Customer Experience: The Guide Used to Help Engage the Modern Customer
In recent years, the idea of customer service has undergone a transformation. The global pandemic, the remote work movement, the advancement of commerce technology — are all factors that have contributed to a shift in the consumer mindset. The modern customer has shrunk their attention span while raising expectations, all the while becoming quick to allow each and every experience to dictate their relationship with a brand.
As a result of this evolution, brands need to consider that the understood concept of customer service is no longer enough to create lasting, emotional connections with their customers. The customer experience (CX) is now the business of the brand: ensuring proactive, authentic interactions from a customer’s initial discovery all the way through to the development of loyal, vocal advocates of the brand.
In this guide, let’s explore what is customer experience, its benefits, how to implement it, and key differences between customer service and customer experience, as well as the best methods for making the essential transition from CS to CX.
What Is Customer Experience?
Customer experience is inclusive of any aspect of a business that affects how a customer feels. Customer experience prioritizes the relationship with the customer, regardless of length of interaction, or past or prospective purchases. Think about the last really good or really bad experience you had when interacting with a brand. This interaction could be something as simple as completing a purchase or as complex as engaging in an extensive live chat conversation about a particular product question.
The Benefits of Customer Experience
Providing a great customer experience reaps benefits far beyond positive feedback from your customers. A CX strategy brings both quantity and quality when it comes to results for any company. Here are four incredible CX benefits:
Higher customer lifetime value: Great CX positions your brand as the first your customers turn to for support. A good product or service isn’t making the cut on its own. This, in addition to world-class CX, will lead to a higher amount of money spent over the entire relationship with your company.
Reduced customer churn: Customer churn, also referred to as customer attrition, is a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures the rate at which customers stop interacting with your brand. An effective customer experience strategy can significantly reduce churn by bolstering a sense of loyalty between customer and brand. While a primary goal should be to obtain new customers, it can be more costly than keeping existing ones satisfied and loyal to your brand. A focus on CX means a focus on building customer loyalty and reducing attrition rates.
Better brand equity: A consistently positive customer experience makes your brand more valuable to the customer. When given the choice between a company with implicit CX strategies and one without, customers will flock to the brand with empathetic and effective support every time. In fact, 79% of consumers say customer service is extremely important when deciding where to shop.
More engaged customer base: Great CX is about flexibility to meet your customers where they’re at. An omnichannel approach, or providing consistent service across all communication channels, makes engaging with your customers that much more accessible.
How to Implement a Customer Experience After Your CX Assessment
While brands may understand that it’s important to take a comprehensive customer experience approach over strict customer service, making the shift from CS to CX can be a daunting task.
There are a number of methods by which brands can begin to reposition themselves into CX, and there are five strategies that are crucial to successfully making the transformation:
Data analytics: The customer experience is one that must be continuously evaluated and improved in order to keep up with the expectations of the modern customer. Capturing and assessing data about your audience’s consumer behavior provides valuable insight into unique shopping habits and preferences, which empowers brands to create a more personalized, tailored shopping experience.
Staff training: The shift to a customer experience-first culture starts from the top down. Successful customer support is only fully beneficial when the entire brand stands behind this idea, which is why teams in every area, not only customer service representatives, need to be trained with a customer-centric mindset.
CX protocols: Consistency is key to creating brand support that presents a unified approach to the customer experience. Before jumping into training your representatives, ensure that thorough, organized protocols have been established.
Proactive support: Customer experience is about being proactive in addressing customer needs, rather than reacting to each new situation. Using data analytics and automation, brands can predict potential issues and directly reach out to their customers, instead of waiting until the customer reaches out to them.
Avoiding pitfalls: The best way to avoid some of the most common challenges in customer service is to take a step back and ensure all your ducks are in a row to provide the most seamless customer experience. This means investing in the software tools that streamline your processes, integrating data analytics throughout your entire organization, and establishing the protocols necessary to continuously monitor your progress and improve as you go.
4 Ways to Improve Customer Experience
Even in a time of rapid growth and success, there is more that any given business can be doing for their customer; sometimes with fewer resources. Businesses need to adjust and adapt to customer expectations. This is where customer service efficiency comes in.
Customer service efficiency means shifting your customer support mindset to handling more inquiries in less time. During COVID-19, customer service teams saw a 17% increase in inquiries. To be more comprehensive in their support, many companies are relying on expanded channel support.
An increasingly popular virtual support option, live chat allows for the one-on-one, compassionate support that customers are looking for. Unlike a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence, live chat utilizes your website to connect a human agent to a customer. This is a low-cost, mutually beneficial solution that will improve customer experience.
Chatbots are an AI-powered customer experience tool that allows customers to receive immediate responses. Chatbots are pre-filled with a content library that answers customers’ most frequently asked questions. In a situation where individualized support is not necessary, chatbots can service a high frequency of customers in a short period of time.
SMS text messages are a convenient and reliable form of support. With nearly a 98% open rate, SMS messages are a proven way to connect with your customer on a platform they are already utilizing. Not only does this sustain an efficient mindset, but it is also a less costly form of support. A Forrester study shows that on average a customer service phone call costs $16. An entire SMS thread between agent and customer costs between $1 and $6. For companies with limited financial resources, SMS might be a good CX channel to expand to.
Social media provides value to your company far beyond the traditional benefits of sharing information with your customers. Social platforms give customers an abundance of information – reviews, posts, business information – to utilize throughout their purchasing decision. Why not take advantage of their existing presence and give customers another place to have their questions answered?
Enhanced E-Commerce Customer Experience
E-commerce alone saw a 14.2% jump in sales during 2021. What it takes for a brand to survive completely shifted during the pandemic — support can no longer be confined to business hours. The idea of customer support alone is no longer enough. Brands have to consider the holistic customer experience to gauge success and retention.
The most concise way to ensure a positive customer experience is by refining the systems that are in play. With this greater reliance on e-commerce and more brands to choose from than ever, customers are looking for companies that are transparent. Providing upfront information across every interaction, not just on product pages, is an essential step in providing great e-commerce CX. This means not minimizing or hiding crucial information, even if it pertains to unfavorable policies. This information includes:
Policy Information: Documentation gives your team a set protocol to refer to when they have questions, as well as seamless access to information needed to answer questions without delay.
Shipping & Delivery Policies: Eliminate second-guessing with clear shipping updates and options as well as delivery notifications.
Exchanges & Returns: Making the policies clear and understandable from the start of the shopping experience will foster customer trust and clarity in the event of a return or exchange.
Warranties: Providing detailed and accurate product information is key. This includes clearly defined specs and descriptions of each item as well as transparent warranty information.