With competition getting fiercer across industries, businesses must devote more of their resources to improving the customer experience. While it’s essential to offer quality products and services, customer experience or CX is often the secret sauce that separates you from the competition. CX, however, is often undervalued or misunderstood. Let’s look at some of the core components of CX and how you can incorporate them into your business.
What is CX?
Some people assume that customer experience is simply another name for customer support but it’s actually quite a bit more than that. CX actually includes customer support, user experience, reputation management and other areas. Broadly speaking, CX refers to the overall impression and experience that customers have of your brand. It includes areas such as:
- The quality of your products and services. What you sell to your customers is obviously a key aspect of CX.
- Style and presentation. CX isn’t just about what you sell but how you present it. For example, if you’re selling products online the way you package them, and the speed of delivery has a strong effect on customer experience. If you have a physical business such as a store or restaurant, presentation plays a large role.
- Website design and navigation. CX overlaps with UX or user experience. The design of your website and how easy it is for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
- Reputation. This includes word of mouth as well as online ratings and reviews. Both existing customers and prospects who are checking out your business are influenced by what others say about you.
- Customer service. Whether you and your employees interact with customers online, on the phone and/or in person, this has a strong influence on their overall opinion of you.
- Branding. Your branding is a more nuanced but equally important aspect of CX. This includes all of the elements that contribute to your overall image: your logo, the style of your marketing, what type of content you publish, and how you differentiate yourself from the competition.
Some business owners take the position “I’m doing the best I can, but I can’t control what my customers think about me.” This type of fatalistic attitude isn’t accurate and is not good for the health of your business. On the one hand, you don’t have total control over CX because it is, after all, the customer’s experience. People don’t always react the way you expect them to. However, you can carefully monitor how your visitors, leads and customers react to your brand and make the appropriate adjustments. Let’s look at some of the best ways to do this.
Make Sure You Have a CX Strategy
In order to deliver the right type of experience to your customers, you need a strategy.
- Consider your audience. It’s crucial to target your customers’ preferences. This is one of the advantages of constructing a buyer persona or, if appropriate, multiple buyer personae. When you understand your customers, you can better gauge their needs and preferences.
- Identify your vision. Clarifying your goals and values helps you create the right kind of CX strategy. This should inform every aspect of your business.
- Be consistent. Make sure you project a consistent image and policies across platforms and channels. Everyone on your team should be aware and on board with your CX strategy.
Listen to Your Customers
Listening carefully to your customers is one of the most important aspects of CX. It’s not enough for you to subjectively believe you’re doing a great job. What counts is what your customers think.
- Monitor social media to find out what people are saying. You should, of course, track your own social media pages carefully. However, it’s also helpful to widen your search. Track your competitors’ pages as well to find out what they’re doing well and not so well. It’s even helpful to monitor certain trends and hashtags to track the latest trends in your industry.
- Ask for feedback. Some customers leave plenty of feedback whether you request it or not. They may send you emails, comment on your Facebook page or leave reviews for your products. Others, however, are more reserved and don’t say much. These quieter customers are just as important as the more outspoken ones.
- Monitor customer support. You always want to know how your employees are interacting with your customers. It’s a good policy to conduct surveys so you get constant feedback about this. You can arrange to send out emails whenever someone interacts with a customer service rep by phone or online. For physical businesses, you can hand out printed customers surveys that can either be handed in or filled out online.
Get Your Employees on Board
Your employees play a major role in creating the customer experience. This doesn’t just pertain to employees who interact directly with your customers. Anyone who has a hand in creating your products and services contributes to CX. If employees are dissatisfied for any reason, this inevitably has a harmful effect on your business.
Employees can also provide valuable feedback for improvements. They often observe and experience issues of which owners are only vaguely aware. Those on the front lines of your business can see details that contribute or detract from customer satisfaction. You need to encourage them to share their insights with you. Very often, something that’s frustrating to your employees is equally problematic for customers. Always listen to your team. Ask for feedback regularly and take their suggestions and even complaints seriously.
Make CX a Priority
One of the key components of a strong CX strategy is to prioritize this issue. Most businesses understand the value of pleasing customers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a priority for them. Many businesses cut corners to increase profits. Examples of this include using inferior parts or ingredients, offering limited customer support or hiring a low-cost web designer to save money. Making the customer experience a priority may require you to make some short-term sacrifices such as reducing profit per unit or order. However, in the long run it’s the only way to build a successful brand that attracts loyal customers.