A customer’s perception of your brand, including everything from social media ads to eventual purchases, is called customer experience (CX).
On the other hand, customer service is simply a customer’s interaction with someone from your customer service team.
That individual may be helpful, but your company should follow that with personalization or feedback implementation to create a holistic positive customer experience. A positive CX can lead to a loyal customer base, while a negative one can turn away potential customers.
So, the obvious question is: how to improve customer experience?
This article contains:
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- How to Improve Customer Experience in 10 Simple Steps
Let’s dive in.
How to improve customer experience in 10 simple steps
More than 80% of companies today compete solely on customer experience (CX).
Forbes even called it a priority rather than a luxury!
So, let’s learn ten ways you can commit to improving customer experience and succeeding in this digital world.
1. Create a customer journey map
Before implementing any customer experience strategy, you need to understand what a potential customer goes through.
You can do this through a customer journey map, where you visually represent a customer’s journey with your brand. A comprehensive map will include various touchpoints, from online advertising to customer support.
For instance, Customer-A may find your brand through social media advertising while Customer-B does through word-of-mouth recommendations.
It’s essential to understand how these different beginnings can lead to a vastly different individual customer journey.
By visualizing the overall customer experience, you can identify gaps in your current strategy and refocus your efforts there.
Additionally, these maps can help you gauge future customer behavior and quickly reorient to the same when cross-referenced with core metrics.
2. Know your customers
You can’t serve your customers if you don’t know them.
When you understand your customers’ needs, wants, and desires, you can create a CX strategy to address their specific concerns.
To do this, you’ll need some basic information about your current customers. This existing customer data will help your digital marketing team create buyer personas.
What are buyer personas?
They’re semi-fictional characters that define your ideal consumer and their behavior.
For instance, Andy, a millennial, can probably figure out how to use your service with minimal instructions. But George, a 50-year-old, might need a video walkthrough.
These buyer personas are extremely important as they can help you identify your customers’ pain points and preferences. This way, you can ensure your marketing and customer support teams address and soothe these pain points, creating a loyal customer base.
All you’re doing is providing a personalized experience to everyone. The more you personalize your service, the higher your customer satisfaction scores.
3. Have a clear brand message
A surefire way to improve customer experience is to have a clear brand message.
- What does your brand stand for?
- What is the one message you want to communicate to your customers?
You need to craft a message that conveys how you can address customer needs or alleviate their pain points.
The message can also help serve as a vision board for your company and employees. It’ll help you navigate changing market trends by staying true to your original messaging.
Once you’re sure about this messaging, make it your identity.
When this message is evident to everyone, new customers will know what to expect from your brand. As a result, you’ll reduce the gap between customer expectation and experience.
4. Put the customer first
Companies often create marketing strategies centered around them rather than the customers.
But this won’t invite new customers to explore your brand.
If you want traffic, leads, or higher customer engagement, you need to think about serving the customer.
Put yourself in their shoes and see where you need improvement.
- Make your website clean, with a straightforward navigation structure.
- Try to make your mobile site load in less than two seconds to improve your conversion rate.
- Enable customers to complete the entire buying process, from research to purchase, through their smartphone.
- Don’t bombard customers with ads or direct them to irrelevant pages.
- Create content that answers the customers’ questions directly.
- Preferably have an FAQs page to encourage self-service.
- Stay active on your social media and respond to every message.
- Deliver your product/service on time.
- Send emails thanking customers for their purchases. If it’s a physical product, send update emails.
- Try to implement common feedback quickly.
Your customer wants to browse your site quickly, find answers, and get on with their day.
When you make this entire process clean, user experience skyrockets, and with it, your revenue and image.
5. Improve your customer service
Did you know that American Express found that 17% of people are willing to pay more for great customer service?
Let’s look at some ways you can improve your customer service across the board.
A) Offer omnichannel support
The main focus of an omnichannel CX strategy is to deliver a seamless customer service experience and keep up with changing customer demands.
Today, customers reach out to brands through various channels such as:
- Live chat.
- Social media.
- Phone support.
As a result, most companies today prioritize their contact center to offer online and offline customer service.
Contact centers are essential as they collect and distribute all available information to the customer service team, providing a consistent buying process for every customer.
An omnichannel strategy is also beneficial for your bottom line as customers spend more money for every used channel. It comes out to 10% more purchases online and 4% more in-store compared to single-channel customers.
B) Provide self-service options
Millennials prefer to self-serve rather than talk to a representative. Even then, they choose to do so via non-verbal methods such as chatbots and email. Company FAQs allow them to solve their issues without human interaction, while chatbots provide fast, effective, real-time solutions.
However, research has found that consumers also want the option to easily switch to a live human conversation if needed.
When you provide your customer the choice to engage with your brand the ways they want to, you’ll likely have higher satisfaction rates. These will directly translate into reduced customer churn and higher customer retention.
C) Pay attention to your social media
These days, a brand’s social media presence gives it legitimacy. Customers research a brand thoroughly before making any buying decisions – this includes social media.
However, while many brands think they provide a great customer experience on social media, most customers disagree.
Research has found that 20% of companies don’t even respond to customer complaints on social media. Even when they do, it’s often delayed.
Since social media carries an expectation of fast response times, most customers expect a response in less than 30 minutes.
These stats are important as social media is a mainstay in consumers’ day-to-day behavior.
If a brand isn’t active on social media, it leads to a poor customer experience and, eventually, a revenue loss.
To keep up, a company should ideally have a dedicated social media team and even consider outsourcing some of these duties to provide 24/7 service.
6. Utilize artificial intelligence (AI)
One of the easiest ways to provide self-service options is by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) like chatbots.
Chatbots, in particular, can help provide a better digital customer experience in the following ways:
- Chatbots will help solve 80% of basic customer queries, freeing up your support team for more complicated queries.
- Since they run on AI, bots are available for customers round the clock.
- Bots pull product information from your site to answer customer queries. As a result, your customer is more educated about your product/service and company.
- Bots can reduce the time customers take to make a purchase.
Bots can also use predictive personalization to anticipate future customer behavior and provide content for the same.
Especially when it comes to eCommerce stores, chatbots can be the difference between a customer choosing you or your competitor.
7. Personalize customer experience
With so many companies fighting for the customer’s attention, personalization can help one brand stand above the rest.
In fact, 90% of marketers agree that personalization significantly improves profits.
The personalization process depends on many factors.
For instance, you need to start attracting the right audience through targeted advertising.
Once a customer interacts with your brand, you need to track their journey – which web pages they visit, how long they spend on your site, etc.
Using this customer data, you can create hyper-personalized content for that individual. You can also ensure the customer receives this content at the right time through their preferred channels.
Hyper-personalization allows you to create meaningful customer relationships, deepen existing ones, and boost overall brand loyalty.
When customers feel special through personalized offers, recommendations, and other content, they’re more likely to make repeated purchases. Happy customers who had a good customer experience also provide authentic word-of-mouth marketing.
8. Reward loyal customers
Rewarding loyal customers and appreciating their continued engagement is a great customer experience strategy.
Your customer loyalty programs can include:
- Free shipping.
- Exclusive offers on their favorite brands/products.
- Gifts on their birthday.
- Loyalty points they can use later for discounts.
- Sending them hand-written thank you notes.
These loyalty programs are often a staple for bigger brands as it helps them retain existing customers. According to one study, a 5% customer retention rate can boost profits by 25%.
Depending on the customer, you can personalize their reward as well.
For instance, if an influencer often uses your service, you can give them a shoutout on social media. As a result, you increase your brand awareness and gain access to a new market.
9. Implement customer feedback
For a business to be truly customer-centric, you need customer feedback and insights.
These may often hold important clues about changing consumer behavior.
A) Ask for feedback
You have to ask for feedback at every step of the process, at every customer interaction.
Measuring customer experience can be as simple as holding more public polls on your social media. Customers can leave comments, and you can quickly see how many agree with a particular point.
If it’s a comment many people have in common, that needs to be a priority.
However, some may not want to offer criticism on a public platform. Here, anonymous forms can help you gain a clearer insight into specific issues and allow customers to air their grievances.
B) Reply to all
You should try to reply to every customer that reaches out to you.
These customers took time out of their day to speak to you. Some may have genuine concerns or criticisms that may not reach management.
To keep track and reply to all, you can use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that collects and integrates information across the customer’s lifecycle with your company.
When you reply, be empathetic. Always thank the customer for the feedback, appreciate when they praise you, and apologize for any bad experiences they may have had.
Why is this important?
Being an empathetic company can exponentially increase your financial value. Additionally, responding to public reviews can increase your online visibility.
However, try not to rely on automated replies.
A slight, personal touch provides a better customer experience by creating a positive association with your company.
C) Involve your employees
Your customers can provide tons of constructive feedback, but it’s no use unless it’s implemented. And this includes all your employees.
After all, it’s not just your frontline employees that have to deal with customers, but specific concerns can involve different departments.
For instance, if you’re selling a physical product and a customer hasn’t received the confirmation email or tracking number, then your IT department needs to take a look. Maybe there’s an issue with the ticket automation system.
At the same time, your employees are equally important in the success of your company.
If a single department is constantly overworking itself due to customer feedback, you might take a closer look at the department itself. Not only would the constant criticism bring morale down, but the long hours can seriously affect the overall employee experience.
In the long run, happy employees lead to happy customers.
So, it’s important to prioritize your employees’ experiences and create a positive working environment.
10. Use analytics
You have many key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure customer satisfaction, such as:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): How willing are existing customers to recommend your company to their loved ones. You need to revise your CX strategy if this number is low.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): A transactional metric measuring customer satisfaction on a scale of 1-5.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): How much effort does your customer put in to finish their task, e.g., make a purchase, receive support, etc.
- Customer Churn Rate: It’s the percentage of customers who stop doing business with you.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): How much revenue can you reasonably expect from a single customer throughout their business lifecycle.
While these metrics are important for customer experience management, take note of qualitative measures such as common feedback elements.
You can also use Customer Sentiment to analyze how a customer interacts with your support team.
Customer experience has become the primary differentiator between competing brands.
Since customers have many options these days, it’s crucial to prioritize them and their journeys throughout the buying process.
You can start by mapping out these customer journeys, visualizing them, and creating buyer personas. You should also utilize available technology and look at implementing customer feedback regularly.
Finally, to provide the best customer experience in an ever-changing marketplace, you need to continue trying new approaches, putting the customer first.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.