Customer experience (CX) continues to rank highly for business growth. A recent report on digital marketing by Adobe serves as proof.
In the report, 20% of the companies listed customer experience as key to growth. Other factors such as content marketing lagged behind.
You might be wondering, “what is CX and all the hype around it all about?”
What is customer experience?
It is the entire interaction of the customer with your business. Starting right from the moment a customer discovers your business. Linking to the sale, after service, all the way to customer referrals.
Oracle recently conducted a study. They found that 74% of top executives believe that CX determines customer loyalty.
Thus, it is in your best interest to keep customers engaged and happy. A happy customer turns loyal and makes repeat purchases. Otherwise, a break in this chain of events spells dismal performance.
Here are other interesting CX facts:
- Customers awarding businesses a CX rating of 10/10 stay loyal for up to 6 years and spend 140% more.
- After receiving great CX, customers are willing to subscribe to premium services. Paying from 13-18% more for luxury service.
- Good CX ranks brands and will continue to do so beyond 2020.
- After receiving some personalized CX, up to 49% of customers make impulse purchases.
- 1-3 customers avoid a business after a single negative experience.
How important is customer experience?
One of the most famed business cliches is, “Customer is king.” It is thus obvious that business success revolves around the customer.
More precisely, customer experience proves quite vital. Affirming so, 80% of companies rate CX as a priority strategy goal.
Yet, proper implementation remains a huge challenge. 80% of companies believe they are offering superior CX. On the other hand, only a paltry 8% of customers rate CX received as excellent.
There is an overwhelming disconnect in the customer’s and businesses’ view of great CX, which makes a proper understanding of customer experience more important.
Is CX synonymous to customer service and user experience?
Simply answered – no! Here’s a detailed explanation why.
Customer service and user experience are CX components. Customer service comprises your personnel, while UX comprises web and app experience.
Imagine a reservations business with a well designed responsive app and website. Take that a notch higher and imagine fast email replies and friendly phone support.
Should a customer call to make a reservation and experience all the above, that is good UX and CS experience. A follow up call and timely ticket delivery from the business is great CX. Great CX is a wholesome experience coupled with things out of the ordinary/expected.
Luckily, with major technological advancements, businesses can leverage on user data. User data from previous engagements helps in the making of personalized experiences.
The detriments of poor customer experience
It would only be fair to reflect on what would go wrong should one choose to ignore CX importance.
Losses of more than $62 billion recur annually, thanks to poor customer service (an integral part of CX). Besides, well over 90% of customers avoid businesses they are unhappy with. They do so without making any complaints.
Have a look at some of the factors that contribute to the negatives above.
- Little or no action taken on customer feedback
- Poor customer support
- rude or ineffective personnel
- customer support line keeping customers on hold for too long
- Improper handling of customers’ personal data
- Lengthy and complicated purchase processes
The information shared above is well known to many businesses. And here is where we come in. Ours being the sole duty of helping you utilize this information optimally. Then, your business will stick its head up against competition.
Here are 10 ways that will effectively help you create and implement a useful CX strategy.
1. Create/improve on your businesses’ vision, mission and processes
If you are often offline, it would help to have mission and vision statements at your offices. Customers will know what you are all about, based on such statements.
In the online scene, make use of the “about us” page. Here, you can even give a detailed history on what your business is all about.
What to include
What you include in the documents you will come up with should be customer-centered. Thus, it is quite natural that you seek an understanding of your customers.
Another great place to start is by introspection. This helps you understand where your business stands at the moment versus where you want it heading.
One of the best ways of coming up with anything is by understanding the problem at hand. It’s important to ask questions such as these:
- What are my businesses’ core values?
- How can CX help towards achieving long term goals?
- Does the experience currently offered meet the customers’ expectations?
- What resources do I need to put in place a working CX strategy?
2. Understand your customers
Customers have varying backgrounds. As a result, their decision-making process among other factors differ.
Yet, some of their characteristics may match. Make use of such matches to group them into clusters.
Customer personas help your team understand who they are dealing with. For instance, John is 25 years old; he is tech-savvy, and understands the internet of things. Meanwhile, Jane is 65 years old; she understands very little of the internet.
John would be served by directing him to the FAQ section, where there are videos and articles. As for Jane, she needs an easy-to-use website. Also, provide detailed instructions over the phone to solve any problems she might encounter.
How to create personas
The internet is full of resources that can help you create persona templates. You can then match up customer information with the templates.
Or, you can create customer profiles as you go. First, you can group customers as per sign up information. As time goes by, interactions increase in number. Such interactions will better inform you which customer belongs where.
3. Be attentive to your customers’ needs and feedback
How can I know what the customer needs or how they feel? Easy, just ask. There are many ways of doing that indirectly. You can provide feedback forms both online and offline.
Better still, you can engage the customer directly. If offline, that is achievable through your employees. A lot of feedback comes from customer divulgence through random conversations.
Go ahead and replicate that online through follow up calls. You can also make use of short surveys tailored around gauging customer experience.
Feedback loops revolve around most of what appears above. Technology has further improved this. You can watch what people are saying about you from the sidelines.
Take social media, for instance, people here get to be themselves. They say what they feel without fear of judgement/criticism. If you go fishing here, you will get a lot of genuine feedback. Some will even do you the favor of insinuating what treatment they would have liked.
Now that you know what your customers are saying about you, it is time to adjust accordingly. Change a few things and you will have some converts. Those that love you will sing praises all the more.
You need to emotionally connect with your customers. A Harvard study on “The New Science of Customer Emotions” found that:
- Emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend your business
- They are also three times more likely to make a repurchase
- They pay little or no attention to price differences. 33% said they would only defect if offered a discount of more than 20% elsewhere.
4. Listen to your team and get them to own the process
Your employees carry your businesses’ image. They have to own and implement whatever ideas you have. It is a fundamental need in the creation of an admirable customer experience.
A good team listens to what your customers say or imply through actions.
Getting a suitable team
When sourcing for the right talent, you need to get people that interact with others easily. They do not need to be outgoing, but act the part when needed.
Suitable employees also need to act calm even when under pressure. Some customers may be hard to deal with. You do not want employees that will react negatively during such encounters.
Whatever strategy you come up with, you will need people that understand it. They should also follow laid out details and stick to the plan. Where the plan might have shortfalls, they should come up with suitable alternatives.
A lot of emphasis lies on how important it is to listen to your customers. The same level applies to employee feedback.
In any case, you should listen even more keenly to them, and cultivate an environment of trust. Remember those subtle ways of getting customer feedback? Your employees can sabotage such an endeavour. It is especially so if they do not feel trusted/appreciated.
To feel appreciated, your employees need constant reassurance. Give them some incentives, hold forums often, listen and consider whatever feedback they give.
The ripple effects of such actions will go a long way in helping your CX journey.
5. Create systems for quick resolutions
Now you know how important customer and employee feedback are, and how to collect it. Next up, is putting systems in place to ensure timely handling of issues raised.
If you are using traditional feedback collection methods, assign someone to the booklet. Issues raised need addressing, and follow up calls and emails sent out to the customer.
On social media platforms, comments and messages need replies. It should be done in the shortest time possible. First, acknowledge the feedback given, and explain how you intend to make changes. You should never try to justify a negative customer experience.
If you have invested in a live chat system, you better have someone dedicated to it. A one-second delay in replying is no good for you. It could be all that diverts customers to your competition.
How do I know if it works?
Where there are people’s opinions, it might be a little hard to measure the return on investment. Positive growth in your business can be a good indicator. Yet, it does not necessarily link to wonderful CX.
You might have come across a pop up that says, “Would you recommend this service/product to a friend or relative?” The Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other variants are the brains behind it. They are the best shot you have at measuring your CX strategy’s performance.
The average score from 1-10 ranks customer satisfaction. The replies help you understand whether your CX strategy is impressive or not.
6. Understanding customer data
All the interactions you have with your customers will lead to loads of data. To best use this data you need to make use of whatever technologies are available.
Average response and resolution times are some of the inputs to expect. But where and how do you get the data?
One way of collecting data is through the NPS score discussed above. Others include:
The Customer Satisfaction Score focuses on interaction feedback. It could seek opinion on a recent follow-up call or time spent before getting served.
Customer Effort Score is a measure of the customers’ effort in getting something done. It could be time spent looking for a specific product.
Data management tools
There are many tools that can help you understand the data your systems churns out. But, this still needs human help for proper interpretation. That takes us to the second option.
We are lucky to be living in the age of artificial intelligence. At the touch of a button, you can have your data conclusively interpreted. Better still, A.I. can track user data and behavior for faster personalized responses. Reducing human input by a great deal.
7.Outsource to a cloud contact center
How about escaping the hustle of having to train your own personnel? The idea of doing so to a team specifically trained is more appealing, right?
As you read this more than 87% of businesses outsource their customer service to cloud-based companies. As of 2008, the percentage was 12, so you can imagine how fast this has grown. Better be on the right side of these statistics.
Finding the right contact center
The internet makes a lot of things easy but you can get lost in the clutter. When looking for a great cloud contact center, here are some of the factors worth considering:
- Size and cost
- Ease of use
- Flexibility and scalability
Here’s more about a cloud contact center that you need to know.
Outsourcing takes the pressure off your shoulders. It also comes with other added advantages.
- Regularly updated infrastructure
- Easily adjustable to specific business needs
- Quite versatile compared to traditional alternatives
- Capability to engage customers across many platforms
8.Invest in good design
UX is an integral part of CX. Customers need only one poor experience in your hands and they will be gone. With website monetization, whatever costs you incur are covered.
Before you get to such levels of efficiency though, consider funding changes yourself. Invest in a knowledgeable web and app designer. Professionally chosen color schemes and technicalities ensure optimized performance.
With time, customer feedback trickles in. That greatly informs what changes to make.
Tips for creating great UX
Make sure your brand image resonates across all platforms. Your colors, logo, brand messaging and updates should match across all platforms.
Be creative and factor customer emotions in the process. You can come with fun activities to keep your customers engaged. As they enjoy such activities, communicate that new product.
Make your site and app friendly. The purchase process should be outright and simple. Should a customer need some information, make sure they can easily find it.
Keeping up with trends
The internet, a sea of information, churns out information daily. You will encounter new ways of optimizing your UX almost on a daily basis.
It is both impractical and expensive to make changes so often. Make use of professional advice and dig deep to see the impact of new technologies. Once you like and understand a new idea, roll it out.
9.Optimizing the creative process
Stuck at how to come up with a great strategy? How about making your ideal idea of a great CX the strategy? Working in a backward manner will help you do what needs to be done.
In case you are a fan of Steve Jobs, you might find this strategy quite interesting. He believed in working from desired CX towards the enabling technology.
One great place to start is your unique selling points. Check on where you can place this for your customer to see.
Some of the best places would be at the stage where you customer spends some time. For example, you can have a banner indicating your USPs at the checkout page.
Put yourself in the customers’ shoes. Reflect on those pet peeves that annoy you when interacting with other businesses. Improve on those first, and you will have made quite some progress.
10. CX strategy review and optimization
Failure to update apps makes them obsolete. Websites that are not monitored often could have browser compatibility issues over time. These are only two components of UX.
At this point, you should be wondering what happens if you do not review and optimize your strategy. You must have guessed of nothing but negative repercussions.
That is exactly what happens and you might lose any gains made. Your strategy will always be a cyclic process. Gauge, optimize, strategize.
You get this, but do your workers do? Probably not. Thus, you need to cultivate a customer-centered approach in your team.
Scrutinize all details. It is often the small things that have the greatest impact.
Always work towards improving, keep abreast of new technologies and techniques
When to change strategy
Sometimes our ideas do not live up to expectation. At the point where you gauge your strategy using metrics, you will know if it works. If not, do not hesitate to go back to the drawing board.
You may have spent quite some time coming up with the strategy. In spite of any attachments you hold to it, no need to risk gains made.
If your strategy has been working for sometime, and you see a drop in numbers, see if it is optimizable. If anything added to it does not turn the tides, it is time to change.
In this digital age, everyone is easily empowered to air their views. As a business owner, views matter for they are feedback.
Positive feedback helps you grow and improve on strategy. Meanwhile, negative feedback could bring your progress crumbling down.
Take care of the negative feedback right at its genesis. Work on exemplary customer experience. Then, you will address some negative feedback, if any.