Successful businesses recognise the power of positive customer experiences. Satisfied customers become loyal and are more likely to recommend you and purchase from you again. A better customer experience can result in lower operational costs and significant growth for your business. But what’s the key to a successful customer experience strategy? We’ll explore that, and more, in this article.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (also known as CX) goes beyond customer support calls and feedback. It relates to every interaction a person has at various touchpoints along their entire customer journey - and each of those touchpoints can provide a good or bad experience. It’s about ensuring you have a happy customer from their initial contact with your brand to their retention as a loyal, engaged and satisfied customer.
Customer experience Vs customer service
Customer service is only the tip of the iceberg of the entire customer experience. A customer’s first interaction with your brand could be a visit to your store, a call with you customer support team or a visit to your website or social channels for example.
Good customer service might include a friendly and helpful conversation in store, on the phone or over live chat. But good customer experience extends beyond that to the next touchpoints. That could be a follow up email with a special offer, an upgrade or added bonus with your purchase to encourage repeat custom. Customer experience is an ongoing sentiment, rather than a one-off transactional event.
Why is improving customer experience important?
Put simply, a good customer experience will boost your bottom line and contribute to business success. Happy and loyal customers will increase sales, reduce customer churn and generate new customer referrals. It’s far more cost effective to retain existing customers than acquire new customers. And a positive customer experience is the way to do that.
Your customers are everything, so it makes great business sense to meet, or exceed, their customer needs and strive for customer success.
How to improve customer experience
We’ve explained the theory, the ‘why’ improve customer experience. Now we’ll reveal the ‘how’. Here are 15 proven techniques to create better customer experiences.
1. Create superior omnichannel customer experiences
Wherever a customer connects with your business - in person, online, on the phone - they should receive a consistent, frictionless customer experience. Today’s customers use multiple channels and platforms for shopping and the touchpoint shouldn’t affect their experience. It’s important for your business to adopt the necessary technology and implement the required resources to ensure a seamless, omnichannel customer experience.
2. Deliver standout customer service
Great customer service is at the core of positive customer experiences. People are more likely to buy from people, namely those that instil confidence and make a customer feel supported. This feelgood factor can be the differentiator between your business and the competition.
3. Train customer-facing teams effectively
The way your team members treat your people will make or break the customer relationship. It’s important to invest in hiring, training and supporting your customer success teams to equip them with the key skills and knowledge to deliver positive customer experiences whatever the customer feedback they’re dealing with. Optimize response times to reduce customer frustration and keep customers in the loop with how the support team will manage their issue.
4. Harness AI for enhanced interactions
Technology makes it easier to develop great customer experiences 24/7 and on multiple platforms. Chatbots enable always-on customer support and customer engagement online. Customer data can be used to deliver personalized user experiences (such as Amazon’s product recommendations for example). Natural language processing (NLP) helps to interpret customer comments in surveys and free-form text messages. AI and machine learning are created specifically for customer experience management and they enable businesses to deliver these at scale.
5. Develop self-service options for better experiences
Make it easy for people to provide customer feedback or find relevant information. You could implement NPS, CES and CSat surveys for quick and simple ratings of your product and/or service. Provide online guides and help (such as FAQs) so that users can answer a question or find a solution for themselves. Implement a chatbot to provide immediate, real time responses to customer enquiries. Automation makes it easier to serve relevant email or social media messages at specific points along the customer journey.
6. Use feedback to enhance customer satisfaction
Listen to feedback about customers’ experiences with you. Learn about customer expectations of your products or services. A Voice of the Customer program is an effective and efficient way of doing this. It will gather customer data, metrics and feedback and help you to analyse the information. These actionable insights enable you to identify and fix pain points, create the products that meet customer needs, attract new customers and increase customer retention. A simple example is Netflix and YouTube’s simple thumbs up/ down feedback mechanism which informs the company’s content strategy, so they provide more videos that customers like.
7. Take social proof seriously for improved experiences
Social media platforms are valuable customer feedback channels. You can gather insightful feedback back from your own and third party social media channels. Social listening tools make this easier by finding and delivering the social comments to your relevant team members so that you can take appropriate action. Plus, social media proof sells. People are more likely to act upon a word-of-mouth recommendation than a branded ad, and it’s your happy customers that are going to promote your business and its products.
8. Keep brand messaging crystal clear
Consistency is key and customers should receive cohesive brand messages at every touchpoint on their customer journey. A great customer experience is seamless and frictionless. Customers should recognise your brand by its messaging whether they’re online, in store, reading an email, engaging with a social post or chatbot, or having a conversation with one of your team members.
9. Engage customers throughout their life cycle
Customer retention and loyalty is powerful for your business. It’s important to invest in customer relationships ongoing, rather than focussing all your attention on new customer acquisition (a more expensive undertaking than customer retention). Lifelong customers spend more money with you - it’s as simple as that. Calculating the customer lifetime value (CLV) helps you to determine the appropriate budget for it. The formula to calculate the customer lifetime value is CLV = (annual revenue per customer x customer relationship in years) – customer acquisition cost (CAC).
10. Make customers integral to your company’s success
Put customers at the heart of everything you do. Listen to customer feedback so that you can deliver the products, services and overall customer experience that they demand. Create buyer personas to help team members understand your customers better. When you picture a person, it’s easier to tailor the brand messaging, user experience and customer touchpoint to suit them.
11. Optimize the customer journey for maximum impact
Use your personas to create a customer journey map. Picture the customer journey that your persona will take and optimize it to make it the best it can be. Can you streamline a process to make it quicker and easier for a customer to achieve a task? Identify pain points, such as returning goods or finding stuff online, and make the necessary changes. Use customer data to make it a personalized experience. Recommend products that relate to their recent purchases or searches, for example.
12. Implement customer loyalty programs for stronger relationships
Valuing loyal customers makes business sense as they’ll continue to spend money with you. Reward customer loyalty by serving relevant, personalized content to them. That might be special offers and promotions, product recommendations that relate to their previous interactions or dynamic online content. Respond to their feedback and create a dialogue rather than a one-way customer relationship. Make them feel valued and appreciated.
13. Utilize customer analytics for valuable insights
There are so many ways to gather customer data [Link to CX metrics]. Website metrics can indicate pain points in functionality (such as abandoned carts or bounce rates on pages). A Net Promoter Score (NPS) highlights the likelihood of a customer recommending your brand. Tracking customer interactions with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool; gathering digital metrics about online behavior; collecting survey responses - all of these provide customer data but are only useful if they’re analyzed and used.
14. Empower your team to go the extra mile
If you want to make sure your customers are happy, you need engaged team members to deliver the positive customer experience. Training and coaching to deliver exemplary customer support is one step, but trusting them to own the customer conversation is another. With adequate training and information, a customer support agent should be able to make the right decisions to deal with a customer call from start to finish rather than referring to someone else. That will result in a better response time and resolution to satisfy the customer, and a feeling of empowerment to motivate the team member.
15. Build a customer-centric culture
Many of the most successful global businesses have adopted customer-centric cultures for good reason. They know that positive customer experiences result in customer loyalty and retention. Listening to customers inform decision-making for better products/ services and strategies for future growth.
In a customer-centric culture, team members will refer constantly to customer data and feedback in their work. It enables them to prioritise tasks, innovate and optimize. It ensures that everybody is working together with the same aim of customer engagement and satisfaction.
A few key benefits of this approach:
- Your team members understand the customer, their needs and preferences
- Your team members use personas and customer data to inform decisions
- Your team members have a desire to continuously optimize the customer experience and journey.
Key takeaways to improve customer experiences
Every touchpoint along the customer journey can provide a good or bad experience. It’s important to monitor and analyze customer feedback on these experiences so that you can optimize them ongoing.
Positive customer experiences result in happy customers, loyal customers and returning customers. These customers not only provide value through spending with you, but they become advocates for your brand and word of mouth referrals. All of this is powerful and, ultimately, increases revenue and engenders growth for your business.
Key factors to remember are that customer experience goes beyond customer support and extends to omnichannel touchpoints with your brand. It’s about your internal company culture as well as your external messaging. It needs to inform business strategy, not just feedback channels. It’s a holistic approach for your business, putting the customer first.
Our customer experience experts at Chattermill can support you to automate this process. Book a personalized demo today to see how our unified customer experience program would benefit your business.