Why great customer experiences matters
Customer experience (CX) is key to the success of any business and one of the most important factors in cultivating customer loyalty. This is achieved through increased satisfaction, clear communication of your brand values and a reduced churn rate, leading to better long-term relationships with your target audience.
There’s no doubt that some businesses struggle to acquire and convert new customers. It’s estimated that the average ecommerce conversion rate is between 1-3%. According to Paul Farris in his book Marketing Metrics, “a repeat customer has a 60 to 70% chance of converting,” which means you can’t afford to let them split away due to bad CX.
What causes bad customer experiences?
There are multiple factors that can create bad CX, from the relatively small, such as a difficult checkout process to large PR disasters like the case of a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight in the age of social media. While these two examples sit at different ends of the scale, they both have the effect of damaging brand loyalty and therefore the bottom line.
What tactics should you be employing to create great CX and return customers?
1. Knowing who your customers are
Improving the customer experience starts with your buyer personas, because marketers need to know who their customers are. Therefore, customer profiles are key and while every customer is different, they can also be divided up into segments that reflect their behaviors. Marketers should take the following factors into consideration when creating personas:
- Job title
- Buying habits
- Pain points
- What they expect from your product or service
By knowing who your customers are, you’ll better be able to create relevant and personalized content, targeted ads and posts on social media that convert.
2. Listen to your customers and act
It’s not enough to just know who your customers are; you need to listen to them too, gather feedback and take action on the things they say. Feedback is ubiquitous among brands, but there are many ways to go about collecting it. Some of the most effective include:
- Customer feedback surveys to identify feelings towards the business and areas that need improvement
- Follow-up emails once a product or service has been provided. They can be formatted as a poll, survey or questionnaire
- Live chat to address issues on the spot
- Social media in the form of direct messages, surveys, polls or comments on posts
- Asking directly over the phone or face-to-face
3. Collect CX management scores
As well as asking for opinions when you reach out for feedback, it’s also worth collecting scores that can be turned into useful data. These usually sit within four key metrics, which offer a valuable insight into different areas of your customer experience management:
- Customer Effect Score (CES)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
- Time To Resolution (TTR)
4. Create a seamless online experience
Customers can communicate with your brand through many channels, but it’s vital that none of them are neglected. While many businesses have now successfully implemented a multichannel strategy, this isn’t enough for customers to benefit from a seamless online experience - it must become omnichannel.
That means customers can expect and receive the same level of service whether they get in touch over the phone, in person or through any one of the many online channels available to them. Not only this, but as they switch from one to the other, they’ll find that all information about their account is shared across departments and solutions can be found quickly.
In the 2020 Marketing Automation Statistics Report, it was found that there was a 287%
higher purchase rate when three or more channels were used successfully. This was summed up by Deloitte in its Unlocking the Power of the Connected Customer report, when it said: “Connected customers want to be able to buy anytime, anywhere.” Omnichannel is the way to make that happen.
5. Utilize a powerful CRM
It's beneficial for a business to collate information about their customers; who they are, their likes and dislikes, their interests, their preference on content, their favored methods of interaction and their contact details. An effective and powerful CRM tool is of the upmost importance when identifying the customer base.
In an age of information and big data, businesses are also able to implant a customer intelligence tool. This technology initiates speech tracking, and the monitoring of phone discussions between customer and company. The technology enables keywords to be picked up within a conversation, allowing a business to collate and analyze data that can continually inform a customer experience strategy. These tools can also pick up certain algorithms, for example, the click habits of a customer. This presents powerful marketing opportunities, like being able to re-serve an advert or message towards a customer.
6. Invest in data analytics
No modern business can hope to achieve high standards of customer experience without a clear strategy to leverage the data at its disposal.
Analyzing your customer data to gain actionable, applicable insights can deliver all sorts of benefits, such as enhanced personalization. If, for example, you're able to ascertain from your data when your audience is most active on social media, you can ensure you're communicating and posting content at the times they’re most likely to see it and get value from it.
Having a firm handle on your data can also help you ensure you're getting the basics right, such as having people's correct names and contact details. Research has shown that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when they receive a personalized experience, so it's clearly important to get this right.
Another specific data-related function that can help you optimize the customer experience is behavior analytics. Examining past preferences and decisions can make it easier to predict what actions people will take in the future, improving your ability to keep them happy.
It's also becoming increasingly important to monitor customer activity in real time, which can make you more responsive to your users' changing needs and priorities.
7. Don't neglect human interaction
In a digitally dominated landscape, human interaction is becoming increasingly important. Despite technological advancements, studies have shown humans thrive on person to person interaction, with 67% of customers hanging up the phone out of frustration that they could not talk to a real person. Your customer service team, whether communicating via online chat, on the phone or face-to-face, are often the first, sometimes the only, voice, face or personality that your customer will engage with pre or post transaction. It is therefore crucial to embed a companywide understanding of what constitutes great customer service and experience, and it is worth considering implementing a strategy that recognizes, celebrates and rewards exceptional delivery of customer experience in addition to any sales incentives that your business might already be engaged with.
In order to ensure that your customer experience strategy is truly cutting edge, you must make certain that the online and offline elements work together harmoniously, and are able to respond to a modern customer who increasingly expects instant gratification in a timely manner.
8. Create customer-oriented communications
How you communicate with your customers is fundamental to the overall experience you deliver and how they feel about your brand. One of the key priorities in this area is to ensure your communication strategy is designed to reflect the needs of the customer, not the business.
The evolution of artificial intelligence has given rise to useful engagement tools such as online chatbots, which can prove mutually beneficial to the business and your audience. Chatbots that are able to give satisfactory answers to common queries can save you time and money, while enabling users to get quick and easy answers to their questions.
However, when people have more complex issues and want to speak to a human being, chatbots can feel like more of a hindrance than a help. It's vital, therefore, that your customers have access to a range of communication options and can choose the one that works best for them.
Equally valuable, from a customer experience perspective, is proactive communication. If you're able to anticipate users' needs or problems before they arise - another faculty that can be acquired through effective data analytics - you can engage as early as possible and deliver a positive outcome for the customer without them having to come to you.
If people feel well-informed and looked after, they’re much more likely to buy from you again and recommend you to others.
9. Provide loyalty rewards
Keeping your existing customers happy is just as important as bringing in new business, if not more so. People who have made the decision to buy from you in the past are likely to do so again, unless they’ve had a particularly bad experience.
Even in cases where someone has had a negative experience, there’s potential to re-engage and focus on what went wrong to avoid it happening again, possibly with a discount or some other incentive thrown in to sweeten the deal.
From a purely financial perspective, attracting new customers is thought to cost five times more than retaining existing ones. So, compensating customers for their loyalty can be universally beneficial.
Returning buyers receive a better experience by earning rewards - which could be points on purchases to get money off in the future, or access to exclusive discounts - while you enjoy the advantages of repeat business.