Customer experience is one of the new frontiers of marketing. Customers, in the market powered by industry 4.0, are more interested in the experience than in the product itself. In fact, according to a research held by Momentum Worldwide in 2019, 76% of the participants declared to prefer experiences over things.
This is closer to our own lives than you might think. Have you ever felt so well treated by a company that you eventually became their client for life? Or that a salesperson seemed to know your needs so well that you made an impulse purchase right on the spot?
On the other hand, have you ever found it so hard to navigate a website that you couldn’t find or buy what you wanted? Or had to wait so long for technical support on a product or service you bought that you never used that company again, nor recommended it to anyone?
All of those situations have to do with the same business aspect: Customer Experience. Miles away from that simple and old idea of mere customer service, it is one of the biggest marketing trends today. And it involves reconfiguring your whole business around the idea of providing a customer with what he wants and needs, before he or she even knows they might need it.
Want to know more of how that works? Don’t worry, we got a simple and complete guide to help you improve your “CX” in no time.
What is Customer Experience and why is it important?
Customer Experience, also known as CX, is the summary of every physical or virtual interaction a customer has with your business. It is the sum of what defines his or her perception of your brand, starting from the very first contact up to their level of satisfaction at the end of their experience.
Simply put, CX is one of the most fundamental parts of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) because it is what will decide if any individual that comes in contact with your business will become a repeat and loyal customer.
From your website usability to how your employee treated them, and how satisfied they were with your product, every piece of the puzzle will define how happy your brand made them – and, most importantly, if they are willing to come back.
In addition, a happy customer is not only a loyal one. Oracle conducted a global study in which 74% of senior executives stated a good experience will make customers become advocates for your business.
Not only will they come back, but they will talk about you with their friends, family, coworkers. They will recommend you, defend you, and bring you new business. They will become your marketing tool.
The importance of CX can be summed up in a simple idea: without customers, you don’t have a business. And an American Express research found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. This is why your main focus should be on investing in that experience, so you retain the ones you have, while also attracting new ones.
Why should your business focus on CX?
In an ever more scattered and competitive market, Customer Experience is set to be the defining factor that makes someone opt for your brand, and not another. A third of customers will quit buying from a business after their first bad experience. On the other hand, half of them are likely to splurge on an impulse purchase if they receive a personalized treatment from an employee, or even an online interface.
And if a customer rates your company 10/10 on a satisfaction level, he or she will probably spend more than twice as much on your brand. Their loyalty may last for over five years. When you are happy with a product or a service, you don’t quit them.
Talking in money figures, according to a study by the Temkin Group, businesses that make US$1 billion a year can increase that number by US$ 700 million in three years, simply by investing in CX. The reason is, by doing that, they attain higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn and, consequently, increased revenues.
If you want to make that kind of money, that means you cannot ignore your customer needs, their emails, feedback, queries, and expectations. You have to listen, understand, and act based on what they tell you.
That is why a Bloomberg Businessweek survey revealed that great customer experience is a top strategic objective right now for any kind of company. It is the most effective way to beat your competitors, and get your customer to not only come back and spend more, but to become your marketing tool, through word-of-mouth, positive online reviews, and recommendations to their friends and acquaintances.
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Is customer experience the same thing as customer service?
Absolutely not! Customer service is when a potential client interacts with one of your employees, in a store, online, or on the phone, for example. And that is just one part of the customer experience.
If you go to a restaurant, and your order is served quickly, and tastes delicious, that is good customer service. But if you become a regular at that particular restaurant, the chef knows that you are allergic to onions, and does not use them in your food without you even having to ask, that is great customer service.
Because that is the heart, the central element, of CX: seeing and treating your customer as a human, an individual, and not a simple source of money. Customer experience is all about providing a human and authentic connection, one that does not feel run-of-the-mill, nor a script from a production line. It feels unique and personal.
Technology today, such as a CRM software, has made it possible for that individual experience to be executed in many different ways. Predicting future purchases and needs based on the customer’s history, or delivering targeted email marketing campaigns are good examples. However, it is still about seeing each one of them as an individual, listening to them, and anticipating their expectations and needs.
That does not mean customer service is not important. On the contrary. Providing assistance, answering every email, complaint, or question – and quickly – is more imperative than ever. But that is only one part of your customer experience, that has to start positively from the homepage of your website and last long after a purchase is made.
What makes for a good customer experience?
Exactly because good CX must feel personal and unique, there are no automatic formulas or guaranteed recipes. The one key element that is at the beginning of every good customer experience is: listen.
Know how to listen
Listening to what your customers are saying to your business, and about your business, must be your top priority. Every feedback, email, technical support call, or online review must not only be dealt with quickly, but also used as raw material to create a strategy in reducing friction and providing better and more personalized service for your customers.
Have a good system
In order to do that, a system that puts all that feedback and information together, and analyzes it, is essential. The logic is simple: create channels that make it possible for your customer to tell you what he/she wants, likes, or does not like, acknowledge and understand their demands; then act on them.
If you are not doing that, the alternative result is quite clear. Your complaint and purchase lines are clogged, and your customer is frustrated with long waiting times – which is the number one cause of bad customer experience.
The dialogue does not flow organically because your employee does not understand what your customer needs – which may make your employee’s frustration come off as rude or angry. Consequently, your client support is left with many unresolved issues and complaints. And your customer is dissatisfied with automated responses, and the lack of a personal, human, component. Those are all the roots of bad, or terrible, CX.
Mock up your typical consumer
Know, though, that it’s not easy. Most companies still don’t provide good or excellent customer service. In order to change that, your CX policy must come from the top of the chain, expressed in clear and public guidelines, available and known by everyone in your business.
For example, create personas, so your employees know whom they will be dealing with. Provide training for those same workers. And listen to their feedback, too. They are the ones on the frontline, so they are in an ideal position to see and feel what your company might be doing right or wrong – and how to improve it.
Always ask questions
Finally, never hesitate to ask questions. Use your chat platforms to better know your customers and their current experience with your brand. Follow those conversations up with emails. If necessary, outbound calls are not off the table.
And remember: it’s all about empathy. Emotions play a huge part in customer experience. It is precisely the emotions that will determine if your customer wants to remain in business with you or not.
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But how do I measure if all of this is working?
Measuring and analyzing is one of the most challenging parts of customer experience. That is why a number of different metrics and tools were created to assess the quality level of CX in a particular company.
With them, it is possible to evaluate the effectiveness of specific strategies, as well as how they improve or not the customer’s perception of, and relationship with, your brand. The four CX measuring tools that are most used in the market today are listed in the following topics.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
It measures how easy, or difficult, a consumer’s experience with one of your products or services was. Here’s how it works: a customer made a purchase on your website, for example, and you wish to know how easy it was for him or her to navigate the e-commerce platform.
So you send a CES survey after they are finished, asking questions like “How easy was it to complete your online purchase”, or “to navigate our website”, with a rating scale from ‘1: very difficult’ to ‘7: very easy’. Pretty straightforward.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
We all have answered a Net Promoter Score survey before. It measures a customer’s loyalty score, by asking a variation of the “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?” question.
In addition to being very simple and straightforward, that numerical score is a quite good assessment of customer experience. That is why the metric, created by Rob Markey and Fred Reichheld at Bain and Company, is favored by many boards and executive committees, being one of the most used by businesses in the world today.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
While Net Promoter Score evaluates the satisfaction with the whole brand, CSAT surveys the customer’s experience with a specific product or service. The metric system, though, is pretty much the same, usually providing a scale from 1 to 5 or 7 – where 1 is very unsatisfied, and 5/7 is very satisfied. A yes or no answer may also be used, however.
Due to its specificity, and for how it makes possible to analyze each different point in the customer experience chain separately, most CX leaders in the world choose CSAT as their top metric.
Time to resolution (TTR)
One of the main sources of customer frustration, and bad experience, is waiting a long time to get a response. For that reason, TTR is a very important metric. It measures, in average, how long it takes for a customer’s issue or ticket to be solved by a company’s brand after it’s been open.
The result may be provided in days or business hours, being the product of the whole sum of time spent in resolution divided by how many tickets and issues were solved. The logic here is pretty obvious: shorten your TTR as much as possible, if you want to increase the likability of having return business from a customer.
Good Customer Experience results all over the world have come from companies who have been following a certain set of practices. The first one is that they are customer-centric, instead of profit-centric.
That means their top priority is providing an outstanding experience, focusing more on retaining and satisfying their current customers than on attracting new ones at any cost. Second is that good CX usually comes from old school methods. Yes, again: human interaction.
Companies that privilege one-on-one personal conversations over chatbots, market research (such as customer calls) over predictive analytics and social media, as well as investing in talent on board, often present the best customer experience results. It is not about being state of the art, or overtly technological, but about the willingness to provide good, satisfying service.
Number 3 is something we have already said, but can never overstate: these companies are listening. The base for their CX strategies is the feedback from their customers. Not only they collect it, but they have put systems in place to properly analyze it, and turn the conclusions into action.
Next, they acknowledged the importance of their employees in implementing good customer experience. Not only did they provide specific and individual training, based on different departments’ and workers’ needs, but they also got all their workforce involved in their CX strategy effort.
Finally, no matter how well they are doing, Customer Experience leaders in the globe keep increasing their investment on CX initiatives.
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So, how do I Improve my CX strategy?
A good CX strategy consists of guidelines and actions that start from the very top and involve the whole company. It must be assimilated by every employee because to a greater or lesser extent, they will all eventually play a role in the customer’s experience of your brand.
These guidelines and actions must come from a very simple customer-centric principle: make your employees understand they should treat a customer the same way they would like to be treated by any business.
In order to do that, make your customer feedback – that same one you already collected and properly analyzed – available for everyone in your team. Let them see and know how they can improve those experiences you have surveyed.
And that is ever more effective the sooner it starts. Your workers should be informed of your customer policy as soon as they are hired. And through training and support, they must be updated and refreshed on those practices as often as possible.
There are two powerful tools that you can incorporate to your strategy and will make your brand step up its game regarding customer experience. We are talking about live blogs and live chats.
Most companies use live chats as a customer service channel. But did you know it is also possible to use this tool to generate an experience for our consumer?
Some platforms, such as Arena, allow you to create live group chats. This means your audience will be able to comment on your event, exchange impressions and also very valuable information.
Depending on the profile of your audience, you can promote this space as a powerful networking opportunity for them to connect with people who have similar interests and valuable contributions for them both personally and professionally.
On the other hand, you, as a brand, will receive immediate feedback from your customers. This will allow you to know exactly what they like and dislike, which gives you the opportunity to redefine your course of action immediately. As a consequence, you will offer an even better experience to your audience, making them loyal to your brand and the content you produce.
This is customer experience to its core, generating true value for your public and allowing your brand to be a vector for meaningful relationships.
Live blogging is a new approach to content marketing. As the name suggests, these are platforms that allow you to create content as a particular event or set of events unfold. It gives your audience (or public, as you might want to call) a chance to have access to things they otherwise wouldn’t.
There are basically two ways in which you can use live blogging. The first one is to provide a full coverage of an event. This means that people who haven’t been able to attend feel like they are actually participating. Big tech events make full use of this technology for this kind of use.
The second way in which you can benefit from live blogging is to broaden your user’s experience. Let’s say, for example, your company is promoting a big event with celebrities and big names of the area.
In this situation, you can use a live blogging strategy to grant access to the backstage or to have specialists commenting on the theme of the event. You can also directly interact with your audience by publishing trivias and reposting what they have been saying about the event online.
Live blogging is a fine way to deliver a greater customer experience to your public. By adopting this technology, you are giving them the opportunity to have access to exclusive content, personalised interaction and relevant content.
Lastly, because it all comes down to this, and you have to remind yourself of that every day, all the time: in order to provide a great customer experience, listen to your customer and their feedback.
Create channels so they can speak to you. Listen to what they want, need, like, and don’t like. Use that in your favor. Engage in the conversation, ask questions, try to understand them better.
In short: see them as human, as an individual, as your business partner. Speak their language, with them, not to them. And be quick. Don’t make them wait. Nobody likes to wait.
If you want to start testing some of the tools that will allow your brand to offer an even better customer experience, here’s what you can do: create an account at the Arena and implement our freemium version of the live blog and live chat!