How to Improve Customer Experience
How to Improve Customer Experience
Jeff Bezos once said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” While Bezos may just be the greatest party host ever, a great party doesn’t just happen. It's the result of strategically picked playlists, decor, food and lighting. Likewise, a great customer experience doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of a dedicated customer experience strategy. When you improve customer experience, you increase brand distinction, decrease churn, drive business growth and build a loyal customer base who go on to sing praises about your business. So, how do we throw the best party ever? Read on to find out.
What is Customer Experience?
When we talk about customer experience we're talking about the way a customer personally feels about your company, its products, services and, well... everything: all of the tiny details and micro-moments that add up to create an opinion. A customer’s experience starts at the first impression of your brand, and encompasses all ongoing interactions thereafter. Not to be confused with customer service, which describes a single touchpoint, customer experience looks at the customer's impression holistically.
What Makes a Great Customer Experience?
A great customer experience is one that:
Optimizes the customer’s interactions at all touchpoints
From the moment a customer is introduced to your brand to the moment they decide to make a repeat purchase, the customer’s expectations are met, or better yet exceeded at every interaction.
Fosters customer conversion and retention
Great customer experience drives higher levels of conversions, and increased levels of customer retention. Customers are so impressed with your brand that they keep coming back for more.
Improves your brand image
When you deliver awesome experiences, you become known as the brand that nails it every time. The perception of your brand amongst customers and prospective customers therefore improves.
So, how do we actually achieve that?
Here are the best practices for improving customer experience:
- Work from customer personas
- Map the customer journey
- Define your vision for customer experience
- Foster a customer centric culture
- Improve your website experience
- Listen to your customers
- Optimize your data management
- Invest in your frontline
- Revise and repeat
Let’s take a closer look…
Work from customer personas
Imagine throwing a party where you didn’t know anything about the guests. Do they have dietary requirements? Do they drink alcohol? Are they raving fans of 70s disco music, or do they hate nothing more? You’ve got no idea.
You can’t throw a great party without knowing the guests, just like you can’t create an awesome customer experience without knowing your customers. In order to create an experience that truly resonates, you need to know them inside out, which is exactly what customer personas are designed to help you do.
Customer personas identify customer needs, understand purchasing decisions and gain behavioral insights that help you fine-tune your experience to meet and exceed customer expectations at every touchpoint. They allow you to create experiences that are personalized, timely, and empathetic across all channels of your business.
Map the customer journey
A customer journey map visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs, behaviors and perceptions throughout their interactions with your brand. It helps businesses step into their customers’ shoes and experience their business as a customer would.
These maps help you spot friction points across their journey, and enable a focused understanding and path for solving pain points. The objective here is to create a uniform customer experience for your various segments.
Define your vision for customer experience
What defines an awesome customer experience? A good customer experience to one frontline worker, may look completely different to another. When you clearly define your vision to everyone involved in the customer journey, you can deliver on what matters most to your customers, and consistently deliver on your service promise, every time.
To align your team's views on customer experience delivery, you can:
- List the qualities of great customer experience that are unique to your customers
- Define specific goals for experience management
- Provide your team, particularly frontline workers with real-time customer feedback
- Coach your frontline to deliver on your service promise
Foster a customer centric culture
Awesome customer experiences are born out of customer centric cultures. When customer centricity is baked into a company’s DNA, you’ll enjoy a stronger, more genuine connection to your customer base, give your frontline a stronger sense of purpose and increase revenue. You may also find yourself finishing your customer’s sentences - a good thing in our eyes.
Some of the most effective ways to build a customer centric culture are to:
- Implement loyalty programs, using a strong customer experience management software
- Invest in frontline coaching and training programs
- Measure customer feedback and connect it to the right teams
- Catch and celebrate your people doing the right things
- Give staff the freedom to do what is right for the customer
- Identify common employee pain points using employee feedback tools
- Consider company culture and alignment of values from the top down
Improve your website experience
A recent Zendesk Customer Experience Report found that poor website experience drives almost 50% of users to go with competitors instead. So if you’re not already, invest in your website experience.
Here’s a few fundamental traits your website should have:
- Fast loading
- Easy to navigate
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Streamlined checkout system
Listen to your customers
Capturing customer feedback provides valuable insights to continually improving customer experience. One-off surveys no longer cut it. Your customers are constantly changing and evolving, and so should the experience you deliver.
The most effective way to gain customer insights is to track and analyze real-time customer feedback using a customer feedback software. This way, you can understand, in their own words, what’s working and what’s not. You can also gain insights through social media ‘listening’, regular open-text surveys, focus groups and product reviews.
Optimize your data management
Organized, efficient data allows you to address customer needs faster. The benefits of using customer experience technology platforms include the ability to to collect first-party data, access customer purchase history and use predictive algorithms.
Customer Experience Management Software
Customer experience management software is an invaluable tool used to measure customer loyalty, so you can understand how to best respond to their needs and ultimately take the necessary actions to improve customer experience, and therefore customer retention.
Look for customer experience management software that can:
- Generate targeted insights, and combine behavioral analytics with automated engagement and satisfaction surveys.
- Integrate with your CRM software for a detailed understanding of your customers and how to reach them.
- Store data in a way that is secure and easily navigated by your team.
Invest in your frontline
Customer experience is driven by frontline employee experience. The more time, effort and energy you put into supporting your frontline, the better your customer experience will be. Think about it — if the person fundamentally responsible for delivering an experience to a customer feels undervalued, undertrained and underpaid, why would they put any effort into making a customer experience awesome?
On the other hand, when the frontline are coached, recognized, and provided customer feedback, they feel more empowered and motivated to deliver experiences that keep customers’ coming back for more.
Revise and repeat
Customer experience is no one-off activity. It’s an ongoing process that continues to develop and be refined as the needs and expectations of your customers change. Just when you think you know everything about your customer journey, something changes. The good news is, we have access to technology that makes improving customer experience a whole lot easier. You can now make data-driven decisions, track progress, connect your frontline to your bottom line and easily calculate your ROI on customer experience management over time.
The host with the best party wins, and so does the brand with the best experience. To improve your customer experience, you must:
- Understand what matters most to your customers at every touchpoint
- Create a clear vision of the customer journey, and make it accessible to your teams
- Bake customer centricity into your company DNA
- Never stop making website improvements
- Use data and real-time customer feedback to drive decision making
- Leverage technology to help you improve CX
Ready to modernize and improve your customer experience program and connect your frontline to your bottom line? Check out our free Guide to Winning on Customer Experience here.