According to the 2017 Digital Marketing Trends Report, 22% of all companies surveyed indicated Customer Experience to be the most exciting opportunity for their organisation, for the third year in a row.
Customer experience is arguably the most critical area of focus for any organisation, seeing as a well-executed customer experience strategy can help increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn and skyrocket your revenue.
What customer experience (CX) means
The sum of all interactions between a customer and an organisation can be collectively termed as the organisation’s customer experience. It is inclusive of the process of discovery, initiation, purchase, service and advocacy.
Every stage of a customer’s experience with an organisation affects his/her loyalty and how he/she contributes to conversations about the organisation both online and offline.
For instance, if you surprise customers by going above and beyond (here it’s delivering earlier than promised), they are likely to be expressive about their excitement and gratitude.
How CX differs from user experience and customer service?
User experience and customer service are two aspects of several elements that make up the customer experience. User experience refers to the interactions that app or website visitors have with your software, while customer service refers to the support that organisations provide customers with issues.
Why customer experience matters
- In a survey conducted by Oracle, 74% senior executives said that customer experience affected how enthusiastic customers were about being brand advocates.
- A study by American Express revealed that 60% of the participants were willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
- Research conducted by Bain & Company uncovered that 80% participating companies believed their customer experience was great, while only 8% of their customers agreed with them.
About three months ago, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the third volume of a brilliant fiction series - The Vega Jane Series by David Baldacci. Imagine my surprise when Amazon sent me a $4 Kindle gift card just before the book was due to release!
I began reading the book minutes after it was launched and have bought all my books on Kindle since. I have also shared this story with at least ten close friends and family members.
The right customer experience strategy can help you endear customers and etch your brand in their minds.
10 ways to create a great customer experience strategy
It isn’t very hard to create the right customer experience strategy for your business. Most businesses simply ignore customer experience or look at it the wrong way. The following are ten ways to get your customer experience strategy right.
1. Understand your audience & create buyer personas
To create the best customer experience, you have to first understand your customers - who they are, their motivations and concerns. If your organization wants to deeply understand customers and empathize with them, you need access to in-depth intel.
There are two ways you could do this -
- Profile the types of customers your customer service team deals with every day. There’s no better way than this to understand customer’s needs.
- Use marketing analytics reports on AdWords, Facebook, Mixpanel and Google Analytics to get data about your target groups - demographics, interests and purchase behavior.
Once you have enough information, you can create buyer personas. The most effective buyer personas represent real people, human beings, so you can account for emotional or psychological elements that can hugely impact your customer experience.
For instance, yours could be Jack, a 32-year-old man who’s saving to buy a car.
Spotify’s 2016 campaign is a good example of how you can apply buyer personas. Knowing exactly who their audience was, allowed Spotify to create a campaign tailored to speak to them in a familiar voice like a friend might.
2. Examine Business mission, vision & processes properly
Proper and deep analysis of your business mission, vision and processes is the beginning step to realign the work flow with a successful CX strategy. Get the proper understanding about your business objectives and set business priorities based on current business scenarios. Build a customer experience strategy that fulfills customer experience goals and makes the customer happy. Customer experience management really can improve your business processes and help to achieve business goals.
Ask yourself that the main motive of your business is to win new customers or whether your business is entering new markets or you are launching new products/services into the current one. Proper strategic plan will be made based on above scenarios.
Review brand study properly and this will help to make necessary changes where improvements is needed. Restructure goals to create long lasting values through a CX strategy. Identify the barriers and how CX strategy will help to achieve the objectives. Knowing your mission, vision & processes will help in identifying answers of the core questions.
- What new technology, people or processes are needed to fulfill new objectives through Customer Experience strategy?
- Where do gaps exist between customer experience and customer expectations?
- How good is your company’s internal process to support customers?
- Which tools can be used to improve customer experience?
The answers to these questions will give clear idea current business scenarios and what improvements or changes are needed for better customer experience.
3. Work backwards from the experience you want to deliver
When planning your customer experience, it’s easiest to work backwards. Apple is known for its premium customer experience, and for obvious reasons. Steve Jobs, who was responsible for the brand Apple grew to be, famously advocated his principle of “beginning with the customer experience and working backwards to the technology”.
Here is a three-step process to creating your customer experience -
- List your brand’s customer experience stages and places where you have an opportunity to make an impression. Try and showcase your USP using these opportunities. For instance, with Amazon, it’s delivery earlier than promised.
- Focus on utility and solving real problems, instead of obsessing with features or superficial elements. When designing your customer experience, even the smallest of problems count.
Fiverr autofill fields on search forms so their users don’t have to refill them each time. Developments as small as these can have the biggest of impacts on customers.
4. Hire team players and get them invested in the process
At the other end of customer interactions with your brand are employees, who are key in creating a great customer experience.
Danny Meyer, the veteran New York restaurateur, is obsessed with details. His employees are trained to pay attention to customers and pick up on the slightest of details.
If a customer happens to mention a birthday when reserving tables, the manager pays a visit to the table and extends wishes to exactly the right person.
If an employee overhears a customer expressing their like or dislikes for something, every staff member is intimated to take necessary actions.
Danny Meyer believes in hiring the right people to enable such a customer experience.
Here are two tips to hire and initiate the right talent to enable great customer service -
- Focus on the skills that matter - interpersonal skills, the ability to interact and connect with people, presentation, hospitality and the ability to maintain a cool mind through crises.
- Create a set of principles for your customer executive and sales personnel to follow, so their interactions with customers are smooth and pleasant.
5. Eliminate bad design early in the game
As discussed earlier in the article, the user experience (UX) is a large part of the customer experience. The design of your website and app matter, but so does the complete design of your customer experience.
The important question isn’t which channel the customer is coming from anymore. Customers are pouring in from multiple channels, all seeking solutions from your brand is just one bad experience away from leaving you forever.
By planning every stage of the customer experience - from discovery to purchase and advocacy - you retain more control over how it appears to customers.
Design tips for creating the best customer experience –
- Create a consistent brand experience across channels - your website, apps, email and social media channels. For instance, Etsy’s orange and white theme is consistent across all their channels.
- Eliminate unnecessary hurdles and ensure that customers are always placed on the shortest path to any goal; be it purchase, seeking information or service.
- Factor in irrational, emotional satisfiers. For instance, from building app Wufoo had emotions on their contact form for a period of time. Their form would ask customers how they were feeling on a scale of the largest smiling face to the grumpiest of emojis. This addition drastically sobered up their incoming customer support emails and left customers feeling more attended to and satisfied.
6. Be attentive to customer needs & use feedback loops
Let’s revisit the Bain & Company research we discussed at the beginning of this post. 80% companies, who believe they are providing great customer service, have only 8% customers who agree with them. So if you think you’re an 8/10 in customer service, you’re not even half right.
How do you know what your customers’ needs are if you don’t ask them? How can you assess what your brand’s value is if you don’t ask your customers?
That’s why it’s essential to create feedback loops. Here’s how you can -
- Use post-interaction, real-time feedback surveys. You can even 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 pay close enough attention, you will hear customers giving you actionable feedback, telling you exactly what they want.
7. Research your competitors and create goals and objectives
Do proper analysis of your competitors, current market threats to get a clear idea of business and your customers. Use both internal and external processes to get an overview of market environment and competitors. This analysis will help to know where improvements are needed to overcome the gap between current position and competitors. The very next step is to do deep analysis of the current state to create strategic goals and objectives that will help in implementing a successful CX strategy.
These goals and objectives will focus on competitive threats, market issues, and the opportunities discovered throughout the strategy project.
8. Build the systems you need for quick & effective resolutions
Once you have taken stock of all interactions and feedback with customers, you can build an efficient resolution system to satisfy customers’ needs. Ideally, every unsupported stage in the customer lifecycle should have an unobtrusive support system in place.
The best way to do this gives your customers and prospects control. Instead of forcing your support on them, show them that it exists and that they can access it easily when needed.
Three unintrusive ways to provide customer support -
- Live chat platforms like acquire can be convenient communicators for prospects and customers when they are browsing your website.This form of support is not only unintrusive but welcome for visitors who need queries answered quickly when browsing your website. Quick resolution of questions can improve a prospect’s perception of your brand and even prompt a purchase.Plus, with a platform like acquire that offers video based assistance, your prospects will feel cared for on a personal level.
- Social media support isn’t an option anymore. With more customers taking to social platforms to went frustrations and seek information, it’s crucial to have a support executive active on social at all times.
- Traditional feedback forms still serve their purpose in connecting customers with brands. You can even use the space on feedback forms for humor and fun, to break the ice with people before they contact you.
Here’s a simple form with a GIF that can put a smile on your visitor's faces.
9. Incorporate a memorable brand personality
Even if your customer experience is great, you risk losing customers to brands that are more memorable, spunky or have an intangible quality to them. For instance, there are several smartphones that can rival the iPhone in the market, but Apple remains the only smartphone manufacturing company to make an actual profit every year.
Why? Because it’s special belonging to the Apple family. Apple already has a massive, loyal customer base. If you want to create an unshakeable image for your brand in your industry, you have to create a memorable brand personality.
Think Charmin. Taco Bell. Old Spice.
10. Optimize your customer experience strategy
Once you have made customer experience strategy, executives can focus on where still improvements are needed. Customer Experience Strategy is an ongoing process. Executives can measure and can regularly optimize efforts.
Below are some practices to follow when optimizing a customer service strategy:
- Analyze small minute details to make customer experience better.
- Keep yourself in place of customers and gather the information regarding brand experience, design, product usage etc.
- Know your targeted audience
- Give proper training to customer executive about your products, how to deal with customers queries and motivate them to become customer-centric.
- Customer experience is a continuous process and requires continuous efforts to make customer journey powerful
- Give rewards to your Employees who keep your customers happy
If your brand was a person, what kind of person would it be?
Customer experience is one of the biggest opportunities that businesses have to capture prospects’ interest, get them to act and stay with the brand as loyalists. There is no limit to what a good customer experience strategy can enable, and this post is a great start.