. If your brand was a person, what kind of person would it be?
10. Apply AI or machine learning to deliver a better experience
AI-assisted self-service portal:
More than 6 out of 10 U.S customers prefer a digital self-service tool (website, mobile app or online tutorial) over a call or video chat for resolving issues.
AI enables auto-responses to routine customer queries, guiding your audiences with carefully curated content.
AI customer service interactions reduce the need to attend every customer conversation, freeing up your agents to focus on more complex issues.
AI-assisted messaging system:
AI lets you segment your user base and increase personalization. With records of a subscriber’s email browsing data, web pages visited and past interactions, AI can auto-send personalized messages and even track their response.
AI can draw on past interactions, making sure that the customer gets the most relevant experience.
11. Replace marketing with customer service
Marketing means educating customers on what’s great about your products and services, pushing them towards purchase. Digitalization has drastically shifted customers decision-making processes.
They put in the hard yards when it comes to research. They are already aware of the pros and cons of your product/service. Customer service then becomes a key differentiator.
It’s invaluable for assuring customers you are interested in more than just selling. Let them know you are there to help them in every possible way.
12. Understand your customer experience metrics
Failing to measure your customer experience, means missing out on valuable information. Remember, if it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved.
There’s plenty of data out there. Average response and resolution time for example.
It’s not all about the front line though. Just tracking and measuring customer facing team performance won’t provide the whole picture. Don’t forget that the teams behind the scenes can have a big impact on customer experience.
Focus on quantitative insights:
NPS - Net Promoter Score shows the percentage of your customers who would/wouldn’t recommend your company to their friends, family, or colleagues.
CSAT - Customer Satisfaction Score is a transactional metric showing how satisfied customers are with a recent interaction. This is often a purchase or a customer service call. It’s flexible and highly customizable.
CES - Customer Effort Score shows the effort expended by customers in accomplishing a task. Could be getting a support request handled or finding the product they were looking for.
13. Make use of technology & tools
In 2008, only 12% of businesses had cloud-based Customer Service Management Tools. Now it’s 87%!
Companies are chomping at the bit to adopt specialized customer-centric tech. Small wonder when these tools reduce the workload of an organization by 67%. It would be madness to ignore this kind of increase in efficiency and reliability.
-> Engage customers across multiple channels all in one place.
-> Increase customer engagement with automated messages tailored to customers/visitors profile.
-> Reduce churn with predictive analytics.
-> Measure your customer experience strategy quantitatively.
14. Optimize your customer experience strategy
A customer experience strategy is an ongoing process. Adopt a continuous improvement approach. Measure, optimize, repeat.
Here are some tips how:
Don’t forget the little details.
Leverage customers to gather information on brand experience, design, product usage, etc.
Know your target audience.
Train staff about your products, how to deal with customers queries. Foster a customer-centric mindset.
Be prepared to continuously improve.
Reward employees who put a smile on the customers’ faces.
Customer experience provides a massive opportunity to create loyal customers. With the right strategy in place, the sky’s the limit.