By now, you have heard about Customer Experience (CX). To remind you, CX is defined by interactions between a customer and an organization throughout their business relationship. These interactions can include awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, purchases, and service, as Steven MacDonald explains it. A good CX is important because a customer who has a positive experience with a business is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer.
However, even though CX is a high priority for many companies, they are failing miserably. In a Bain & Company study, organizations were asked to rate their quality of CX and it turns out 80% believe they are delivering a superior experience. Unfortunately, only 8% of customers believe they are receiving a great CX. Ouch!
In this blog, I will first list some statistics to show you why it is essential to (continue to) focus on CX. Then, I will briefly explain how CX is different from customer service. After that, you will find 7 ways to create a CX strategy and 5 ways to make your customer’s experience unique and personal. To warn you, I will end this blog by listing 3 reasons why CX programs fail. After all, you can learn a lot from bad examples too.
CX statistics: why it is important to focus on CX
Here are some interesting statistics to show you why it is essential to focus on CX or to continue to do so.
- Bloomberg Businessweek has found that “delivering a great CX” has become a top strategic objective.
- Customer Management IQ has found that 75% of customer management executives and leaders rated CX to be highly important.
- Oracle has found that 74% of senior executives believe that CX impacts the willingness of a customer to be a loyal advocate.
- Indeed, Harvard Business Review has discovered that companies who implement a CX strategy successfully achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn, and increased revenues.
- More surprisingly, American Express has discovered that 60% of customers are actually willing to pay more for an excellent experience.
- Still, Temkin Group has found a severe decline in CX. The biggest cause for concern is that the percentage of good and excellent companies dropped from 37% in 2015 to only 18% in 2016 – the lowest rating since 2011.
These statistics mean that executives find CX to be very important and that customers are expecting a great CX, but that those executives have troubles finding the right way to deliver that great CX to those eager customers. How to bridge that gap? This blog will lead you to the beginnings.
How is CX different from customer service?
CX is often confused with customer service. Customer service is a substantial part of CX but it is not the only part.
As MacDonald explains, a customer’s first point of contact with a company is usually through interacting with an employee, such as in a store or on the phone. This gives your business an opportunity to deliver excellent customer service.
Here is an example that shows that customer service is only one aspect of CX. Think of booking a vacation. The person who helps you is friendly and helpful, which is good customer service. If your tickets arrive early and the hotel upgrades your room, that counts as a good CX.
CX is more than person-to-person service and thanks to technology, companies can connect with their customers in new and exciting ways, such as predicting future needs even before the customers know they need it. It will let you be proactive and attentive.
7 ways to create a CX strategy
MacDonald has listed 7 ways to create a great CX strategy. As mentioned in the statistics, this will help you improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and increase revenues.
1. Create a clear CX vision
The first step in your CX strategy is to have a clear customer-focused vision that you can communicate with your organization. The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles.
Once these principles are in place, they will drive the behavior of your organization. Every member of your team should know these principles by heart and they should be embedded into all areas of training and development.
2. Understand who your customers are
The next step in building upon these CX principles is to bring to life the different type of customers who deal with your customer support teams. If your organization truly aims to understand customer needs and wants, they need to be able to connect and empathize with the situations that your customers face.
One way to do this is to create customer personas. This will allow your customer support team to recognize who the customers are and understand them better. It is also a vital step in becoming truly customer centric.
3. Create an emotional connection with your customers
The best customer experiences are achieved when a member of your team creates an emotional connection with a customer. Customers become loyal because they are emotionally attached and they remember how they feel when they use a product or service. According to Gallup, a business that optimizes for an emotional connection outperforms competitors by 85% in sales growth.
Harvard Business Review claims that emotionally engaged customers are:
- at least three times more likely to recommend your product or service
- three times more likely to re-purchase
- less likely to shop around
- much less price sensitive
You can see why establishing an emotional connection is imperative.
4. Capture customer feedback in real time
You need to ask whether you are delivering a great CX. Capture feedback in real time, such as post-interaction surveys; they can be delivered using a variety of automated tools. Outbound calls are another option.
It is of great essence to tie customer feedback to a specific customer support agent; this shows every team member the difference they are making to the business.
5. Use a quality framework for development of your team
You now know what customers think about the quality of your service compared to the CX principles you have defined. Now you need to identify the training needs for each individual member of your customer support team.
6. Act upon regular employee feedback
Most organizations have an annual survey process where they capture the overall feedback of your team. However, continuous employee feedback is better. Allow employees to share ideas on how to improve the CX.
7. Measure the ROI from delivering great CX
Measuring CX is one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations, which is why many companies use the “Net Promoter Score,” which collects valuable information by asking whether the customer would recommend the company to a friend or relative.
5 ways to make your customer’s experience unique and personal
You now know how to create a CX strategy. It is time to find out how you can use that CX strategy in practice and how you can make a customer’s experience unique and personal. Maricel Rivera and Pardot.com have some ideas about that.
1. Cover every possible channel of engagement
Your website is just one gateway to engagement, and in this day and age, you need more than that to create unique customer experiences. Think of a live chat support system, social media, email, and a phone system.
As consumers collaborate on various platforms to share their brand experiences, organizations that fail to adopt a multichannel approach to customer engagement are missing out on the conversations around their brand.
An example is a customer complaint on Twitter: if it is quickly addressed by your social media manager, it can deter the possible negative ripple effect, especially if the complaint originates from a social media influencer.
The omnichannel model also provides the customer with a singular CX across all channels of engagement. If a customer saved an item in her shopping cart via her mobile phone, she expects to complete the purchase seamlessly using her laptop.
2. Be mindful of customers with multiple devices
Almost everyone has access to the internet, but not everybody uses the same device. As shown in the previous point, not everybody visits your website using a PC or laptop. Keep this in mind when you design your site. What looks good on a desktop may be distorted on a mobile phone screen.
3. Use predictive analytics
Using the right systems, you can gather much data about your customers. With this data, you can solve challenges and identify business opportunities.
Predictive analysis is the practice of using current and historical data to predict future trends and events, including the spending preferences of customers. It can be used to offer vital information to the customer even before an actual query and it can be leveraged to push products or services with higher chances of getting sold.
That may sound like a sneaky upsell tactic on the surface. But when you think about it in terms of anticipating a need they have not yet thought about, you are actually employing excellent customer service.
4. Provide out of the box value
Find unique ways to think outside of the box and provide unexpected value to your clients and prospects. Be an expert in your space by offering tools, insight, and tips that are complementary to your product or service.
5. Become the go-to person
You have proven that your product provides value to your client and you have shown them that you are willing to go above and beyond to help their business succeed by offering insight into other tools they might find useful.
This means that you are building a relationship with your client that goes beyond selling them a product or service they need; you are proving to them that you are a champion of their business as much as you are a champion of selling them yours.
3 reasons why CX programs fail
As said, bad examples can offer learning moments as well. Ryan Smith and Luke Williams have found 3 reasons why CX programs fail and I would like to share them with you as a warning.
1. Forgoing change and innovation
Ask your CX program leader about the purpose of the program. If the answer is something other than making intelligent changes that benefit the customer and the business, you may have a serious issue. After all, CX programs must be about change.
Basic programs track performance over time. That is imperative because you want to improve over time. This is a frequently overlooked premise to having a CX program: it is about change.
Effective CX programs prioritize the importance of what gets measured and stack those data against your desired outcomes. This is called driver analyses. Good driver analyses unlock the method for having the most change in the fewest possible moves.
Be warned, though. While executing driver analyses enables change, it is not actual change. It is just more data until you do something with it. The three reasons change does not often happen are reporting paralysis (teams are so wrapped up in distributing data, ensuring data quality, or writing up insights that they forget the purpose of data), the lack of “think time” (build in time to understand the implications and applications of the data), and failure to collaborate (CX experts must work with other departments and stakeholders to push the agenda for customer-focused improvement).
2. Linking metrics to business outcomes
Most CX programs use their own tracking measures as emblems of success or failure. If a score improves, that number is heralded and CX teams use it as evidence of innovation and improvement by the team. Often, these results are accepted at face value.
However, you really cannot control for all other things that could cause scores to rise, and you cannot assume that a rise in scores is good for net revenue. When it is time to set KPIs for the program, be sure to match them up against input from both your CMO and CFO. After all, a satisfied customer is not necessarily a profitable one.
3. Moving slowly, without purpose
A CX program is a living, breathing thing. It is either in a state of growth, peak productivity, or decline. If you are not confidently moving through the problem, you may be wasting valuable energy trying to figure out where you are going.
While it is critical for CX programs to be well designed and methodologically sound, wasteful activities are sometimes allowed to creep into the design process and bog down the program. Lack of momentum and sluggishness spell doom to a CX program and leadership must propel the program.