Customer experience (CX), besides being some of the buzziest of buzzwords in marketing as of late, has proven to be key to the success of almost any business, big or small. So what is customer experience exactly? Basically, it’s the sum of how customers perceive all of their interactions with your company. But there’s a lot to unpack in that simple definition.
Customer experience includes everything from how much they enjoy dealing with your employees, to how well your product or service meets their needs, to whether or not they like your logo. In essence, there are two primary touch points that create the overall customer experience: people and products. The way a customer feels about these aspects of your business forms their view of your brand and impacts their happiness and loyalty, and ultimately, your bottom line.
- Why is CX important?
- What is a good Customer Experience?
- Customer Experience vs. Customer service
- How do you Measure CX?
- How do you Improve Customer Experience?
Why is CX important?
The better your CX, the more likely it is that your customers will spread the word about their positive experience with your brand. This is especially important now with the prevalence of online reviews and the huge impact they have on purchasing decisions. The best way to increase your brand awareness is with an experience that’s so remarkable, it makes customers excited to share with others how amazing your business is. Good CX also leads to customer satisfaction, which then translates to loyalty and a solid customer base that keeps coming back again and again.
On the flip side, if you’re providing less-than-stellar CX, you can bet customers will be just as motivated to share their feelings about that as well.
What is a good Customer Experience?
Since the goal of CX is ultimately to keep your customers happy (and your customers are unique), the details of what constitutes a good experience will vary from business to business. There are, however, several things any business can do to improve their overall CX. A survey of 2,000 CX professionals conducted by Hotjar in 2018 found that brands that achieve a good customer experience generally do the following:
- Listen to customers – always
- Gather customer feedback, take it seriously and act on it
- Work to solve each customer’s unique problems and challenges
Basically, take your customers and their opinions seriously. Gather data and do whatever you can to figure out how people are experiencing your brand and take immediate steps to maintain what’s working and improve what isn’t.
Since a good customer experience looks different for every business, you can also learn a lot by looking at what typically makes a bad experience. In their survey, Hotjar found that almost every bad customer experience was caused by one of the following reasons:
- Long wait times
- Employees who don’t understand their customers’ needs
- Unresolved issues or questions
- Too much automation and not enough interaction with actual humans
- Service that isn’t personalized
- Rude or angry employees
Customer Experience vs. Customer Service
People who don’t know any better often think customer experience and customer service are the same thing. Don’t be one of those people. They are, in fact, two separate ideas. So what’s the difference?
Customer service is just part of the overall customer experience. If you go to a fast food restaurant and the person at the counter is smiling, friendly and patient when your kid can’t decide what they want, that’s good customer service. If, at the same restaurant, your table is spotless, your kid is thrilled with the indoor playground and the educational toy that came with their meal, and you receive a coupon to use on your next visit, that’s a good customer experience.
Customer service only includes your interactions with the employees, and while that’s very important, it’s not always the main focus of providing a good customer experience. With the ability to gather data, businesses are now able to get a 360 degree view of their customers so they can personalize their marketing and be proactive and attentive when it comes to customer preferences and needs.
How do you Measure CX?
It’s important to measure customer experience so you know if and how your efforts are resonating with your customers and impacting your bottom line. There are several ways to do this:
- Conduct and analyze customer surveys: There are four main metrics gained for customer surveys that can help to track the success of CX over time. Net Promotor Score (NPS) measures loyalty by asking customers how likely they are to recommend the product/company to a friend or relative. Customer Effort Score (CES) measures experience by asking how easy or difficult it was for a customer to complete an action (“From 1-10, how easy was it for you to get your issue resolved today?”). Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys measure how happy a customer was with specific aspects of their experience, and Time to Resolution (TTR) measures how long it takes for a customer service team to resolve an issue.
- Figure out why some customers aren’t coming back: Customer churn is a natural part of doing business. The bright side is you can learn where you need to improve by examining your churn rates and the reasons why it happens.
- Get customer input: Ask your customers for suggestions on new products or features. Any recurring trends in their answers might be worth looking into.
- Analyze support ticket trends: If there are recurring issues popping up in your support tickets, explore possible reasons for why they’re happening and how you can resolve them.
How do you Improve Customer Experience?
According to SuperOffice, there are 7 ways to improve your overall customer experience:
- Create a customer experience vision and stick to it: Come up with a list of guiding principles that define the customer experience you hope to provide. Make sure all of your employees know these principles by heart and have them in mind while performing all aspects of their job.
- Understand your customers: Create customer personas or profiles to present to your support team so they can connect with, understand and anticipate the needs of each type of person who interacts with your business.
- Connect emotionally with customers: Emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions. Research has found that more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion. When customers connect with your brand on an emotional level, they are more likely to recommend it to friends, re-purchase, stop shopping around, and be less concerned about price.
- Gather feedback in real time: The best way to know how a customer feels about your brand is to ask. And when you do it in real time via live chats and immediate follow-up emails and surveys, emotions and opinions will be fresh and more honest. Also make sure to share customer service feedback with your employees so they can see how they’re making a difference.
- Help your team stay on top of their game with a quality framework: Identify the training needs of each individual employee and follow through with scheduled training and coaching.
- Continuously gather employee feedback: Assessing how your staff feels about your business through a single annual survey won’t give you any idea how their opinions fluctuate and why during the other 11 months of the year. Use project management software or social media tools to continuously gather suggestions and feedback for a more comprehensive view of how things are going.
- Measure your ROI: This is the only way you’ll know whether your investment in your teams is paying off.
Carlie is a copywriter hailing from Chicago, IL. When she’s not writing, you can find her herding her two young children, watching reality TV, drinking wine, or leading family adventures through the city.