In these highly competitive times, customer experience has garnered quite some attention. Many experts believe it is the next competitive battleground. Products and services no longer prove to be competitive differentiators for businesses. The focus has shifted toward the experience a brand is able to deliver to their customers across the entire customer journey.

Customer experience—or “CX” as it is has been shortened to—refers to the customer’s overall sentiment of every interaction that they have with your company.

Each interaction builds on the last. The compilation of good interactions, poor ones, frustrations, moments of sheer ecstasy (these are rare) generates a result where a conclusion is reached and a general “feeling” is built that represents your company.

The conclusion, the feeling, will either keep them short-term, long-term, or send them into the arms of another.

And the best companies know that CX is the way to customer loyalty, profits, and long-term success.

There are several key steps that you can take to improve your customer experience.

o   Get to know your customer

o   Map out their journey

o   Audit the CX from different perspectives

o   Send CX data to the whole team

o   Learn from churn

o   Obsess over your customers

Get to Know Your Customer

Consider the restaurant manager who breezes by your table and asks a leading question that he/she clearly doesn’t want a real answer to, “Everything great here?” If we’re really angry, we might engage him/her. Other than that, we’ll just nod.

The manager hasn’t learned anything about our interest in returning and hasn’t taken the time to learn about the customers.

“What can we do better?” might elicit a better response. It’s open and if asked at an appropriate time after we’ve finished our food, it might get a real and valuable response.

But getting to know your customer just might be painful. At first.

Your average customer could write a thesis on what they like and what they don’t like about their experience with your organization. This is only valuable if someone is listening and willing to do something about it.

Map out your customer’s journey.

A customer journey map is an outline of every step your customers go through when interacting with your company. This includes engagements that extend beyond just purchasing the product, like social media engagements, online advertising, and customer service cases.

It’s also essential to account for both the pre- and post-sale aspects of the customer experience. While it may be tempting to want to spend the majority of your focus on the interactions leading up to the sale, the post-sale is equally vital to building a complete customer experience.

Think about different touchpoints that the customer has and how those experiences impact the customer’s perspective.

Trevor notes that the customers, “…have to drive into our lot past that dump next door. Maybe we can put up a fence to hide it?”

Renee mentions that the western sun is always making one side of the restaurant uncomfortable.

Eric says that he takes several calls a day complaining about the same website glitch.

With this understanding, your team can better identify the gaps between their desired and current performance and refocus efforts on new areas of your customer experience that could stand improvement.

Audit the customer experience from multiple internal perspectives.

Since the customer journey is affected by every facet of your business, it is imperative that you do not focus on only one department when conducting an audit of customer experience.

Your marketing team will have the best insight into brand awareness and user expectations. They will understand what content your visitors are consuming most, and what will generate the most qualified leads.

Sales team members have information about the challenges that customers are encountering on a daily basis and how they expect your product or service to address those roadblocks.

It’s important to know that what you’re communicating in your sales and marketing processes actually aligns with your customers’ real experiences.

Your customer service and success team can provide insight into this reality as they are typically the first line of communication for feedback and product frustration. They hear honest feedback from customers on a daily basis, so welcome their perspective on what is causing the most problems for your customers.

For example, they can tell you what questions are asked the most during support calls and which topics on your feedback forums are generating the most activity.

Distribute customer experience data to your entire team.

If you want to get your entire company on board with your shiny new customer experience plan, then it is important to be sure that everyone has access to your findings. Keeping your employees in the loop regarding the conclusions you have found from your research will help your team optimize daily internal processes such as customer routing, workflow automation, and client tagging.

Address Customer Needs Faster

Having data regarding where your customers are likely to face obstacles will help your team prevent user frustration and smooth over any confusing pain points in the customer’s journey.

Improve Product/Service Quality

Your customer service team will be able to provide insight on how usability issues with your product or service is affecting the overall customer experience. By having leaders from your success team meet with your product team members, you can review the most common issues related to usability.

Increase Upsell Opportunities

Your sales team will have an easier time identifying upselling opportunities as they will have a better understanding of the best timing to reach out to customers. They can pinpoint specific opportunities on the customer’s timeline to reach out with re-engagement initiatives (like a product add-on) which can increase overall revenue over time.

Learn from churn when it happens

If you can generate a 5% increase in customer retention, you can increase your company’s profits dramatically by 25% or more. A great way to begin is to use in-app analytics to analyze areas of the customer experience where there is low engagement.

Low engagement typically suggests a higher risk of customer churn, especially in the SaaS industry. It will help to create an engagement correlation that can help you identify which customers have the highest risk of churn. You can utilize user app analytics to determine what percentage of engagement will result in the highest likelihood of churn then set up a monitoring system to alert your customer success team if a customer approaches that value.

This gives your team the opportunity to proactively reach out to solve a problem before it’s too late.

Even for the customers that you are not able to prevent from churning, be sure to find out why they decided to move on. Provide multiple channels for customers to leave feedback and take their opinions seriously.

If you are truly focused on creating a better experience for your customers, then you should want to hear about the instances where your company fell short.

Make it easy for the customer to cancel their account, but leverage your success team to find out exactly why this customer decided to cancel.

Obsess over your customers

No matter your niche or market, when you put customers first and think about their welfare, you’ll nurture an army of brand advocates like these highly successful businesses:

LL Bean. Just send it back if you are not satisfied with it, no questions asked.

Amazon. We’ll send you a free shipping label to send back anything you purchase.

Chick-fil-A. Spend too much time waiting in line, here’s a free dessert.

The restaurant where you tell the waitress that your food was burnt, cold, or not right and she looks sympathetic versus the one where the manager immediately comes over, apologizes, and gives you both a free meal now and one later. We’ve all had both experiences, which restaurant will we gladly return to?

Above all things, be passionate about the welfare of customers. Pay attention to customer questions, listen with rapt focus, and deliver outstanding results.

Changing your customer experience begins with being proactive and planning your strategy. The key learning here is that improving the customer experience isn’t a destination, but a journey. Because it doesn’t stop.

Want some help to get you started? Contact us!

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.