8 Tips for a Better Customer Experience Strategy

Don’t leave your CX up to chance. Ensure you’re delivering excellent experiences by crafting a goal-oriented customer experience strategy.

Customer experience is critical to business success. According to Gartner’s report, Creating a High-Impact Customer Experience Strategy, “CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined. Delivering an easy and convenient interaction experience creates a good impression, but not one that lasts.”

Brands expect their teams to deliver first-rate customer experience and outperform competitors, according to the report.

“Moreover,” it added, “63% of business leaders believe that to build customer loyalty, their CX teams must be primarily focused on creating new and innovative experiences for their customers.”

Why Customer Experience Matters

Your CX strategy has an immediate impact on customer retention and customer satisfaction metrics. A great experience increases customer satisfaction organically and leads to repeat business. Over time, that satisfaction turns into loyalty, which, in turn, leads to word-of-mouth promotion and increased brand awareness.

Great customer experiences also reduce churn. Satisfied customers don’t complain, they don’t leave and they contribute to financial gains. Research from Bain & Company showed that increasing customer retention by 5% can boost profits by 25% to 95%.

As we follow the customer experience pipeline, it’s easy to see how increased customer retention leads to a boost in customer lifetime value, which results in increased sales and greater profitability.

As a bonus, employees are more likely to be engaged and aligned with your organization’s goals when you deliver a great customer experience. The satisfaction of the customers they deal with provides a boost to their own morale.

A thoughtful, dynamic strategy is critical to the success of any organization’s CX effort.

Elements of a Great Customer Experience Strategy

Your customer experience strategy combines your company’s customer service priorities and practices with your overall business goals. It provides a framework to manage, measure, understand and analyze customer service.

Forrester has analyzed the elements that go into a strong customer experience strategy. These elements include:

  • A vision shared across departments
  • A deep understanding of the company’s customers
  • A gap analysis that incorporates areas and plans for improvement
  • A road map to get you from where you are to where you want to be
  • Accountability procedures that keep all team members in alignment
  • Defined key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring and analyzing success

With a well-defined CX strategy, your organization is well-positioned to meet customers’ needs and deal with pain points. Your teams have the resources needed to align customer service with your business goals and, as a result, you’re able to exceed customer expectations.

Let’s look at eight tips for building a successful CX strategy.

Related Article: The Most Important Components of the Customer Experience

1. Promote Customer Retention

“A clear articulation of the heart of the company’s approach to customer experience is the critical initial component of a business’ CX strategy,” said Ali Cudby, founder and CEO at Alignmint Growth Strategies.

Customer retention centers around how people feel about their experiences with a brand, according to Cudby, adding that this area is essential.

“Companies that prioritize growth must implement churn reduction strategies, so they keep the customers they’ve worked so hard to win,” she said. “Churn is the ultimate leaky bucket. No matter how many new customers go into a bucket, if there are holes that lead to churn, it will be hard for any company to fill the bucket and hit key revenue targets.”

Churn can happen at several levels. A customer who bought from you once and doesn’t repurchase isn’t a concern. That’s different than a customer who has been loyal for years and suddenly leaves. It’s important for you to identify the specifics of the churn you’re experiencing as part of your customer experience strategy.

You could solve high churn rates among new customers (something that’s common) by upgrading the speed of your customer support. You may also want to ensure you’re marketing to the right audience.

If repeat customers are churning, you should focus your CX strategy on customer interactions. Look for upselling and cross-selling openings. You might also think about loyalty programs and incentives to keep valuable customers in the fold.

2. Look at the Customer’s Perspective

“The customer experience is defined by the customer — not some executive or institutional belief in what it is,” noted Howard Pyle, founder of ExperienceFutures.org.

“I’ve heard so many leaders say they know their customers, but really they just know their business,” he added. “Once you objectively look at each customer through a lens of data and research, CX metrics become points of alignment — a common objective that short circuits internal politics.”

One way brands can better understand their customers is to map out their journeys. Start by asking yourself questions, such as:

  • How do customers become aware of your company?
  • What channels do customers use to reach you?
  • What research do prospective customers perform when deciding between your company and competitors?
  • What objections do prospects have to your competitors?
  • What makes customers decide to commit to a purchase?
  • What touchpoints turn your customers into repeat customers?
  • What pain points might customers encounter with your company and how do you address them?

You’ll need to touch base with multiple departments to gather this data, but it pays off in big ways. You’ll also need to consider:

  • All touchpoints through which customers contact you
  • Your customers’ needs
  • Any barriers or obstacles to customer service
  • Your customers’ attitudes toward your brand
  • Customers’ motivations for choosing your brand
  • Customers’ perspectives on each action they might take
  • Customers’ emotions surrounding your products and services
  • Customers’ pain points
  • The problems customers need to solve by using your products

A related tool is the empathy map, which contrasts customers’ internal attitudes and mindsets. Here, you’ll focus on what your customers think and feel about their pains and aspirations, mapping to actual customer interactions. By understanding how your customers feel, your customer-facing employees can empathize with and serve them better.

3. Align Your Internal Teams

Those involved in developing and maintaining CX invariably come from across an organization. They’re not unique to the customer experience or even the wider marketing team.

“Teams that align themselves with the customer journey are by definition cross-functional,” said Pyle. Think about most CX in a digital era — there are apps, social media platforms, websites and more, all built with common data and designs. The customer experience isn’t one of those teams — it’s all of them together.

While your marketing department may take the lead in customer experience, other teams should also be involved. Your sales team will certainly want to weigh in. In addition, your IT team is vital to developing and implementing the technology to provide optimum experiences.

“Clients can improve the customer experience by working with their CX provider to journey map the experience from beginning to end, ” said Julie Casteel, chief sales and marketing officer at ibex.

“Consider what is the path the customer has to go down to get their issues resolved,” she continued. “What tools and technologies does the customer service agent have to solve that issue? Often they’re mismatched. To fix those breakage points and begin to deliver an optimal experience in which the customer feels truly valued, those need to be mapped together.”

4. Be Consistent and Reliable

“A company’s CX strategy should include consistency and reliability in customer service,” said Vivek Astvansh, assistant professor of marketing at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

“Reliability refers to customers having the same experience, regardless of the day and the time, whether they’re in a physical store or the web store, whether they’re in pre-purchase or post-purchase stage, whether they are interacting with a live agent or a bot, etc.,” Astvansh noted.

“Customer experience is mostly driven by employees, who are bound to have idiosyncrasies,” he added. “That means CX is inherently far less reliable than what companies and customers want it to be. What makes reliability critical is companies’ gradual adoption of robots and AI apps for serving customers.”

Unlike a live agent, a chatbot doesn’t experience emotional labor while responding to an angry customer. Instead, the bot can learn from the caller’s past conversations. As it learns, it can speak in a way most likely to offer a superior experience to the caller.

“A single tone of voice can be used throughout the entire customer interaction with advanced solutions,” added Jennifer Kline Shernoff, former ADA senior vice president of product and design.

“If the conversation needs to be transferred to a live agent, the hand-off is seamless and efficient,” she continued. “Whether it’s a human agent or advanced AI responding, customers and prospects will feel that they’re getting 100% of the brand’s attention throughout the interaction.”

Related Article: My Top 3 Lessons Learned as a CX Leader

5. Offer Employees the Right Resources

Closely related to consistency and reliability is availability, according to Astvansh. Customers want their issues handled quickly, efficiently and correctly, or they’ll seek a competitor.

“Availability refers to how much effort a customer must make to receive information from the company,” Astvansh said. “The company must be available at ‘all times’ to serve customers. The fluidity of workdays/hours in contemporary times makes availability in time critical.”

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