What does the average customer think about your brand? What do they think and feel when they encounter your brand for the first time, and when they make their first purchase?
Customer experience (CX) is more important than most companies realize. If you can master this strategy, you can secure all the customer loyalty you’ll ever need.
Defining Customer Experience (CX)
Let’s establish what customer experience (CX) is and how it’s different than, say, customer service. Customer experience is a concept that defines a customer’s perceptions of and interactions with your brand. For example, a customer’s first impression of your brand, their interactions with salespeople, their first purchases, and even their use of your product are all elements of the customer experience in total. Your CX strategy is all about making this experience more positive, more consistent, and ultimately more favorable for both your customers and your brand.
How to Improve Your Customer Experience
There are many ways to improve your customer experience, but these are some of the best:
- Identify and understand the customer journey. The first step of any CX strategy is to define and lay out the average customer’s journey. What is the first interaction a customer has with your brand? What leads them to a purchase? How do they interact with your brand before, during, and after that purchase? What kinds of ongoing communication do you offer? The better you understand this flow, the more you can improve it.
- Keep your brand top of mind. One of the easiest ways to make your CX more effective is to keep your brand top of mind whenever possible. Communicate with customers regularly and advertise enough to improve recognition. Customers should never go too long without thinking about your brand.
- Proactively engage with customers. Next, engage with customers proactively. Your customers shouldn’t be reaching out to you primarily; you should be reaching out to them. Proactive communication helps you identify potential problems before they grow worse and gives you a chance to have more meaningful conversations with your customer base.
- Immediately resolve problems. Inevitably, your customers are going to have problems with your brand. They’re going to be upset about delays, or disappointed with the quality of your product, or they might be frustrated about a past interaction. In any case, it’s your responsibility to resolve problems immediately if you can. Offer an apology and try to make things right.
- Improve employee training and (by extension) customer service. Positive customer experiences often stem from great customer service. And great customer service is often a byproduct of great employee training. Improve how you educate, train, and develop your customer service team; give them the resources and the knowledge necessary to give their best performance.
- Integrate your marketing and advertising campaigns. Marketing and advertising are also part of your customer experience; these are often the channels through which you’ll reach new customers for the first time. For them to be truly effective as an extension of your CX strategy, they need to be integrated with the rest of your CX strategy. They need to be aligned with your brand goals, and they should seamlessly lead into the rest of your customer journey.
- Personalize offers. No customer likes to be seen or thought of as a generic “customer.” Each customer is a unique individual with unique perspectives and needs. You can improve the average customer’s experience by personalizing more of it; address your customers by name and give them personalized offers whenever you can to cater to their individuality.
- Reward loyalty. Customers will have a more favorable experience and will be much more likely to stick with your brand if you go out of your way to reward their loyalty. This could mean establishing a customer loyalty program, or something simpler, like sending freebies and discounts to your customers periodically.
- Leverage the power of AI. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful technology that can improve your CX in a number of different ways. You can use it to automate some elements of customer service, provide more intelligent recommendations to customers, or engage with customers in conversation directly.
- Improve usability. Finally, focus on the usability of your products, services, and even your company website. The customer experience should be a seamless one, with no friction to hinder their progress.
Feedback and Improvement
Arguably the best way to improve your CX strategy is to gather feedback directly from your customers. Measure and analyze factors like customer churn, and conduct surveys with both quantitative and qualitative questions to learn more about how customers feel about your brand. Use these data to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and improve over time.