As marketeers, we are often caught up in the daily grind of marketing campaigns and promotional activities.
But as influencers for our brands, we have an obligation to not only deliver great content but also a phenomenal customer experience.
We all know that customers expect more from us than just a good product or service - they want excellent customer care and exceptional quality of service.
When you fail to live up to this expectation by providing lackluster customer experiences, it can cost your company dearly because people will always talk about their bad experiences with your products or services.
If you really want them coming back time after time, then you need a plan for delivering an amazing CX strategy every single day.
How To Choose The Best Customer Experience Management
It's well-known that a customer's experience with a brand is a major part of what makes or breaks a relationship. For example, in an American Express survey, one in three respondents said they would not return to a business again after a single bad experience.
Because of this, more and more brands are leveraging data to find out what their customers are experiencing and how to improve.
However, dealing with all that data and understanding what it means can be challenging. Fortunately, an easy-to-use customer experience management (CMX or CEM) platform makes it possible to manage and understand the quality of your brand experience.
A good customer experience platform will allow you to get insights for every customer-facing touchpoint you care about.
Your customer experience management software should help you organize, automate, and sync data and insights so that you can service all your existing customers efficiently, respond quickly to issues, and use what you learn to keep current customers and earn new business.
Here are the top 7 questions to consider:
What are you trying to accomplish by gathering feedback?
This is the million-dollar question. Your goals for implementing a customer experience program dictate the features you'll need.
- Is there a global behaviour (a drop in customer retention) you can't easily explain?
- Is there a specific customer pain point you’ve already identified that you want deeper insight on how to fix?
- Do you need a way to help monitor and improve the performance of your customer service team?
- Are you looking for a way to improve the adoption of a new product feature?
- Once you have an idea of what you’re trying to accomplish, the feature set will make itself clear. The remaining questions below help you think through the options.
How many survey types do you want?
When you evaluate solutions, make sure the customer feedback surveys provided cover all your bases.
The two categories of surveys to use are based on the type of feedback you want: relational feedback or transactional feedback.
Relational feedback surveys (e.g. Net Promoter Score) gauge how your customers feel about your brand overall, while transactional feedback surveys (e.g. Customer Satisfaction or Customer Effort Score surveys) focus on specific customer touchpoints, such as the quality of a customer service interaction.
Read our guide on relationship versus transactional surveys for a detailed breakdown of use cases.
Most businesses will use multiple survey types and various scales types, such as smiley faces or stars. The ability to customize additional questions to get deeper insights into your customer base is also a plus.
In short, look for a customer experience platform that will give you access to the customer experience surveys you anticipate wanting.
What channels will you use to send surveys to your customers?
If you reach out to customers in the channels they're used to, they'll be more likely to respond to your surveys. So, when you're thinking about gathering feedback, consider what survey distribution method you'll be using.
Email, web or in-app, and link surveys are popular since they're convenient for the customer and easy for the business to deploy. SMS surveys, provided you have permission to text your customers, are also a good option.
How easily can the system be set up?
Can you do it quickly without having to dig into the code? Do you have access to software developers and designers to implement your survey program?
If a system is too complicated to implement, it can keep your team away from the work that they were hired for.
When vetting a solution, consider the internal resources at your disposal. For example, a lightweight, turnkey CMX solution might be what you need to get your program off the ground.
Do you want to integrate your feedback back into your existing toolset?
If you are using Shopify or Zendesk, look for a CX platform that can trigger survey sends based on customer behaviour and automatically export and incorporate the feedback data.
This way, you can avoid duplicating effort transferring information back and forth, and your team won't have to learn a new platform. Instead, they can act off of customer feedback in their day-to-day tools.
How are you going to be analyzing the feedback?
Some people love segmenting and analyzing data in Excel. Others, not so much.
CMX platforms with built-in analysis and reporting tools cut down on the amount of time you need to dig for insights.
On the other hand, if you have a robust setup, maybe all you need your CMX platform to do is pipe all the feedback data into your analytics platform.
What sort of service can you expect?
When you have an issue, you don't want to waste precious hours straightening it out yourself. Instead, look for a CX company that offers white-glove service that is considered best in class.
14 ways to create a great customer experience strategy
Understand your audience and create buyer personas
Understand your customers. Who are they? What are their motivations? The only access to in-depth intelligence will allow you to gain the depth of knowledge required.
There are two ways to do it:
- Profile the types of customers your customer service team deals with every day. This is a great way to understand the customer's needs.
- Once you have enough information, create buyer personas. Maximize effectiveness by representing real people. Human beings mean emotion, vital to customer experience.
- Perhaps we end up creating Jack, a 32-year-old male who's saving to buy a car.
You can see how this Spotify campaign used buyer personas. But, again, knowledge of the audience created a level of familiarity through tailored messaging.
Analyze the business mission, vision and processes
Want a successful CX strategy? Then you need a proper understanding of your business objectives.
What is the main goal? New customers? Entering a new market? Perhaps you are launching products into a current marketplace?
Review brand studies and identify the barriers. Then, how can they be overcome?
Create long-term goals. How can your CX strategy help to achieve them? Then, build a customer experience strategy with the customers' happiness in mind. Happy customers mean a successful business.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What technology, people or processes are needed to fulfil objectives through customer Experience strategy?
- What gaps exist between customer expectation and experience?
- How good are internal processes at supporting customers?
- Which tools can be used to improve customer experience
Reverse-engineer the experience you want to deliver
Apple brand guru Steve Jobs advocated "beginning with the customer experience and working backward to the technology".
Here are some ideas to do this:
- List your brand's customer experience stages. Where are the opportunities to make an impression? Showcase your USP. For Amazon, for example, it's early delivery.
- Focus on practical issues, even the very smallest. Forget about the superficial.
- Use tools like Fiverr autofill on forms to save users time. Small touches like these make a big difference.
Hire team players and get them invested in the process
Employees are key to creating a great customer experience. Damien Peillon, from Logogenie, trains employees to pay attention to customers. For example, if a customer mentions a birthday when making a reservation, the manager will come over to wish them well at the table.
What can we learn from this?
Pay attention to the details. Knowing customers likes and dislikes the chance to act on them, personalizing the experience.
But you do need the right people in place to do this.
Use these tips to find the right people:
- Focus on skills that matter. Interpersonal skills, the ability to interact and connect with people, and maintain calm in a crisis.
- Create a set of principles to follow so customer interactions are consistently smooth.
Eliminate bad design early in the game.
As we discussed earlier, user experience (UX) is key. Website and app design matter, of course, but customer experience design is crucial.
Customers pour in from all channels, all on the hunt for something from your brand. They could be just one bad experience away from leaving you forever.
Plan every stage of the customer experience carefully, from discovery to purchase and advocacy. Then, you can control the customer experience.
When your website traffic hits 500-2000 visitors per day, you can also turn it into a steady source of revenue with programmatic or contextual ads that complement user experience instead of interrupting it. More about it here.
Three design tips for creating a great customer experience:
- Create a consistent brand experience across your website, apps, email, and social media channels. Take inspiration from Etsy's orange and white theme. Etsy cx
- Eliminate unnecessary hurdles and streamline the process to purchase. Make it easy to find the right information or service.
- Emotion factor. Wufoo included emoji faces in their app, ranging from super smiley to mega grumpy. Customers were asked to rate how they were feeling based on this scale.
Attend to customer needs and use feedback loops
Thinking back to the Bain & Company research from earlier, 80 per cent of companies believe they are providing great customer service, but only 8 per cent of customers agree with them.
How can you know customers' needs without asking? How can you assess brand value without asking? That's why it's essential to create feedback loops. Here's how:
- Use post-interaction and real-time feedback surveys. Follow up with customers over the phone for more details.
- Pay attention to what is being said about you on social media. This is where customers are usually the most honest.
- If you keep your ear to the ground, you'll hear customers telling you exactly what they want.
Research your competitors and create goals and objectives
Analyze competitors and market trends to build a clear picture. Then, use internal and external tools. When you know where improvement is needed, you can then use this to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be—creating strategic goals and objectives that help implement a successful CX strategy.
Build systems for quick and effective resolutions
Having analyzed the customer feedback, it's time to respond. Every stage in the customer lifecycle should have a hidden support system in place.
Place control in the customers' hands. Don't force your support on them, but show them it is there and how to access it.
Here are some ways to provide customer support:
- Live chat features like the one by Acquire are convenient for customers browsing your website. Whilst hidden, it's there for easy access when needed. A quick response time can improve a prospect's perception of your brand and even prompt a purchase. Add to this the opportunity to provide video-based assistance, and your customers will feel truly cared for.
- With customers taking to social media platforms in their droves, venting frustrations and on the hunt for information, it’s crucial to have a support executive active at all times.
- Traditional feedback forms still serve a purpose. You can even use the space on feedback forms for humour and fun.
Incorporate a memorable brand personality
Loads of smartphones can rival iPhone, but Apple remains the only smartphone company making a profit.
- It's special being in the Apple family. A massive, loyal customer base has grown out of a unique brand personality. Customers buy into this.
- Think also Charmin. Taco Bell. Old Spice.
- Think about this. If your brand was a person, what kind of person would it be?
Apply AI or machine learning to deliver a better experience
More than 6 out of 10 U.S customers prefer a digital self-service tool (website, mobile app or online tutorial) over a call or video chat for resolving issues. This experience can be enhanced by AI tech.
Here are some benefits of AI:
- AI enables auto-responses to routine customer queries, guiding your audiences with carefully curated content.
- AI customer service interactions reduce the need to attend every customer conversation, allowing your agents to focus on more complex issues.
- AI lets you segment your user base and increase personalization. With records of subscribers' email browsing data, web pages visited, and past interactions, AI can auto-send personalized messages and even track their responses.
- AI can draw on past interactions, making sure that the customer gets the most relevant experience.
Replace marketing with customer service
Marketing means educating customers on what's great about your products and services, pushing them towards purchase. Digitalization has drastically shifted customers decision-making processes.
They put in the hard yards when it comes to research. They are already aware of the pros and cons of your product/service. Customer service then becomes a key differentiator.
It's invaluable for assuring customers you are interested in more than just selling. Let them know you are there to help them in every possible way.
Understand your customer experience metrics
Failing to measure your customer experience means missing out on valuable information to boost your customer experience strategy. Remember, if it can't be measured, it can't be improved.
There's plenty of data out there: average response and resolution time, for example.
It's not all about the front line, though. Just tracking and measuring customer-facing team performance won't provide the whole picture. Don't forget that the teams behind the scenes can have a big impact on customer experience.
Focus on quantitative insights:
- NPS - Net Promoter Score shows the percentage of your customers who would/wouldn’t recommend your company to their friends, family, or colleagues.
- CSAT - Customer Satisfaction Score is a transactional metric showing how satisfied customers are with a recent interaction. This is often purchase or a customer service call. It's flexible and highly customizable.
- CES - Customer Effort Score shows the effort expended by customers in accomplishing a task. It could be getting a support request handled or finding the product they were looking for.
Make use of the right technology and tools.
In 2008, only 12 per cent of businesses had cloud-based Customer Service Management Tools. Now it's 87 per cent.
Companies are chomping at the bit to adopt the specialized customer-centric tech. Small wonder when these tools reduce the workload of an organization by 67 per cent. It would be madness to ignore this kind of increase in efficiency and reliability.
- Engage customers across multiple channels, all in one place.
- Increase customer engagement with automated messages tailored to customers/visitors profiles.
- Reduce churn with predictive analytics.
- Measure your customer experience strategy quantitatively.
Optimize your customer experience strategy
A customer experience strategy is an ongoing process. Adopt a continuous improvement approach. Measure, optimize, repeat.
Here are some tips on how:
- Don't forget the little details.
- Leverage customers to gather information on brand experience, design, product usage, etc.
- Know your target audience.
- Train staff about your products, how to deal with customers queries. Foster a customer-centric mindset.
- Be prepared to continuously improve.
- Reward employees who put a smile on the customers' faces.
Frequently Asked Questions
A customer experience strategy comprises the plans you put in place to provide positive experiences across each customer touchpoint and the purposeful ways to measure those experiences.A customer experience strategy comprises the plans you put in place to provide positive experiences across each customer touchpoint and the purposeful ways to measure those experiences.
Forrester's CX Index methodology helps CX leaders grow revenue faster, drive higher brand preference, and charge more for their products. Forrester's CX Index helps brands identify the key drivers of a positive CX for their customers to prioritize efforts.
One of the challenges with customer experience, when done well, is how absolutely all-encompassing it is. So, yes, the marketing your company does is part of the customer experience, but it's not the only part. And, yes, the better your customer experience is in reality, the easier it will be to market your brand.