The massive changes in consumer behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic saw millions of people interact primarily with brands for the first time from a digital perspective.
Today, the importance of customer experience (CX) across all channels has never been more relevant to a brand’s success, as customer experience touches every aspect of a company’s operations and offerings.
Consumers are clear about what they are looking for in terms of a customer experience from the brands they interact with. According to a PWC survey, nearly 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience/ease of use, expert assistance, and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience.
Customer experience also has a significant impact on customer buying behavior.
73% of survey respondents said experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions, right behind price and product quality.
Customer experience pays off
In addition to influencing their purchasing decisions, customers are willing to pay more for a customer experience with the qualities that matter to them.
- 43% of consumers said they would pay more for greater comfort and convenience.
- 42% would pay more for a friendly and welcoming experience.
- In general, consumers will pay a premium of 16% for a great customer experience.
It’s up to your company’s business and technology leadership to harness the technologies that truly impact the quality of the customer experience in the ways consumers expect and focus on the most important components of the customer experience.
What are the critical components of the customer experience?
When customers feel appreciated by the brands they interact with, companies receive measurable results for their business.
Value in customer experience
63% of consumers said they would be more open to sharing their data for a product or service they really value.
Delivering and displaying value, not just messaging, to a consumer is one of the most important elements of a quality customer experience. It’s not just about running ads on a third-party site, but about providing quality content recommendations and offers that align well with consumer interests.
If one of your customers feels that he received value from your brand, he will trust you more and trust you with information from him. In turn, he will feel more valued because you are offering them things that they really need.
Not adding value to a customer coupled with a bad experience can be very detrimental to your business.
59% of consumers said they will move away from a brand after a couple of bad experiences.
17% said they would leave after just one bad experience.
Customer experience, reliable and available
The reliability of the systems and networks a customer connects to is critical to ensuring a great customer experience.
Organizations that have a high-quality customer experience will integrate their different channels into an omnichannel marketing program where customers can communicate to ensure a consistent response from a single user.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data management platforms (DMPs), and customer data platforms (CDPs) enable technology and marketing leaders to understand customer intent and needs through multiple channels. In this way, they can tailor the customer experience based on the customer’s history.
Modern business owners are implementing more self-help solutions to provide customers with access to assistance when live support personnel are not available.
AI-powered technologies such as chatbots take the strain off customer service staff. They also help route calls to the most qualified agent and determine the caller’s intent and tone.
Call-back technology is another way of trying to reduce the anger of customers facing long wait times. Nobody likes to face a recording so that after several options we continue without being able to talk to a human who listens to us.
It is important to plan well which needs of your clients you can solve in an automated way and which ones you must do in person.
Personalized customer experience
When customers engage with high-quality personalization, they feel valued and have a more positive view of your brand.
In fact, 71% of consumers expect companies to offer personalized interactions and 76% are frustrated when they don’t (source: McKinsey study).
I think you and I agree with this. 75% of business owners say personalization is critical to digital experiences (source: Twilio study).
With a well-planned and executed personalization strategy, companies can differentiate themselves from the competition while increasing engagement and improving customer satisfaction.
What does customer experience mean?
- Consumers and their demands. Technology, speed, convenience, friendliness and knowledge are key consumer demands, which can be opportunities for companies to improve their interaction with people and make investments more efficient.
- Customers generate profit. Employees drive the experience. Reducing consumer frustration and empowering employees to achieve customer satisfaction is key. This is achieved by focusing on the employee experience and a distinctive approach to physical-virtual interactions.
- Technology cannot solve experience problems. Technology is just an enabler. A great customer experience involves innovative ideas.
7 ways to improve the customer experience
Let’s take a look at seven ways you can create a great customer experience strategy to help you improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and increase revenue.
Create a clear vision of the customer experience
The first step in your customer experience strategy is to have a clear customer-centric vision that you can communicate to your organization.
The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles.
Example: Zappos uses its core family values and these values are embedded in its culture; which includes surprising through service, being humble and embracing change.
Once these principles are established, they will drive the behavior of your organization. Each member of your team should know these principles by heart, and they should be integrated into all areas of training and development.
Understand who your customers are
The next step in developing these customer experience principles is to bring to life the different types of customers that your customer service team deals with.
If your business is going to truly understand the needs and wants of customers, then they need to be able to connect and empathize with the situations their customers face.
One way to do this is to segment your customers and create personas (or customer profiles).
Try to give each character a name and a personality.
Example: Ana is 35 years old. She likes new technologies and is tech-savvy enough to follow a video tutorial on her own, while Juan (42 years old) needs to be able to follow clear instructions on a web page.
By creating personas, your customer service team can recognize who they are and better understand them. It’s also an important step in becoming truly customer-centric.
Create an emotional connection with your customers
Have you heard the phrase “it’s not what you say; it is how you say it”?
Well, the best customer experiences are achieved when a member of your team creates an emotional connection with a customer.
One of the best examples of creating an emotional connection comes from Zappos.
Example: A customer was late returning a pair of shoes due to the death of his mother. When Zappos found out what had happened, he handled the return shipping and had a courier pick up the shoes for free. But, Zappos didn’t stop there. The next day, the customer received a bouquet of flowers with a note from Zappos’ customer experience team sending their condolences.
Research by the Journal of Consumer Research has found that more than 50% of an experience is based on emotion, as emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions.
Customers become loyal because they are emotionally attached and remember how they feel when they use a product or service.
A company that optimizes for emotional connection outperforms the competition by 85% in sales growth.
Where does that feeling come from?
It comes from the experience you give them. How you handle your customers and make them feel, at every step of their journey, has a huge impact on if and when they buy, how long they stay, if they leave, and if they become enthusiastic fans.
A positive customer experience means a lot, studies prove it over and over again:
- 64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if it offers simpler experiences and communications.
- 71% of people recommend a product or service because they received a “great experience”.
- 65% of all consumers consider a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than good advertising.
Capture customer feedback in real time
How can you tell if you’re delivering a WOW customer experience?
You need to ask, and ideally, you do that by capturing feedback in real time.
Use live chat tools to have conversations in real time, and when you’re done, send a follow-up email to each customer using post-interaction surveys and similar customer experience tools.
Example: Super Office Service helps you collect feedback in real time, through email support, live chat, and a self-service knowledge base.
Of course, it’s possible to make outbound sales calls to customers to get more insightful feedback.
It’s also important to link customer feedback to a specific customer service agent, showing each team member the impact they’re having on the business.
Use a quality framework for the development of your team
By following the steps above, you now know what customers think about the quality of your service compared to the customer experience principles you’ve defined.
The next step is to identify the training needs of each individual member of your customer service and experience team.
Many companies assess the quality of phone and email communication; however, a quality index takes this assessment a step further by scheduling and tracking the development of your teams through coaching, e-learning, and group training.
Act on your employee feedback
Most companies have an annual survey process where they capture general feedback from their team; how committed they are and the ability of companies to provide exceptional service.
But what happens in the 11 months between these survey periods?
Usually, nothing happens. And this is where ongoing employee feedback can play an important role by using tools that allow your staff to share ideas on how to improve the customer experience and for managers to see how staff feel about the business.
Example: By using project management software or social media tools, you can create a closed environment where employees in your organization can continuously leave comments.
Measure the ROI of providing a great customer experience
And finally, how do you know if all this investment in your equipment, processes and technology is working and paying off?
The answer lies within the business results.
Measuring customer experience is one of the greatest challenges organizations face, which is why many companies use the “Net Promoter Score” or NPS, which collects valuable information by asking a single simple question:
“How likely are you to recommend us?”
NPS, which was created by Rob Markey and Fred Reichheld at Bain and Company, is a well-suited benchmark for a customer experience metric because many companies use it as the standard measure of customer experience.
And the fact that it is easy to implement and measure makes NPS a favorite with corporate boards and executive committees.
Optimize the customer journey
When it comes to creating a great customer experience, it’s important to consider the entire customer journey.
McKinsey research suggests that customer journeys are significantly more strongly correlated with business outcomes than touchpoints.
This means you need a clear understanding of end-to-end customer experiences and how interactions present themselves at each point.
Focusing on a customer’s journey and identifying the issues within them offers new opportunities to create a great customer experience. This also allows your teams to brainstorm ways to reduce friction, improve business relationships, and increase growth.
When it comes to performance, the customer journey is 30% to 40% more correlated with customer satisfaction than contact point performance, and 20% to 30% more correlated with bottom-line commercial results.
Conclusions on customer experience
Customer expectations are higher than ever, and word of mouth travels fast!
And as the customer becomes even more powerful, the importance of the customer experience increases.
Customer experience is an area that needs constant care, and with an increased focus on customer experience strategy, companies will see a positive impact on customer loyalty, increased retention, and increased revenue growth.
I have said it in several Blogs before, in this digital world you no longer control what is said about your brand. This power today is held by your customers. You only have to make the experience of your customers memorable.
Until next time.