How to handle customer experience within your organization
A customer experience refers to the sum of all the interactions a person has with a brand, regardless of the touchpoint. It is the complete experience a customer has with an organization both online and offline. We believe that CX is created by the user’s cognitive impressions, feelings and expectations linked to specific tasks, contexts and purposes. It is entirely based on their point of view and their perception of the brand in question.
CX starts with a customer’s initial contact with a brand and continues during the product purchasing process, the customer care given after purchase, right up until the product is discarded.
Below you will find a list of best practices to help you achieve this.
1. Get c-level buy-in
CX experts often talk about the importance of “wowing” the customer through an awesome experience. But when talking to your Board about customer experience management you should tell them they should think about the fact that they have human beings they care about, in this case its customers. The questions they need to ask are the following. “How do we better understand their needs?”, “How can we constantly learn about what they are liking and not liking and what they are thinking and feeling?” and “How do we propagate this information to the right people across our organization?”. What the Board needs to know is that if your company is not listening and adapting to customers then your business is going to fall behind.
2. Hire a head of CX
It is important to take on someone with a clearly appointed role for this area, someone with a process-driven approach and able to engage the entire company. Allocate them a team and the right conditions in the form of a budget and KPIs which will enable them to make a difference and teach your organization to move ahead. And finally ensure they work in an agile fashion, close to your customers and in a way that allows them to test, measure and evaluate their efforts on a continuous basis.
3. Create a CX mindset
When creating a customer-centric culture, you must not think of customer experience as the responsibility of a separate department but as something that is connected to everything you do. For example, rather than describing yourself as company that sells shoes and delivers a great customer experience, think of your business as a customer service organization that happens to deliver shoes.
In addition, every employee needs to constantly ask themselves how they are helping or hurting the customer experience they are delivering. Organizations that ask everyone to get involved in improving experience manage to do CX well. All measures taken are collective measures. Everyone owns them. Therefore, CX should be discussed in for example meetings dedicated to sales and profits as it is just as fundamental to your business as any of the other topics that are generally discussed in meetings.
4. Look at the main components of CX
The first step involves getting to know your audience by looking at their customer journeys and mapping out all the touchpoints they have with your brand. If you want your investment in customer experience to have a positive return, then you should not try to improve every single interaction point with your customers. Instead, just pick an area or a customer journey that you want to improve and start working on it.
Creating a great CX is not only about meeting customer needs, you also need to exceed the customer’s expectations by presenting them with innovative solutions or ideas that they would never think of themselves – things that they may not even be aware of.
In order to create these types of “unknown” experiences you need to be prepared to dare to do the unexpected. Having said that, we believe you should never ignore the basics such as technical functionality, UX design, website speed and more.
It’s also important to note that sometimes you only need to innovate on a basic functionality. Let’s imagine you wish to boost your website speed. In this case you should develop your website to be lightning fast. Maybe that is all it takes to exceed customer expectations.
From a more general perspective, we believe consistency is key to CX. By this we mean that the entire experience must be consistent. For example, having a great product with poor (online) customer service will not do. Or building an excellent e-commerce website and sending the customer a product that is damaged on arrival is unsatisfactory. This has a direct impact on customer retention and means that the user will most likely never visit your brand again.
5. Measure CX
It is a good idea to start with your current customers when it comes to measuring CX. This is usually done using a Net Promotor Score (your customers’ willingness to recommend you to other customers) and various types of customer surveys.
Another way of measuring CX is by looking at loyal customers via a Customer Satisfaction Index, Customer Lifetime Value, or Customer Attitude survey.
A great way to learn more about your customers and find new ideas on how to improve CX is by taking a closer look at your customer service function. Here you will be able to talk to employees who are interacting with your customers daily and are able to intercept customer needs and concerns in an efficient way.
This will help you to really understand why things go wrong. When an unhappy customer reaches out and complains, you can learn so much from this and start making improvements based on this. Furthermore, by analyzing customer service tickets you can find a lot of informative clues to why loyal customers have left your brand.
It is also important to look at your own business from an objective point of view and try out your own services yourself. This can be done by employing the “virginize” method, a process that allows you to replicate how an end-user would experience interaction with your brand. This enables you to simulate an environment in which you play the role of your own customer, helping you identify areas that need to be improved.
When looking at potential customers’ expectations you need to ask other types of questions such as: “What are you looking for?” or “What do you long for?” in order to conduct a correct needs analysis.
Your drop off rate, the number of visitors who leave a navigation path (funnel) without completing it, should also be examined when it comes to potential customers. You can do this by using Google Analytics to look at goal funnels – a series of web pages that lead up to a specific goal – to establish where you are losing the customer and why.
This allows you to improve the stages in the customer journey where drop off rates are high. Do not only focus on data from Google Analytics such as conversion rates and views when you are working on this. Try to find other complementary tools to use as well such as Hotjar and don’t forget to use A/B-testing to try out new ideas and optimize conversion rates on your website.
6. Remember all touchpoints
It is impossible to say that one touchpoint is more important than another today. However, the concept of “mobile first” is easily forgotten as the focus tends to be on a desktop approach.
Customer journeys are not a straight line, they are more like a mosaic pattern. This means you need to design a holistic experience based on the many ways a customer interacts with your brand. The sum of all interactions is the actual journey. And it goes without saying that all these touchpoints are equally important Before-During- and After the purchase has been made.
If you wish to single out one extremely important touchpoint, we believe it is the call to action. As one of the managers from IKEA once put it in a workshop, “The customer journey can be abstract and confusing, but if it doesn’t eventually lead to a purchase of some kind, I am not interested in staying in this room”. Therefore, it is key to have a sales-driven purpose.
7. Measure B2B CX in the same way as you measure B2C CX
A lot more attention is paid to B2C CX than B2B customer experience. This weakness is however an opportunity as there is a lot to be gained from putting the spotlight on CX for B2B customers. Sales for B2B organizations are steadily increasing and those that fail to offer the right online CX may lose their customers. Remember, the customer journeys may differ, but you should measure them in the same way.