How to create an exceptional customer experience strategy?
Today, customers lay a greater emphasis on their experience when making a purchase which means that they highly value their overall customer experience. According to a survey by Gartner, over two-thirds of businesses consider customer service a vital factor when competing in their industry.
Unfortunately, many of today's customers are not satisfied with the service they receive, meaning there's a large gap between customer expectations and reality. They often end up waiting on hold or getting stuck in a web of information. Given this, understanding how to efficiently handle incoming calls for your business becomes crucial.
Most of us can agree that a bad customer experience is something that derails customer loyalty. However, what about an exceptional one? Is it possible for businesses to make an exceptional customer experience their USP?
In this post, we'll talk about the definition of a customer experience strategy, exceptional customer service, and how it can help your business stand out from the crowd. We'll also show you how to implement a strategy that will help you differentiate yourself from your competitors.
What Is a Customer Experience Strategy?
If you haven't considered implementing a customer experience strategy, you're missing out on key points throughout the customer's journey which could ultimately impact your business goals. Customer experience, also referred to as CX or a CX strategy, is the experiences and interactions that your customers have with your business. From the moment they first engage with your brand to the moment they decide to be loyal customers for life, the customer journey all ties back to the overall experience strategy you implement. This strategy is the sum of every interaction that a customer has with your company and it should take into account the following factors:
- The mission and vision of your company
- Marketplace data and insights
- Consumer research
- Competitive insights and differentiators
Your customer support team as well as the rest of your company should be aware of your customer experience strategy so they are able to deliver an on-brand experience at every customer touchpoint. Including every department instead of only customer-facing roles makes it significantly easier to align your entire organization with your customer journey map, helping to boost your overall customer satisfaction score.
A successful customer experience strategy can make or break whether or not a lead becomes a long-term customer for your business. Make sure to track the data around your customer feedback and your customer experience CX strategy so you can leverage it to your advantage and make adjustments as needed.
How Important Is the Customer Experience and Customer Experience Management?
Businesses cannot exist without having customers. If you don't deliver great customer experience touchpoints, you're setting yourself up for failure. The importance of having an emphasis on customer experience at your company is essential for countless reasons. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer; the happier you are with a brand and your interactions with them, the more you will be willing to continue to purchase from them in the future. Customers interact with companies more when they see personalized service and strong customer communication over brands that offer cookie-cutter answers and interactions. While not all customer journeys are the same, it's important that your customer success team is aware of how to improve each customer's experience whenever possible.
The Influence of a Bad Customer Experience on a Business
Without an effective customer experience strategy, you're missing out on a significant chunk of business. This is particularly true for businesses that rely on word-of-mouth advertising and repeat customers to drive their profitability. If you don't make it a point to offer superior customer service, you could experience the following downsides:
- The loss of existing customers: Even the most patient and forgiving customers will lose their desire to do business with you when they can find a similar product or service elsewhere that offers a superior customer experience.
- The loss of potential customers: Without a clear customer experience vision, potential customers will be turned away from your company before they even step foot in the door. From being talked down to by customer service representatives to dealing with long wait times, any negative or unpleasant experience can send potential customers running.
- Tarnishing your reputation: It's difficult to improve customer loyalty when your reputation precedes you. Not only can a negative reputation turn customers away but it can make other businesses unwilling to partner with you on initiatives.
- Profit loss: The fewer customers you have, the less money that's coming in the door. Without a large customer base or when you have high customer churn, it's impossible to drive the level of profits needed to reach your long-term business goals.
- Loss of employees: Most companies make it a point to establish a positive working environment, a factor that is extremely important in keeping morale high. When your target audience isn't being catered to in the most ideal way, it can trickle down into the overall employee experience at your company.
The Influence of a Good Customer Experience on a Business
Conversely, good customer experience can be a key brand differentiator for your company. We've outlined only some of the positive aspects of understanding the importance of the customer experience landscape:
- Engage customers and keep them loyal: Your service team should be aware of how to interact with your customers in a way that addresses their customer needs and helps drive them to come back to your company time and time again.
- Drive profitability: Through word-of-mouth advertising and the ability to see things from the customer's perspective, you'll be able to expand your network of customers and increase your sales.
- Elevate your brand reputation: When a customer has a positive experience with your brand, no matter how big or how small, it can help to improve your overall brand reputation.
- Measuring customer experience to drive growth: When you're able to deliver great customer experiences, you'll be able to collect data and better understand what it takes to create a customer experience that addresses pain points and keeps your customers happy.
- Turn leads into customers: Those who might be first interacting with your brand are often shopping around for similar goods and services. When they have a positive experience from the start, you're able to make a lasting impression that can ultimately get your customers to convert.
How to Create a Customer Experience Strategy
When it comes to the digital transformation of your customer experience strategy, you'll want to try to find solutions that cover the end-to-end experience, meaning multiple channels are covered. Whether you're looking to refine your existing strategy or you are striving to establish one in the first place, here are some steps on how you can make your customers feel important to improve business outcomes:
- Step 1: Review your company's current approach to customer support, including your customer experience metrics. This allows you to reflect on what is working particularly well for your company while helping you identify areas that you can improve. You might not be sure where to start; consider whether or not you have a help desk or a call center that works with your company that can help you identify key performance indicators such as your customer satisfaction score, net promoter score, churn rate, etc. If you realize that you aren't delivering at the level that your customers expect, this is a red flag that you'll want to refine your strategy.
- Step 2: Conduct a competitive analysis to see what your largest threats are doing when it comes to pain points and how your customer experience CX strategy is different. You'll be able to draw inspiration from their strengths and weaknesses to help you map out ways that you can improve your existing approach to customer experience.
- Step 3: Create buyer personas and a customer journey map. Meeting your business objectives doesn't happen overnight. Have you taken the time to identify the various customer personas that may come into contact with your brand? A customer persona, also known as a buyer persona, is a fictional or semi-fictional representation of characters that are used to describe a particular type of customer that might come into contact with your business. Details of this persona include their age, location, job title, goals, challenges, etc.
- Step 4: Train your staff on how to interact with your customers: Now that you know how customers experience your brand across touchpoints, you'll be able to share this information with your team and establish a new protocol for future interactions. Even if the information isn't new, sharing it with your team makes it easier for them to continue doing what they've been doing. Or they may need to make changes in a particular area such as post-purchase interactions. Beyond only sharing this information with your CS team, you should also share it throughout the company to create a unified front and to establish a standard that might not have existed otherwise.
- Step 5: Determine your customers' expectations: Many expectations such as staying positive or being reliable should be ingrained in your approach. These are things that are the hallmark of great customer experience at every interaction. However, not all customers are the same and each requires a slightly different approach based on the specific interaction. Make sure that your team is nimble and able to make adjustments on the fly while still falling within your set parameters.
- Step 6: Collect feedback and track performance. From focus groups to follow-up surveys that gauge how the customer felt throughout the interaction, feedback is essential when it comes to interactions with your target audience. Your customer base can be one of your biggest assets in making refinements to your experience strategy. Don't forget to track the performance through established metrics that will help refine your customer experience and help you to make improvements as needed.
How to Improve Your Customer Experience Strategy
Here are some tips on how you can improve your customer experience strategy:
- Prioritize the customer’s pain points: Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer and consider what is frustrating to them or what pain points might turn them away from your brand. Make sure to analyze data and collect feedback as often as possible.
- Put employees through your CX so they understand it: To see firsthand how your services and products are explained, send employees through your customer experience journey. Be open to hearing feedback and making changes from there.
- Encourage every level of the organization to speak with customers: Having a positive experience starts with connection. All levels of your organization, not just customer success, should work to build relationships with customers.
- Set clear goals and establish tracking systems: Make sure the goals of what you’re trying to achieve are clearly outlined and always put tracking systems in place so you have hard data to reference when making improvements.
- Start at the end and work backward: Consider what you want the customer to do after they’ve had a positive experience with your brand. This can help you determine the CX that they deserve and helps ensure that you focus on action at the end of the journey.
Customer Experience Strategy Best Practices
To help you create a great customer service experience, we'll talk about some of the most common principles businesses follow to create effective customer service. These best practices can help lead the way for your company.
1. Begin and End with “Thank You”
One of the most effective ways to improve a customer service experience is by beginning and ending each interaction with a thank you.
The goal of every interaction is to show the customer how much you appreciate them for choosing your business over the other options.
Even if a transaction doesn’t result in a purchase, saying thank you after the business has closed is a great way to show the customer how much you appreciate them. It can also help build a positive relationship between the two parties.
2. Use Digital Resources
The rise of the smartphone has made people more connected than ever before. This trend has created an opportunity for businesses to improve their customer service by leveraging their customers’ connectivity.
One of the most critical factors businesses need to consider when creating a great customer service experience is allowing their customers to manage their account services and features. This can help them resolve their issues easily.
Online shopping is an absolute lifesaver for customers who have limited time to commit to a particular business. Also, avoid over-directing potential customers to your app, which can lead to a negative experience and alienate them completely.
3. Employ Effective Social Media Strategies
Social media is a great way for businesses to build strong personal connections with their customers. It allows individuals to comment, share, and demonstrate their interest in your products and services simultaneously.
If you’re not already using social media to build strong personal connections with your customers, start immediately. It can help boost the customer service experience and make them feel like part of the team.
4. Reach Your Target Audience
Are you meeting your customers where they are in terms of how they like to interact with a brand across touchpoints? A key part of the customer experience is to make sure that your experience strategy aligns with engaging with your customers in the places where they're the most interested or where they need the most help and assistance. Your customer journey map must outline the most critical touchpoints of your customers so you can adapt to their needs and better serve them. From social media to live chat to email, it's important that your various customer journeys are accounted for and that your team understands how to communicate successfully in each channel.
By understanding your consumer behavior and offering omnichannel service, you can gain a leg up on your competitors as well. Your business needs to be able to understand the channels in which your customers prefer to communicate and provide consistent help throughout.
5. Be Consistent in Your Experience Strategy
Building trust with your customer base starts with consistency and transparency when it comes to your actions, policies, and processes from your entire team, not just customer-facing teams.
One way to ensure this is by ensuring that your company-wide policies are updated and feasible to carry out regardless of the specific scenario or buyer persona of your audience. The last thing you want is to develop additional friction with your customers such as through a difficult exchange or return process. Chances are low that they will continue to support you in the future.
Customer Experience Strategy Examples
Now that we have a better understanding of what it takes to implement a customer experience strategy, let's explore some real-world examples that illustrate how your support team can create a customer experience that will keep your audience coming back to your brand in the future.
1. How Sephora Helped Set Beauty Industry Standards
One prime example is Sephora and how they shifted their brand to focus on the future of their customers. As soon as smartphones started gaining popularity, this beauty store noticed that their customers were searching for recommendations, reviews, and competitor prices while they were browsing the aisles in the store. This prompted them to launch the Sephora Beauty Insider program that started in 2007.
This program was designed to give member-exclusive perks and deals to its "insiders" and was founded on the premise of making meaningful connections with the brands Sephora carries. In 2012, the brand launched a Beauty Insider card via the Apple Passbook when they determined over 70% of their online traffic came from an iOS device. They also created a mobile app to assist customers during cross-channel interactions. Today, Sephora's beauty insider program has 17+ million members in North America alone, making up 80% of the sales for the company. They made a concerted analytical effort to track data across interactions that gives them insight into the customer journey.
2. How Comcast Improved the Telecom Customer Experience
Another example is Comcast and how they created a Customer Experience Personalization (CXP) team that built a platform to manage data around customers and systems. They mapped out 30 million customer relationships in a detailed manner, passing the data to over 40,000 support agents and business teams to determine trends. By gaining a better understanding of the touch points, Comcast could answer essential questions that they couldn't before, such as how many proactive messages are sent, how proactive communication influences customer contact rates, and what conditions lead to inbound support calls. As a result, they were able to eliminate 1.3 million support calls.
3. How Slack Improved the B2B SaaS Model
Tech startup Slack paid careful attention to each customer and how their strategy could improve their business. The combination of Slack's product, branding, and emphasis on its customer experience helped them hit impressive growth. Once they launched, Slack used its Net Promoter Score and the activation rate of new users and their teams. To grow their customer base, they focused on an easy and fun onboarding experience that offered fair pricing. On top of that, their clear and honest pricing helped them win over millions of customers and it is now one of the most successful B2B tech companies on the market.
How Can a Call Center Help With Creating Customer Experience Strategy
By outsourcing your customer service strategy to a call center or a contact center, you help to improve the overall customer experience for your customer. Here are only some of the ways that Hit Rate Solutions can assist your business:
- We understand your customer and our expertise with customer interactions and our background knowledge of your ideal customer persona allow us to better engage with incoming calls and help us provide assistance in a streamlined and affordable manner.
- Our large team can help reduce customer waiting times which reduces the level of friction or frustration that your customers might feel.
- Using live chat features, we are able to interact with your customers both online and over the phone to help resolve issues quickly.
With a simplified customer experience, we’re here to help reduce your stress and increase the bottom line of your business.
At Hit Rate Solutions, we offer 24/7 customer support and the average response speed is 5 seconds. We know what it takes to achieve impressive levels of customer service that will keep you and your customers happy around the clock. If you’ve been searching for the right solution for your business, help is only a phone call away. Call us today to learn more about our services and how we can help.