Customer Experience (CX) refers to your customers’ holistic perception of their experience with your brand or business. It encompasses the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by both one-off and cumulative interactions with your employees, systems, channels and products; from their first point of contact until they become a loyal, returning customer, or otherwise. It is therefore the result of every interaction a customer has with your business – everything you do impacts your customers’ perception and their decision to keep coming back or not.
CX vs CS
Customer experience is often conflated with customer service, but they differ in that customer service constitutes only one touchpoint in the overall customer experience. For example, if you order food in a restaurant and your server is friendly, attentive and helpful, that’s good customer service. Yet, if your food arrives early, you get a complimentary drink, and the music is good, then that’s a great customer experience. Taking it further, if the restaurant had an easily accessible website with their menus uploaded so you could consider their cuisine and make a reservation beforehand, that’s excellent customer experience!
Why Does CX Matter?
Simply put, the better the customer experience, the more loyal customers will be. Consider the following CX statistics:
Customer experience is set to be the number one brand differentiator in 2020 and beyond
1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience,
Customers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great customer experience,
49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized customer experience.
Customers that rate companies with a high customer experience score (i.e. 10/10) spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to 6 years.
In today’s increasingly saturated and disruptive market, competing brands spring up everyday with comparable quality and pricing. The key differentiator for customers thus becomes consistently excellent customer experience from a brand. As such, bad customer experience is guaranteed to ultimately impact your bottom line. CX can make or break your company’s success.
When a study by Bain & Company asked organizations to rate their quality of customer experience, 80% believed they were delivering a superior experience, while only 8% of customers believed they were receiving a great customer experience. The evidence therefore suggests that not many brands are truly delivering high quality customer experience. You can use this to your advantage, curating a stellar CX that will make your business stand out in your industry.
How Can You Improve Your CX?
Many companies pursue improved CX through a detailed, rigorous, and iterative mechanism, backed by a dedicated customer experience management team with a robust strategy. However, you can start your journey to better CX with five key steps:
1. Identify your ideal customer
Your ideal customers are those who get the most value from your products or services, and who, if offered an amazing experience, will keep coming back again. These people form the backbone of your customer base, whose experience you want to keep optimizing and refining. If you’re not sure who your ideal customer is, take some time to observe your clientele. Take stock of who they are, what they do, how they use your products and/or services, and how frequently. Maintaining a record of transactions and customer profiles using tools such as Excel and Google Sheets or other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software will facilitate this process. Once you’ve taken stock of who your typical customers are, you can create customer personas to typify your ideal customer and map their journey through your business, from the moment they discover it until they become a loyal returnee. These personas will guide you through the rest of your CX-building process.
2. Identify key customer touchpoints
Depending on your business model, specific points of contact with your customer may vary. You need to identify the key moments that the customer connects with your brand and optimize their experience with them to create a lasting impression. There are certain touchpoints that call for special attention, such as:
First time contact (in-person or online)
Initial inquiries (communication via social media, website, email, phone calls, etc)
After purchase follow-up/communication
New customer onboarding
Cancellations or product returns
Complaints and conflict
The impression you leave your customers with at these key touchpoints has a great impact on their decision to keep patronizing your business, and even advertise for you through word of mouth. Red flag elements you should keenly look out for include long wait or response times, unresolved or recurring issues and questions, and rude or angry employees. Spend some time observing and analyzing what these points currently look like to your customer and how you can improve them.
3. Reduce friction
To put it simply, you need to make it as easy for the customer to patronize you as possible. Have you ever stumbled upon an Instagram store with interesting products, only to see that dreaded caption line: “DM for price”? Or perhaps you’ve sent a question to a vendor only to be asked to scroll through their website or online page for the information you’re looking for? Both of these scenarios present an unnecessary hurdle to the customer, who can easily go to the next seller with a more seamless, convenient process. A transaction process with unnecessary friction is unlikely to win any customer loyalty, much less referral. If you run an online store, as much information as possible for an easy purchase should be readily available to the customer, with quick, accessible ways to reach out for help if needed. Be proactive about providing information to your customers, particularly on setback issues such as delays and out of stock items. Examine and smooth out existing points of friction (or potential sources before they appear). Your customers will appreciate the smoothness of their experience with you and are likely to return.
4. Create a customer-centric company culture
The companies with the best CX are those that have customer-centric culture at their core, prioritized and valued from leadership down to the rest of the teams. Make sure that new hires understand your company’s mission, values, and commitment to creating a seamless customer experience. Each employee must understand their role in the customer experience and as such, they need to be educated about it, and empowered to improve it. Consider meeting with your teams to evaluate your current CX based on feedback and your customer personas and brainstorm ways to improve. Allow them to bring out their own ideas so they feel involved in the process. Offer training and support on the solutions you come up with, and give employees direct feedback so they understand how to improve, and can be empowered to find creative solutions to customers’ problems, reducing friction, and optimizing their touchpoint with the customer.
5. Collect customer feedback and insights
You can develop an in-depth understanding of your customers by implementing a system to collect feedback, analyze it, and act on it regularly. Customer feedback is information you collect from your customers about their experience with your product, service, website, or business as a whole. You can use this feedback to improve customer experience by removing or reducing areas of friction and increasing positive touchpoints. Gathering and sharing customer feedback will enhance your empathy as a business: you will design your products and services with customers in mind, produce marketing messages more aligned with customer drives, and offer customer service that understands their pain points and offers useful, creative solutions.
Though it may seem daunting, collecting customer feedback can be quite simple. You’re probably already doing so without realizing it: when a customer sends an email, makes a complaint, or sends their appreciation, you’re receiving feedback. The best way to do this, however, is to lean into a mechanism that streamlines the entire process, from gathering feedback to generating analytics and actionable insights. Echo can help with that.
Creating an exciting, enjoyable, and memorable CX is achievable. It starts from establishing a customer-centric ecosystem in your business using the steps outlined above. We provide you with a system that automates the entire feedback process for you through a simple user interface backed by powerful business intelligence technology. Using Echo in combination with these steps will get you on your way to stellar customer experience in no time!