Your customer's experience with your business revolves around all the ways they interact with you—from pre- to post-sale. So, to execute a customer experience strategy, you need to develop a plan that gives them the very best service from start to finish. After all, U.S. consumers are willing to pay 17% more for a better customer experience.
We compiled this eight-step, can't-miss customer experience strategy to get you there. Follow these principles and you'll put your business in its best position to succeed.
Define Your Customer Experience Strategy
All your brand's departments should participate in the customer experience (CX) strategy, not just your customer service team. Your entire organization, no matter how big or small, should focus on one primary goal: to improve its relationship with your customers. It's not only the right thing to do, it also makes great business sense. Almost 85% of companies that focus on improving their customer experience also report increased revenue.
Here are some CX best practices that will help you get there.
1. Channel Your Inner Pleaser: Be All Things to All Customers
Do you know your customers? You may think you know them, but the more you understand the people you serve, the better you can solve their problems and meet their needs. It begins by asking questions.
- Talk to your customer service team. Ask them about the people they talk to every day. Then create profiles of your typical customers. This will help you understand their needs.
- Create buyer personas to represent the real people you serve. Consider as many as 20 key questions that will help you better understand who they are. It could be anything from personal demographics to questions about their job, goals, and daily challenges.
There's an old proverb that says you can't please everyone. It might have originated from Benedictine Monk and poet John Lydgate, who once said:
"You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time."
Well, when it comes to your customers, you do need to try to please all of them all the time. After all, they're the ones keeping you in business. Of course, that's easier said than done, but the more you know about your customers, the more effortless that becomes. Find out all you can about them, then put that knowledge into action to better serve their needs.
2. Help Your Customers Help Themselves with Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds futuristic. Maybe it even sounds a little too "far out" for your customer experience strategy. But it plays a big part in how businesses do marketing today. In fact, it's considered one of the customer experience trends you should adopt.
More than half of U.S. consumers prefer an AI experience over talking on the phone or video chatting with a brand. That tells you it's a technology worth implementing. So what are some examples of AI tech you can use? Let's look at a few.
- Cashier-free payments. Forget self-checkout. Now you can walk into a store, grab the items you want, and just walk out. (It may feel like you're stealing, but the matrix has you.) Amazon Go has set the futuristic standard with computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion. It's the kind of tech you'd find in self-driving cars.
- Chatbots. You have a website, right? When you're not able to answer questions from visitors, consider a chatbot that will help your customers 24/7. It may not be a perfect solution, but it will provide immediate help until you can jump in. Best case, the chatbot answers your customer's questions for you.
- Recommendations. Consumers are more inclined to buy from you when you personalize their shopping experience. Give them recommendations based on a previous interactions or their shopping habits.
The best thing about AI is that it never sleeps, even when you do. Your customers may need your help at any hour of the day. With AI tech, you're providing them with that service all day, every day.
3. Make it Easy for Consumers to Buy from Your Brand
This may seem like an unusual addition to your customer experience strategy, but it's an often overlooked detail. How easy is it for someone to buy something from your brand? If you're dealing with e-commerce, in particular, you need to take apart the buying process bit by bit. In fact, you should work backward from the experience you want to deliver to your customers.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs argued that you should start with the customer experience and work backward to the tech part of it. This philosophy has its benefits.
- You're creating empathy. This gives you a better understanding of your customer's needs, as well as how they associate with your product or service.
- It shows why the product is important rather than only talking about what it is. This puts you in your customer's shoes. That's more empathy.
- There's a sense of loyalty and retention to this approach. When you create an emotional connection with your audience, you're proving that the sale is more than a transaction. It's personal.
So what does this ideology look like on a website? Always aim for fast customer service, seamless interactions, easy navigation, and accurate pricing and packaging information. These attributes are a great start to getting your customer experience strategy in a good place and making it easy for your customers to buy from you.
Take Amazon as an example. They've reduced the customer experience for Prime members down to a single click in some cases. You can just open their app, tap a button, and your order will process. Now that's convenient. If you're not comfortable comparing your brand to Amazon, look carefully at your purchasing process. Have a test group go through your sales process. Are you making it as easy as possible for them to buy something from you?
4. Use Your Data to Personalize the Customer Experience
Do you know what your customers want before they do? With your available data, you can create an offer based on a customer's buying history, physical location, social media activity, and much more. Aim to create unique, short-term experiences for your customers that grab their attention. Long-term, these experiences also persuade them to become loyal supporters of your brand.
Intelligent use of your data leads to a personalized customer experience strategy that produces outstanding results.
- Almost 60% of consumers are more likely to shop with a retailer that recognizes them by name.
- 65% of consumers are more likely to shop with a retailer that knows their purchase history.
When it comes to personalization, your customers don't just want it, they expect it. Personalization comes in many forms. Naturally, you can personalize a marketing offer with your customer's name. People love to see their name in print. But you're also personalizing an offer when you send a direct mail campaign and each piece is customized to the recipient's location.
Your data has many uses. However you use that data is up to you. Just make sure to personalize your marketing messages for the ultimate returns.
5. Website Usability: Cater to Mobile, Laptop, and Desktop Users
When you manage your website, you have to consider more than just the person sitting at their desk looking at your site on a desktop or laptop computer. You can't ignore them, naturally, but you also need to consider the mobile visitor.
There are about 270-million smartphone users in the U.S. alone. And more than 50% of website visits are coming from a mobile device. So part of your customer experience strategy should revolve around responsive website design. Responsive means your web site's pages render well on a variety of devices and/or screen sizes.
No matter who visits your website, make sure they're getting the optimal customer experience.
Do you want more convincing numbers?
- About 50% of e-commerce revenue comes from mobile devices.
- If you don't provide a responsive website design for your customers, approximately 60% of them won't buy anything from you. You can't afford to lose that many customers. No business can.
- 85% of website visitors want a seamless experience across all their devices. What works for desktop should also work for mobile—and vice versa.
When it comes to responsive website design, keep up with the times and maximize your brand's value by optimizing it for all devices.
6. Offer Flexibility with Your Marketing Channels
Omnichannel marketing provides your customers with an integrated, seamless experience no matter what channel or device they're using. Don't confuse it with multichannel marketing, however. Here are the differences.
Multichannel marketing is an approach that uses all your marketing channels to speak to your customers. It's more about choice. For example, they could view your marketing message via a retail storefront, website, social media, and/or a direct mail catalog. Same message, multiple channels. This gives your customers options. That's a good thing, but you can do even better.
Omnichannel marketing takes the multichannel concept a step further by allowing all your channels to work together—seamlessly. For instance, if a customer started their shopping experience on a mobile device, they could continue it at one of your retail locations. It's two or more channels working together. Have you ever found an item you wanted online and discovered that it's in a store near you? Before you get to the store, you already know if it's in stock and what aisle it's in. That's one example of omnichannel marketing in action.
7. Learn from Your Results
We talked about data and how to use it to personalize your marketing messages. Well, you can also use it to learn more about your marketing campaigns. After all, your data's telling a story—if you're listening. Outside of guessing how your marketing campaigns performed, data's the only way you'll really know about your results. Data also shows how to make your campaigns better in the future.
Here are some of the CX analytics you can track and analyze:
- Customer effort score. Think of this as a customer satisfaction survey on loyalty. How easy was it for your customer to do business with you? Were there any roadblocks? Customers are ultimately more loyal to businesses that solve their problems quickly and easily.
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT). On a basic satisfaction scale (say 1-5), how did your service meet your customer's expectations?
- Net promoter score (NPS). Your customers are either promoters, passives, or detractors. Your score is based on the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. An NPS above zero is good, but an NPS that's above 50 is outstanding.
- Brand loyalty. It's much easier (and cheaper) to keep the customers you have rather than trying to find new ones. Work to create loyal customers.
- Purchase returns. OK, returns are bad—most of the time. Find out why a product was returned. If it was an issue of quality, you need to make a better product. Otherwise, make it right. Your customers will appreciate the effort to make them happy.
- Churn rate. First, take the number of customers that you lost. Then divide that by the number of customers you started with. The resulting percentage is your churn rate.
8. Don't Forget to Say Thank You
When you take the time to thank your customers, you're well on your way to earning their loyalty. There are many different ways you can show your gratitude, but one of the most effective is a handwritten note of thanks.
A handwritten note is one of the proven retention marketing best practices. Your business should be transparent about your mission, and you should educate and inspire your customers. But thanking them demonstrates how much their business means to you.
Contact us to see how you can start using digitally handwritten notes as part of your customer experience strategy today. Whether you're sending a direct mail marketing campaign or just thanking your customers for their business, handwritten notes are more personal and effective than an email.