The way you think about customer experience (CX) is crucial. It’s the heart of successful businesses. When customers feel valued and have a positive overall experience of doing business with your company, they’ll come back.
However, if you get it wrong, these customers will flock to your competitors.
Your company’s reputation is just as important – if not more important – than the products and services themselves. So, creating a great CX is key to driving long-term business growth.
What It Means to Create Great Customer Experiences
How we interact with brands has evolved dramatically over the past several years and so too has the entire notion of CX. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the digital world was becoming the common playground. Many consumer behavioral changes have since been accelerated and will stay with us for a long time, if not forever.
Today, a great CX is about making every aspect of the customer journey as seamless and smooth as possible. It’s equally about using innovation and intelligent technology to provide customers with a positive experience, heeding to their expectations through every single touchpoint with your company.
CX is not going away. In order for your company to succeed, CX needs to be a priority, and exceptional experiences for your customers must be delivered.
The State of Improving CX
In a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, improving CX was named a top-five business priority by 58% of the nearly 1,000 executive respondents. However, only 17% claim themselves to be CX leaders today.
Improving CX isn’t an easy task. It requires significant organizational, managerial and operational change with deep commitment.
A lot goes into creating a great customer experience. Exploring how customer experience is changing in a digitally enabled world is a part of that.
3 Ways to Meet Customer Experience Expectations
Customer experience is the total perception of the company, interaction by interaction, from the first to the last touch points. Harley Manning, Vice President and Research Director of Boston-based Forrester Research, attributes a great CX to a customer’s perceptions of three things:
- Useful: delivering value
- Usable: easily accessible and engaging with the value
- Enjoyable: emotionally, thoughtfully engaging
Where companies put their greatest emphasis is entirely dependent on the industry your company is in. But creating a streamlined experience is crucial for all.
The Covid-19 pandemic put lots of companies’ CX to the test. The Harvard Business Review Analytics Services survey also revealed that 34% of the respondents offered or upgraded online transactions in response to changing customer demands due to Covid-19.
Today, customer expectations for good experiences keep soaring. They expect callback options, chat windows on your website, and instant replies. They expect that you already know who they are and why they’re calling, their most recent order, and what they need next. No repeating information and no waiting.
With the technological advances, customers have more choice and greater freedom to take their business elsewhere if their expectations are not being met. This gives consumers an upper hand when dealing with companies.
In fact, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services, according to a Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report.
It’s not enough for companies to provide a personalized CX. The bar is set very high in order to stand out from other companies.
Customers want companies to treat them like individuals, a tailored engagement based on their unique needs. While niche brands were the first to offer unique customer experiences, it is now the expectation consumers have of mass-market companies as well. The good news is that customers are willing to pay a premium for a greater experience.
Essential Elements of CX to Address
Tailored engagement is just one of the essential elements of customer experience. The other is insight.
Attaining CX insights that are meaningful can help companies reach more customers, create awareness about their brands, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and, ultimately, generate more revenue.
What Are Customer Experience Insights?
Customer experience insights are the findings that are gained from an analysis of customer feedback and interactions with your business. Engaging with your customers in any type of study or survey helps you determine how your customers interact with the business and how they are feeling about your brand.
How to Gather Insights
One of the easiest ways to get customer insights is simply by asking customers what they think. Surveys and questionnaires can lead to powerful take-aways.
The challenge, though, is many customers may be afraid or unwilling to share their full opinion or give minimal viable feedback. Therefore, this method cannot act alone as it will not give you the full picture.
If your company doesn’t have access to a large amount of customer feedback—enough to make decisions from—you can draw insights from third-party data. This would include market research performed by larger organizations with a wider audience. Being aware of trends in your industry can help you understand your own customers more.
An increasing number of companies are tapping into a variety of data sources outside their customer data to improve their CX. They’re using AI and advanced analytics to derive meaningful data from that wealth of information. An AI-enabled machine learning platform can provide accurate CX insights through analysis of big data.
From this collected data, customer insights can improve your CX and measure what can be implemented to improve it.
38% of respondents say they are using AI today.
68% expect they will be using it within the next two years.
Source: Harvard Business Review Analytic Services
Ways To Use Customer Insights
- Increased Customer Satisfaction: CX insights tell brands how customers value your service, and this can be used to tailor your offerings to match customers’ needs and preferences exactly.
- Product Enhancements: Offering products that not only outperform competitors, but meet your customers’ changing needs, requirements, and expectations.
- New Market Outreach: Customers who are loyal to your business will promote it for you, and you’ll be able to attract new customers.
- Competitor Awareness: CX insights provide a view into what competitors are doing, how their marketing strategies are faring, and how the public perceives your company in comparison.
Review Your Organizational Structure
Organizational challenges are the largest factors affecting the proper use of gathered customer data that can be transformed into valuable insights. For many B2B companies, it can be difficult to track an individual’s journey across multiple channels, purchases, devices, and interactions, which often leads to disjointed and inconsistent CX.
A 360-degree customer view is a collection all off of your customer’s data in one place. Typically stored in a customer relationship management (CRM) system such as Salesforce, companies can track all customer touchpoints into a single, digital profile. Having access to all the customer service related interactions is paramount for getting a full understanding of a customer.
Organizational Changes Required For a Greater CX
From the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Survey, 31% of respondents say they currently have a single 360-degree view of customer data. Half of those say they lack the organizational structure to make use of those insights. Here are some tips for where to focus:
Customer Experience Management
Customer experience management (CXM) is a system of marketing strategies and technologies that center on customer engagement, satisfaction, and experience. A CXM mindset prioritizes the entire end-to-end customer experience’s personalization. This approach to relationships with customers goes beyond marketing tools and software, putting the customers at the center of the business.
Effective CXM achieves a deeper understanding of customers, driving loyalty and retention while maintaining a competitive edge. Focusing on your customers’ experiences and making technology feel more human creates a win-win scenario for both you and your customers.
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer journey. It helps tell the story of your customers’ experiences across all touch points with your brand.
Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a customer journey map. This exercise helps businesses see the customer’s perspective, gaining insights into common customer frustrations and how to improve them.
Customer journey mapping is important, as it helps to better understand customer expectations and optimizes the opportunity to create personalized experiences across all touch points for every individual.
The biggest benefit of journey mapping is understanding your customers more. The better you understand their expectations, the more you can tailor the CX to their needs.
A Look at Key Parts of the Customer Journey
- Shipping Options: Shipping is a major part of the CX and appropriate shipping time is imperative. Ensure the shipping time is obvious to the purchaser, and outline the shipping options clearly before the user makes the purchase. This alleviates customer stress of not knowing when something will arrive. It additionally eliminates customer calls of missing or delayed parcels.
- Website Improvements: The ability to easily navigate your website is a crucial factor towards the CX. Easy navigation at every level and an intuitive design that grabs a visitor’s attention makes all the difference in the overall experience. Online communication, like a live chat feature, offers a personal connection for the customers and is a key way to accelerate CX at any touchpoint. And customer portals ensure personalized content that can drive up the value your website can deliver for customers.
- Email Campaigns: Customers like to know you care. A professional, helpful, and quick email checking in on customers, allowing them to ask questions, seeing if there is anything else you can do for them, is an integral part of your CX. The design of your email campaign should be easy to navigate, be accessible across devices, and most importantly, contain engaging and personalized content.
Measuring CX Success
CX metrics have several uses that could prove beneficial for your business. They can be used to communicate the rationale for previous investments, confirm whether performance has improved, and set goals for future improvements. While there are many metrics used, here are a few to consider:
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): CSATs are the most traditional metric where data can be captured through a simple survey asking about satisfaction, product review ratings, or timeliness of deliveries.
- Customer Retention/Loyalty/Churn: These metrics are predictive of the likelihood of a customer remaining your customer. Examples would include purchase frequency, loyalty program participation, repeat orders, and return rates.
- Advocacy/Reputation/Brand: The best way to advertise is by word-of-mouth. These metrics determine the level at which customers would be willing to recommend or ensure your company’s products and services.
The Future of CX is Bright
Customers today expect a more connected and integrated CX, willing to find organizations that are meeting their needs. Improving CX is a critical way for businesses, of all types, to prosper in the years ahead.
While many are still in the early stages of becoming more customer-centric, those who claim it as a top business priority and build out these capabilities will continue to compete in their industry.