Intro: Improving customer experience (CX) means – improving people, processes, product, and delivery to customer, such that it helps improve satisfaction, loyalty and helps achieve the overall business goals.
In this article, we explain the top 7 ways to improve your CX program and be 2020-ready!
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Improving Customer Experience (CX): What Does it Mean?
Customer experience (CX) is the impression left on a customer by a brand or organization, based on the quality of interactions during the customer’s lifecycle.
Improving customer experience (CX) means – improving people, processes, product and delivery to customer, such that it helps improve satisfaction, loyalty and helps achieve the overall business goals.
For any business, the motivation to improve customer experience is always tied to at least 2 critical objectives:
- To generate more revenue through more customer acquisition.
- To generate more revenue by retaining, renewing and upselling or cross-selling to existing customers.
Now, what differs across organizations is the amount of time and resources they can invest viz-a-viz returns and ROI. For example, smaller but high-growth organizations may have a more ‘quarter-focused’ approach to improving CX, in order to deliver incremental ROI in the same financial year. For example, this could include making small improvements to the website such that rate of conversion for existing traffic goes up significantly over the first 2 quarters of the financial year, or tweaking the customer service channels in a way to improve retention rates and lifetime value quarter on quarter.
or larger enterprises, CX improvement programs may be planned to span longer time frames, especially when they can afford to wait on ROI. For example, a large travel and hospitality company planning to overhaul its entire user experience across all online channels- from its mobile app to website and social media – which can easily take upto 2 years to design, test and deploy.
Another example is Google’s Android mobile OS UX change in 2013, which went through a massive design and aesthetics overhaul with Google introducing its new ‘material theme’ design language. The implementation was done right, and the media and users alike hailed it to be successful. This upgrade finally put Android’s UX at par with iPhone OS.
In today’s complex marketing environment, CX could mean many different things in both the B2B and B2C context. Certainly it is never just one thing or one function- it is a combination of many different factors delivered by multiple functions in the organization – to ensure that the customer or prospect have as friction-free, seamless and delightful a journey with the brand as possible, each time, across each stage of the buyer’s journey or funnel.
By every touchpoint we mean – from the digital UX to the retail store; from the social media handles to the call centre experience; from the billing and payment experience to the way customer data is collected – each interaction offers the opportunity to improve the CX in order to convert, retain and optimize customer lifetime value.
The Top 7 Tips to improve Customer Experience (CX) in 2020
Today, customers want experiences. They choose brands that offer delightful, easy, convenient buying experiences. Making improvements to these customer experience (CX) is one of the most strategic and controllable ways to accelerate the achievement of lead gen, customer acquisition and retention business goals in 2020 and beyond.
Here are some stats to back it up:
- A 2013 Zendesk study said that 89% of unhappy customers tell others about it, 87% of happy customers also tell others about their experience.
- A 2017 Gartner study had found that nearly 81% of businesses expect to compete purely based on CX in the year 2019.
- A 2018 Accenture survey had found that 87% of companies agreed that traditional experiences no longer deliver customer satisfaction.
- A 2018 Gartner study found that by 2020, 25% of all customer interactions will be through virtual assistants and chatbots.
Now let’s dive into the 7 tips you can incorporate or experiment with to improve customer experience (CX) in 2020!
1.Mobile-first – because mobile is usually the first impression
When it comes to perception and impressions – the first is what lasts! Customer experience needs to improve across all points of interaction, especially where they most likely begin today – on customer smartphones and other mobile devices.
After all, over 70% of all global traffic comes from mobile devices, 61% of consumers read emails on mobile phones and more than 95% of Facebook users are accessing the site on smartphones!
Which means, whether it’s your website, app, newsletter, social media posts, search ads etc – your focus for 2020 needs to be on improving mobile experiences, because that is where your customers are while discovering, engaging and making purchases from your brand / organization.
2.Customer data management (CDM) and personalization
The level of personalization you can provide to a customer depends on the quality and quantity of available information about the customer; andhow well it is organized for analysis and decision making.
In other words, in order to deliver a good customer experience – you need to follow the best customer data management practices.
For example, how would you check customer behavior on your website? How would you even know if your web strategy is working? You check the stats on Google Analytics – which by itself is a web-centric data management and analysis platform. The same goes for Facebook, Twitter and Hubspot (email) analytics. But as you can tell, these platforms do not tell you anything about a specific customer – once they leave that specific channel, that means, you cannot track a user from outside these channels. There is a reason they are called ‘walled gardens’!.
To truly own your customer’s experience, you need to own, manage and activate your first-party customer data without depending on the walled gardens. By centrally managing your customer data and investing in customer data management tools such as CDPs in 2020, you will be able to identify, map, track and create unique customer experiences that are contextual and personalized to each stage of your buyer’s journey, across diverse channels, platforms and devices.
Learn more: What is Customer Data Management?
3.Orchestrated campaigns for omnichannel experiences
Orchestrated multi- or omni-channel campaigns deliver winning customer experiences.
It is crucial to invest more resources into not just tools that help activate customer data across various marketing channels, but to remove silos between various marketing channels in order to deliver seamless customer experience.
For example, we have all experienced the situation where we are browsing our favourite online store for a particular item- lets say a little black dress – and may even buy one, sooner or later. However, long after we have made the purchase, pesky retargeting ads about little black dresses continue to follow up around the web. Or you may receive an email promoting little black dresses even though you already made a purchase. This is a typical example of fragmented customer experience. With an orchestrated approach and appropriate audience management, marketers would be able to move the communication to the next level the moment the black dress is purchased. In practice, you would receive offers for purses and shoes to go with your black dress, and not the dress itself.
In essence, delivering an ‘omni-channel’ experience means the customer can connect with the brand interaction or transaction from any device or channel – be it in-store, on the website, on instagram, using the mobile app or even smart speaker – and seamlessly pick up exactly where they left off last time, without having to either repeat themselves or restart the entire buying journey.
While this sounds like an expensive and technology intensive initiative (it is!), the secret is in prioritizing the channels, platforms and devices that are most impactful to your business, and start making incremental changes, orchestrating campaigns first across a few high-priority channels and then gradually including more and more possible touch points into the mix.
Learn more: What is Omnichannel Marketing?
4.CX gap analysis
Your competition can be your biggest source of learning – this stays true for customer experience as well. Since 2015, many companies, especially those who were large and established, have already invested and conducted many CX experiments and arrived at a set of best practices. If you are looking for an inexpensive starting point for improving your CX in 2020 – start by observing your competitors in 2019. This exercise can be as simple as visiting and interacting with their website, consumer outlets, understanding how their email drip campaigns are aligned etc. Another crucial but often overlooked source of improving your CX? Your own current CX! When was the last time you – as the brand owner – actually tried to buy your own product? Search for it? Make a complaint on customer service? Try to return or exchange a product? Search for product information on your mobile app? Marketers often overlook the power of auditing their own CX at regular intervals to ensure they are not assuming anything about what their customers are experiencing. It is crucial to see, feel, and experience for yourself, in order to identify crucial CX gaps that could turn customers away.
. You may be rather surprised to find that with a few small tweaks and updates, you are able to make significant strides in better CX delivery.
Traditionally, user experience (UX) is a term referred to explain human-computer interactions. However, as more and more customers spend more time in online brand interaction, than offline (phone, in person) the line between User Experience (UX) and CX are increasingly blurry.
We know that a company cannot deliver CX without first aligning itself to become truly customer-centric. This means putting customer interest over business interest, with the hope that this CX focus will in turn payback to meet business goals. And this bet has proved to be correct for some of the world’s most successful brands which compete on experience rather than products or services. Think Virgin, Apple, AirBnB, Uber – brands have fought – and won the battle of conversion and retention – on experience. UX is no different. Whether it is your SaaS product, website or mobile app – designers need to put customer convenience and preferences first. This means following standard best practices that have already been established and testing ground-breaking designs that improve customer engagement, meet customer satisfaction metrics and help achieve overall business goals with as friction-free a journey as possible for buyers.
6.Virtual self-service for next-gen consumers
Millenials are soon set to become the dominant market demographic. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2019, the millennial generation is expected to overtake baby boomers in population, for the first time in history. This can’t be a shock to the CX market, which has been preparing for this eventuality since more than a decade.
A Gartner 2018 study predicts that by 2020, roughly 85% of brand interactions by millennials will without any human aid. While 70% of this generation have been reported to also prefer interacting with chatbots and virtual assistants for day-to-day self-service and trouble-shooting.
Gen Z too is fast-becoming a demographic to be reckoned with, making up 40% of the population by 2020, and command upwards of $40 billion in spending power in the US. Gen Z to has its own characteristics, preferring to buy based on peer reviews and micro-influencers, voice-activated technologies and authentic brand experiences.
Whether it is experimenting with and investing in chatbots and virtual assistants, voice-activated customer service technologies, 5-G enabled augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences, in 2020, brands need to find their sweet spot between human and machine interactions; with a focus on balancing the use of technology without losing their human-ness and authenticity.
7.Geographical / team-based NPS measurement
Today, mature and responsible companies conduct at least 1 customer feedback survey a year, most often, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. This survey asks a simple question – “Based on your experience with our company, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or family”?
The response is captured on an appropriate scale, with the highest rating being ‘most likely’ to recommend and 0 being ‘least likely’. We have all experienced this now at airport check-in counters, billing desks at stores and supermarkets, and even outside public restrooms!
A healthy NPS is indicative of customer trust, satisfaction, loyalty and growth through brand recommendation, which are critical metrics for business survival and growth.
But if you are a mid-to-large size company, and have dedicated customer-facing teams for various regions – nationally and/or internationally, then a single NPS survey will not give you enough intelligence to act on. For this, marketers can choose from one of several survey software companies like SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo and Qualtrics that offer NPS analytics based on location, as well as team distribution. For example, when you take delivery of a product ordered online, you instantly receive a one-question feedback request on your mobile and/or via email, asking for feedback on both- the product and the delivery experience.
NPS allows you to identify areas of improvement and patterns in customer experience feedback, in real-time or near-real-time. For example, if your US sales team gets an aggregate NPS score of 8, the EU sales teams gets a score of 6 – you now have the metrics to understand which team needs more improvements, and you can prioritize resource allocation and investments accordingly. Furthermore, you can also collect employee-specific NPS, where the survey is sent to customers right after a customer service interaction with an executive, as in the case of online-purchase delivery or even a haircut or call centre interaction.
Learn more: Customer Experience (CX) Strategy Tips for 2020