Customer experience (CX) – the relationship between a customer and a company throughout their lifecycle – has been proven to be one of the largest differentiators and have the largest impact on a company’s long-term growth and bottom line.
Companies that invest in providing their customers with the right experience can see:
Websites, apps, social media – customers are exploring newer ways to interact with companies, and their expectation of those interactions continue to rise. No longer is price the main reason for customers to drop a brand; the quality of their experience and the perception of the company’s brand is key to their decision. Superior service or experience is what can influence your customer’s decision to either opt for or drop your brand.
If you can ultimately provide an outstanding customer experience, you will achieve the business goals every company hopes to attain – engagement, loyalty, and an advocate for your brand.
When defining your customer experience, it is important to work through the following:
Value proposition: When starting to develop an optimal customer experience, it is important to understand your company’s value. What does your company offer? What is the core value statement for your customers? This will ultimately underscore the type of experience you want to provide them.
Understand your customers: Any effective plan should start from an in-depth knowledge of your customer-base and what you understand about your customers’ needs, wants, and motivators.
Advanced marketing technology, including a CRM, Marketing Automation, and closed-loop reporting system that integrate and consolidate data, will help better define and segment your customers. You can also utilize demographics, surveys, and individual behavior or purchase information on your products and services to understand your base.
Understand your own sales cycle: What is your sales funnel? How do new opportunities pass through the funnel? What is your average sales cycle? All of the answers to these questions will become key as you define your customer’s experience against your own internal processes. There may be room for improvement in the sales cycle for meeting customer expectations or it may provide insights on how you can craft your customer’s specific journeys.
Expand your reach: With the digital expansion, your company should provide your customers cross-channel experiences, which also include social communities. Because customers today are active on these channels, it is imperative that you service your customers, right where they are. This includes physical and digital channels such as your website, customer portals, mobile, search engines, community sites, chat and email.
Listen to your customers: Customer feedback is valuable – don’t miss an opportunity to collect, consolidate, analyze and act on the feedback. In fact, offer simple avenues for your customers to offer you suggestions – never assume you know the consumer. You may have assumptions that can guide you in a certain direction, but it pays to gather facts about consumers – about their experiences – by talking to frontline staﬀ, sales, and business development staﬀ.
However, this approach often leaves out important elements needed to deﬁne consumer personas for your customer experience.
To gain a clear understanding as to what questions, concerns, hopes, dreams, values and behaviors (not identified by data) consumers have, communicate with them. Surveys and social media are good tools that provide real-time feedback on how customers feel about your company. These can allow you to differentiate between the experience you want to give them and the one they actually receive. This will help you identify the improvement areas and the differentiators.
An effective social listening strategy can expose weaknesses. However, it can also provide several benefits and direction for the future including who to target – based on receptivity, relevance, and the compelling features. You can quickly test broader messaging and offers, and receive feedback in real time.
Establish key metrics:How do you know if you are providing the experience you want? It is important for marketers to continually gather information on the current customer experience and look for ways to improve it. It is important to define and track those metrics, which will show you if you are meeting the customer experience that you define as your success. This can include new customers, renewals/turn overs, referrals, C-SAT, conversions, or attachment rates. Fundamentally, all of these metrics reinforce the desired customer experience and should align the entire organization around your company's customer experience goals.
Maintain a solution oriented, ever-green strategy: Customer experience should be dynamic and should allow you to change direction, based on the results you receive from your efforts. As you build the best strategy, allow for changes in direction and a continuous feedback loop. Your customers will dictate your direction and put you in the right path of creating excellent customer experiences.
All of the above points can help you build or re-define your optimal customer experience. As you define them, examine your customer interactions, which can help you look for ways to improve the quality and efficiency of the contact experience while lowering costs. All of the information uncovered during the analysis stage will be critical while creating personalized, specific, customer-centric experiences, and will be used when you define your particular customer personas and customer journeys.