As an entrepreneur with aspirations for your growing business, you know that you need to establish a planned strategy to ensure a stellar customer experience for all your clients. But you have to walk before you can run, so let's break down what customer experience (CX) means exactly in relation to your business. Customer experience is the total sum of all the interactions which unfold between a customer and an organization throughout their working relationship together. As you read through these eleven steps that will help you create an excellent customer experience strategy, you'll realize how these techniques can help your business thrive. Providing incredible customer service will not only improve the customer experience and help you gain new clientele but will also result in lasting customer relationships.
What is a Customer Experience Strategy?
A customer experience strategy encompasses all the steps your company takes before, during, and after sales to ensure that customers remain happy and cared for. It includes all your “CX strategies” and research into your competitors, customers, and market. You’ll take all these steps while centering your company’s mission statement and vision in your strategy.
Is Customer Experience the Same as Customer Service?
Customer service is only one aspect of delivering a great customer experience. The customer experience encompasses each and every interaction someone has with not just your customer support team, but your whole brand. That means your website, your social media, your storefront, and more than just your customer service. Each potential touchpoint between your company and your customers is part and parcel of the customer experience, both in person and online.
How Important is the Customer Experience?
When you improve the customer experience, you increase your sales. In fact, according to one study by Oracle, three in every four senior executives have seen a positive relationship between customer experience and customer loyalty. As such, the customer experience is a surefire way to reduce churn, and lower churn is always good. After all, acquiring new customers can be up to 25 times more expensive than retaining current ones, so investing in maintaining current customers and keeping them happy is a worthwhile investment for businesses of all sizes and in all industries.
The Impact of Bad Customer Experiences
A bad customer experience strategy doesn’t just handicap your potential new sales – it cuts away at your usual revenue. Every year, companies lose $62 billion to bad customer service, which is itself part of a poor customer experience. Additionally, almost all unhappy customers stop buying from companies without telling them, so you might never know that your customer experience is lacking. The solution, of course, is a robust customer experience design.
17 Steps To Take for a Great Customer Experience Strategy
Proper customer experience management involves the following steps:
1. Set A Goal
To begin tailoring your customer experience strategy to your organization is to set a clear, customer-centric goal. The easiest way to define this goal is to create a set of statements that will serve as a guiding vision or mission statement.
For example, American Express' mission statement reads, "We work hard every day to make American Express the world's most respected service brand." This influences every aspect of client interactions. Your mission statement should be well-known to every employee and should be implemented into all areas of training. Your staff's execution of this mission statement will help your business.
2. Appreciate Employee Feedback
Many companies and organizations don't fully appreciate or utilize employee feedback. Most will only release an annual survey to gain insight into their team's performance and morale, which is quite unfortunate. You may not realize it in the moment but continuous employee feedback really does play a huge role in your business' success.
Use project management software or social media to remain in constant contact with your staff. These tools enable staff to consistently contribute ideas on how to better understand and meet customer expectations. This will help you see your business as a whole. Your team's feedback is invaluable.
3. Assess Reachability
Your business' reachability plays a huge role in defining your customers' experience. If you're not able to meet potential or existing customers where they are, you're neglecting them. To increase your reachability, you must determine which channels of communication your customers are active on.
From there, familiarize your employees with the selected channel and bear in mind that these could range from social media and live chat to email. Reachability can serve as an extremely helpful tool, giving your company a competitive edge. Having a handle on your customers' main channels lets you provide reliable, consistent service to them.
4. Provide Convenient Service
With the rise of the internet and more specifically, social media, customers are free to conduct their research into products and solutions. But with this freedom comes an increased demand for service convenience. A business hoping to retain goodwill with its customers has no choice but to prioritize first-class online support.
This is not as hard as it sounds. Simply by providing an up-to-date knowledge base on the company website can make life much easier for your clients. Your clients will appreciate being able to help themselves without having to call or submit a ticket.
5. Understand Your Customers
A crucial component of customer experience principles is to fully understand your customers. Your business will attract customers who will interact with your customer support teams, and if your organization is truly going to become customer-centric, your staff must be able to empathize with the individual needs of your clients.
Segment your customers into personas with a name and personality. Through personas, your customer support team can understand who they are working with and understand their needs better. This is just another rung on the ladder to creating an effective and comprehensive customer experience strategy.
6. Make It Personal
Customer data can also enhance customer experience. By gathering client specifics, you can really personalize client experience. To provide the best customer experience, businesses should discover information that can be cataloged as a means to provide relevant suggestions or informed support in the future to their clients.
From the customer's perspective, personalization can serve as a sign of appreciation. While there are many techniques for assembling customer data, a shared inbox for your customer service department is a great tool. A transparent space where individuals can share customer conversations or requests lays the foundation for more contextual communication and outreach.
7. Connect With Customers
The best customer experiences are built when you encourage team members to create emotional connections with clientele. The Journal of Consumer Research discovered more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion. It is, after all, emotions that mold the attitudes that drive a customer's decision-making process.
Stalwart customers are emotionally entwined with their favorite companies. Their fond memories of a product or service keep them coming back. Businesses that optimize emotional connections will have an advantage over their competitors. Engaged customers are less likely to shop around and more like to continually purchase from their chosen company.
8. Build an Intuitive Website
Nothing drives away a client base like difficult-to-navigate websites. Nowadays, your company's website must be easy to use on a regular laptop or desktop computer as well as on mobile. Your business must provide a simple, hassle-free browsing experience for established customers and potential new clients.
To stay on-trend and increase your website's traffic, you'll need to make the simplification of website navigation for all browsing types a major target. Difficult navigation on mobile doesn't mean your customers will make their way to a desktop. Most likely they'll search out your competitors on their mobile device.
9. Automate Your Processes
As the roots of your customer experience strategy take hold, your business might acquire increasingly more customers. This influx of customers means you’ll need to put in much more work to provide personalized service to each customer. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) software help solve this problem.
With marketing automation technology, certain customer actions can result in your company automatically sending a personalized, customer-centric email. This approach puts your business in front of the customers who might need it the most. Similarly, a live chatbot on your website helps your customers get answers around the clock when nobody’s around to pick up the phone.
10. Build a Reliable Team
As with all things business, you can’t create a meaningful customer experience by your lonesome. You’ll need employees to help you, but not just any employees – you should only hire team players and self-starters who show a propensity for prioritizing customer expectations.
These kinds of employees are ideal to involve in the formation of your customer experience strategy from start to finish. For example, customer support agents well-versed in prioritizing customers’ wants and needs may have excellent ideas about how to optimize your customer service. Software engineers may understand how your website and app can make your customers happy. Choose your employees carefully, and a comprehensive customer experience strategy could result.
11. Prioritize a Good User Experience In Design
A good customer experience lacks anything resembling bad user experience (UX) design. This type of design is the process of creating tangible products, as well as websites and apps, that are intuitive and easy to use. Its end goal is to provide a rewarding customer experience that increases lead conversion rates and retains current customers.
To achieve this mission, make sure that navigating your website follows a logical, simple order of steps. Do the same for your company’s mobile app if you have one. The idea is to make interacting with your company like following a simple list of instructions. This way, your customers face no frustrations that could lead to a poor experience.
12. Have Some Personality
Bad design can pertain to more than your website. It can also apply to your logo and branding, with which you shouldn’t be afraid to have some fun. A logo that’s exciting for you may feel the same for your customers, thereby making for a more engaging customer experience.
Just as inviting as a fun logo is a brand voice that infuses your website and social media with a tone uncommon among competitors. Virtually anything you can do to not sound stifled should result in a meaningful customer experience.
13. Make Smart Use of Technology
You simply can’t create a customer experience without technology. Software as basic as social media scheduling platforms or as complex as customer relationship management (CRM) software both substantially affect the customer experience. The former makes engaging your customers on channels they already use far easier, and the latter ensures that your team actually knows your customers. Both these aspects elevate the customer experience.
14. Remain Proactive
A reactive customer experience strategy is doomed to fail. For example, measuring customer satisfaction only after a wave of negative reviews means you’ve missed your chance to fix a mistake that kneecapped your customer retention. Instead, you should execute all steps in your strategy before they become urgent. If you’re prepared today, you’ll be safer tomorrow.
15. Capture Customer Feedback
There is no need to be shy when inquiring about your customers' experience with your business. Actually, it is best if you do this by asking for their feedback in real-time. You can execute this strategy through the utilization of live chat tools to have real-time conversations. When a team member has completed the customer interaction, they can send a follow-up email to every customer using post-interaction surveys and similar tools.
Always be sure to tie customer feedback to a specific customer support agent. This helps you see the difference that every team member makes to the business.
16. Measure Your ROI
After reviewing all these practical investments in your team's training and business tools you may be wondering how you can actually measure the success of your customized strategy. You will be able to do so through the business results.
You can actually quantify the customer experience through the use of the Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is an excellent, efficient benchmark to measure the overall customer experience by. This tool gathers priceless material from your customers simply by asking, “Would you recommend this company to a friend or relative?” Its simplicity makes it a widely-used tool across business sectors.
Additionally, you can use two metrics known as the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) to quantify the customer experience. CSAT is best used immediately after a sale, the onboarding process, or a support encounter. CES surveys are exclusive to support encounters, as the customer feedback they obtain shows how effectively your team is meeting customers’ needs. Both CSAT and CES show you not just your results, but what you can do to improve them.
17. Install a Quality Framework
Your customers think about the quality of the services you offer in comparison to the customer experience. This means that it's imperative that your next step be the identification of specific training needs for your customer support team. A quality framework requires you to invest in your team and your business. Track your team's development with tools like coaching and eLearning. Group training is another technique that lets your team practice face-to-face interactions. It also allows them to communicate directly with each other if there's any confusion with regard to certain questions that may arise during the training.
Michelangelo didn't carve the sculpture of David in a day, and there's no reason to expect your customer experience strategy will be fully formulated in such a quick timeframe either. Don't be afraid to continually work on finessing and editing these major customer experience management techniques. Be aware that the only constant is change, and be prepared to make the changes that will best benefit your business. As you continue to educate yourself on what it means to interact with customers on their playing field and deftly ascertain how best to use client data along the way, you'll discover a newfound ease when it comes to crafting customer experience that will empower you to make practical and smart decisions about your organization's customer experience strategy.