How to Improve Customer Experience in 5 Steps
By Megan Wells
How can companies improve customer experience? This question is a top priority for many brands --for good reason. A focus on your customer experience pays off in the form of increased revenue and lowered costs.
Forrester reports that brands with superior CX drive superior revenue growth in competitive markets--specifically, 5.7 more revenue growth than laggards in the same category. In addition, it costs 5X as much to attract a new customer as to keep an existing one.
Whether you’re already working with a comprehensive CX strategy or just starting to change your company’s mindset, know that creating fans and loyalists out of your customer base takes empathy, time, trial and error, and a healthy dose of honesty.
Here are five ways to improve your customer experience with practical steps that will lead to lowered customer churn, more revenue, and most importantly: happier customers.
How to improve customer experience: getting started
Step 1: Create a clear customer experience vision
Before getting into the weeds of the “how” of improving customer experience, it's important to reconnect to your company’s “why.” Creating a customer experience vision statement anchors your efforts to a common goal and creates a clear standard for customer interactions for each member of your company.
Inspiring customers begins with inspired employees, but you can’t turn the tide without buy-in from leadership across departments. For tips on getting internal stakeholders on board, see our post on how to build a customer experience strategy.
Start your CX revamp mission by tapping key employees and leaders from each department. Get those colleagues together to brainstorm what kind of company you want to be for your customers. Involve leadership in the process.
Customer experience vision statements should be simple and succinct. Need some inspiration?
Check out some customer favorites below:
- State Farm: Remarkable. Every day. Every customer. Every interaction.
- Warby Parker: We believe that buying glasses should be easy and fun. It should leave you happy and good-looking, with money in your pocket.
- The Ritz-Carlton: The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
Step 2: Map your customer journey
A recent report revealed that 67% of global CX professionals are using, or have used, customer journey mapping. Of that group, almost 90% said they saw increased customer satisfaction as a result of their customer journey mapping programs.
Even if you’ve completed this exercise before, your customer journey map should serve as more than just a one-off deliverable. Evaluate all of the ways your customer can come to understand your brand - it’s likely changing constantly--and chart their potential paths to purchase. Just the act of assembling these actions to paper can uncover ideas of how to improve, like uncovering gaps in the software onboarding process, or realizing that customers may need more support after critical lifecycle stages.
For more guidance in creating your customer journey map, check out our post on the topic here.
Step 3: Take an honest look at your data
A study by Bain & Company revealed that while 80% of 362 companies surveyed claimed to deliver a superior experience, only 8% of customers agreed. If you and your team can have an honest conversation about where you stand today, you’re already one huge step closer to a better customer experience than most companies.
Your next meaningful step in improving customer experience is in taking a look at existing data within the CX realm. This could be from customer survey data like NPS, CSAT, and CES scores, or otherwise. Consider the following questions to uncover trends or patterns:
- Where do we see lowered ratings in our NPS score? Have they fluctuated or remained static?
- At any NPS low points, do CSAT scores within the same time range dip for a specific service or product line?
- Do CES scores indicate that products or services are getting easier or harder for customers to use?
If nothing stands out, your next step is to overlay CX data with other sources such as the revenue generated per customer or the frequency of returns. Is there an entry point in the customer journey that correlates to lowered spend per customer? Do power user customers of a certain feature set report higher call frequency to support?
Being able to zoom in on specific interactions will be critical in your efforts, so consult your continuous intelligence platform to see where CX data meets other business KPIs.
Coming out of this process, ask your team: are we delivering a superior customer experience today? If the answer is no, gather changes that need to be made by identifying all friction points. Rather than simply fixing these areas of concern, brainstorm ways that those fixes can bring joy. Not sure what that might look like? Here are 3 excellent customer experience examples to inspire you.
If the answer is “we don’t know,” keep reading.
How to improve customer experience: sharpening the focus
You have your customer experience vision in place, you’ve done your homework in mapping your customer journey, and you have your team up to speed with the right data within your intelligence platform. So far so good--but what if there are still areas of concern or not enough data to come to any conclusions yet?
Step 4: Collect (and act on) employee feedback
Employee feedback is a treasure trove of information, yet it’s often the last to be tapped after sifting through direct customer data. However, this step is essential (especially if customer data collection efforts are just starting or you lack ample data).
Host a brainstorming session or create an anonymous survey across departments. The goal is to hopefully surface issues your employees see from the ground up. Utilize open-ended questions to capture what you may have missed in your ideation process.
Consider the following approaches:
- Pool ideas: Ask questions like: “What would help improve the customer experience? What ways can we make [insert operational step, product, or service] better for our customers?” Certain groups interact with customers in ways that may surprise you--like the sales engineer who spends more time on the phone with customers than running demos, or a marketing manager digging into survey responses. Offer suggestions, but leave room to capture open-ended feedback.
- Pinpoint areas of customer concern: Questions along the lines of, “What frustrates our customers?” could draw attention to areas of concern that may not be discernible with data, such as a step in the purchasing path that’s broken, an insufficient onboarding process, or hidden glitches within the product that need fixing.
- Uncover areas for operational improvement: Brave questions like, “Where do you see difficulties in delivering excellent service for our customers?” can reveal details you wouldn’t uncover in your standard customer surveys. Expect to see some hesitancy as this could surface management or policy issues, but paired with a willingness to change, these responses may give you some of the best growth opportunities. Remind people that the goal is to gather honest feedback to fix what’s broken.
Once feedback is collected from your peers, start to look at customer data from step 3 through this new lens. From here, you’ll be able to come up with new hypotheses to test and potential low-hanging fruit changes.
Are customers frustrated with certain parts of the initial install? See if you can add an onboarding widget to educate them on each step of the process. Notice confusion surrounding a feature’s usage? Offer them a video walk-through of expected behavior when they navigate to those areas in the product.
Meaningful adjustments to your product or onboarding processes will take time. However, start to test incremental changes over the course of the initial rollout alongside satisfaction ratings to see if your efforts are making an impact.
Step 5: Implement new CX efforts & measure ROI
Once you’ve come up with a prioritized list of changes, it’s time to put those ideas into action. It may be worth it to assemble these changes into a comprehensive launch plan and involve a project manager. Before you begin work on that new onboarding wizard or feature fix, however, ask yourselves what the expected outcome should be and what metric can be used to accurately gauge your success.
Set benchmarks that align with company goals and continue to encourage consistent feedback via your customer experience surveys as a start. Agree to what’s being tested over a set period of time, and be clear (and realistic) about the suspected outcome.
A 20+ point increase in your NPS score won’t happen overnight, but a new release’s effect on product satisfaction scores will start to reveal itself in as little as 1-2 weeks’ time. Cross-reference those statistics with revenue per customer--are fluctuations in satisfaction having an effect on revenue generated?
Choosing the right KPIs to track is essential to proving ROI, but getting the company in the habit of continually going back to these new KPIs will be a challenge.
One way to keep yourself and the team accountable for these metrics is to empower employees with the data they need to see their progress. Spread ROI tracking responsibilities across employees rather than maxing out your goodwill with the data science team. Direct involvement in reporting and analysis gives everyone a chance to bring your new CX vision to life.
Get better CX with Scuba Analytics
Improving your customer experience boils down to one focus: breaking down the barriers between how you do business and delivering what your customer needs. If you stand to make your customers a little more satisfied, you can likely save your company a little more time and money.
Building a symbiotic relationship with customers means your business needs to be a step ahead of the market. But how can companies deliver on customer expectations today and yet remain flexible enough to accommodate changing preferences in the future?
Luckily, establishing a close connection with your customers while having a bird’s eye view of the entire journey for each segment is possible with continuous intelligence. Empowering CX, BI, product, and data science teams with real-time business operational data could be a game-changer for your company.
Transform your business with 360-degree customer experience insights across users, transactions, and data silos. Scuba makes everyone an analyst. For more information, check out this comprehensive guide for improving your customer experience.
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