Customer experience may not be a new concept, but it has never been more critical for the growth of today’s businesses. According to insights from Salesforce, 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. That’s why industry leaders have shifted their investments towards experience-led strategies, thereby maximizing customer satisfaction and revenue in the long run. For those looking to do the same, we’ve defined five key steps for creating an incredible customer experience.
Step 1: Understand Your Customers
To deliver the highly personalized products, services, and experiences that customers have grown to expect, your organization needs an effective means of understanding its audience. Keep in mind that “understanding” is a process of constant reassessment, especially now that COVID-19 has transformed consumer motivations and behaviors like never before. Such a process will be key for increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately improving your organization’s bottom line.
To start, research your customers. This not only involves assessing their demographic information, but also empathizing with them. Try to walk in your customers’ shoes and anticipate how they make progress towards the goals they’re trying to achieve with your organization. Once you have enough information, compile key customer personas and map their journeys to understand the current state of your customer experience. Doing so will empower your organization to optimize its policies to support effortless journeys and raise the bar for customer satisfaction. That’s where Step 2 comes in.
Step 2: Define Your Unique CX Vision, and Commit to It
One of the most common customer experience mistakes is assigning your customer-facing groups complete accountability for the design and execution of an incredible customer experience, thereby excusing other departments from understanding it. Organizations looking to set themselves apart from the competition must strive to align their customer experience visions with their business visions. This means setting clear, relevant, and meaningful standards for what kind of experiences employees should strive to provide their customers.
Not sure where to start? Here are some inspiring CX vision statements to get you headed in the right direction:
“The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”
…………………………………… – The Ritz-Carlton
“We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.”
…………………………………………. – Warby Parker
Keep in mind that a vision will only improve your organization’s customer experience once all key decision-makers feel empowered to deliver on it. To encourage a cultural shift towards customer-centricity, it may be helpful to set goals for your customer experience initiative and reward employees for taking steps to achieve them. Further, creating new positions that are responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction and dispersing them across departments will inspire positive change at every level of your organization. Those looking to learn more can check out Gartner’s take on four key attributes critical to implementing a customer experience vision.
Step 3: Deploy a Communication Strategy
In today’s digital age, customers know what they want and have countless ways to voice their opinions. That’s why successful organizations tune in to dialogues on social media and review platforms to identify pain points and key drivers of customer satisfaction. Actively listening to your customers has become essential for developing meaningful, feedback-driven experiences, but we can’t forget that communication is a two-way affair. To build enduring customer relationships, your organization must discern how to effectively make itself heard.
Current research shows that the one-size-fits-all approach to customer outreach has lost its appeal. In fact, 74% of customers report feeling frustrated when website content is not personalized. Your organization can replace frustration with delight by defining a communication strategy that (1) elaborates on customer-related data and (2) concentrates messaging across several key channels. Doing so will empower your marketing team to meet customers where they are with compelling content, such as personalized offers and information on new releases. Customers enjoy superior experiences, while your organization enjoys greater conversion rates. It’s a win-win!
Step 4: Optimize Journeys, Not Just Touchpoints
While companies have long focused on improving the customer experience at individual touchpoints, doing so can divert attention from the bigger—and more important— picture: the end-to-end journey. Consistent delivery of the brand promise across all potential points of interaction has become a hallmark of modern-day CX, and today’s customers agree. In fact, 69% of U.S. consumers shop more with brands that offer consistent experiences in store and online.
Organizations looking to keep up with industry leaders must ensure that each channel, as well as handoffs across channels, are optimized for each customer interaction. Take inspiration from Nike, which integrates its applications, storefronts, and products to captivate customers from before the visit to after the purchase. Shoppers at select stores can use the Nike app to scan products and have them delivered to their fitting rooms, for instance. In today’s highly unpredictable climate, providing consistently excellent customer service across touchpoints will build an invaluable sense of trust between your brand and its audience.
Step 5: Incentivize Customer Engagement
Previous research by Forrester indicates that acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining existing ones. With this in mind, it’s essential to create interactive, value-driven opportunities to truly engage with customers who already put their time and money towards your business. If your organization has yet to upgrade its customer retention initiatives, now is the time. The investment will undoubtedly pay for itself.
For starters, consider targeting customers with unique promotions to keep them interested in what you have to offer. This may involve pairing birthday discounts with product recommendations based on purchase history. Also, a tiered loyalty program can be leveraged to incentivize repeat purchases and interaction across digital channels. (Hint: Offering such benefits as free shipping and exclusive discounts to VIP tiers will sweeten the deal!) A referral program, while in the same vein, will cultivate brand advocates who harness the power of word-of-mouth to increase your reach. No matter how you choose to do so, keeping customers engaged will have a transformative impact on your business. That’s because customers simply spend more time and money with the brands they’re loyal to.
Feeling inspired? Read our related blog posts to learn more about crafting an incredible customer experience:
→ ..Winning the “Experience Wars”: Lessons from Today’s CX Leaders
→ ..5 Customer Experience Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
→ ..10 Customer Experience Innovators in the Hospitality Industry