Customer experience should be central to your business growth plans

It’s widely accepted that customer experience (CX) can make or break a business. In fact, as many as ​84% of customers​ say the experience a business creates is as important as the product or service they provide. A great customer experience creates advocates, whereas a poor experience creates detractors and word of mouth is still the most powerful referral method. So, if a trusted colleague, friend or family member shares a positive or negative review of a business, it can leave a profound and lasting impact.

Gather Insights from Customer Data

As a small/medium business that’s trying to level up, creating a customer experience to rival some of the global companies who inevitably share your customer base can seem overwhelming. But you have access to the same starting point as any business when creating a customer experience strategy – your customer data.

A successful CX strategy is based on 3 elements:

  • Emotional response ​- whether your service involves a highly emotive moment, such as booking a holiday or in a situation where a user may have negative emotions such as an insurance claim, tailoring the desired emotional response should be part of the plan.
  • Ease​ – the customer should only have to put in the minimum amount of effort to achieve their goal, whether that’s to seek help, make contact or resolve a problem.
  • Efficiency ​- an effective experience should allow the customer to achieve their goalwithout the need for further interactions, for instance, calling back on a different number to a different customer service team.

By collecting feedback from customers on these three areas, you can extract insights about their experiences from the responses.

Customer feedback can come from a number of sources and give varying levels of depth:

  • Net promoter score ​- a top-level indicator of how customers feel about doing business with you, often collected after an interaction or transaction
  • Surveys – by phone, text, email or in person, whichever will give you the greatest depth of insight
  • Voice of the customer ​- a combination of technology that allows you to monitor customer feedback through any medium, including calls and social media. Often incorporating speech and text analytics, this type of initiative will often give the greatest range and depth of feedback.

Create your CX Strategy

Now that you know how your customers feel about your business and some of the specific issues they are facing, you can begin to ​create your customer experience strategy​.

Rather than fix individual issues in isolation, consider the customer experience as a holistic journey. Ask questions such as ‘what do you want your customers to think, feel and do at each step?’. ​Customer journey mapping​ can be a really helpful tool in this situation. It can help you address common motivations and pain points through the journey in order to delight your customers at every interaction.

Don’t forget that you still retain all the advantages of a small/medium business. Make use of your agility, your close-knit team and your (hopefully) loyal customer base to make changes quickly and effectively.

Learn, Grow and most importantly, Iterate

Customer expectations don’t stand still, so why should your customer experience? As technology improves, buying habits change. Customers expect to interact through any channel or device they choose and for the experience to be seamless every time. This means a fully connected process that’s mobile-first.

Delivering this omnichannel experience usually requires a ​single customer view​. That means customer data in one single place so there’s one single source of the truth. As a growing business, you probably have data in multiple places and multiple systems, some of which may not be growing with you. Legacy data systems are one of the key limiting factors in creating a seamless customer experience. Consider undertaking a ​data integration​project as part of your CX planning.

If you own bricks and mortar locations, trying to combine your offline and online customer experience can be an added challenge. But that’s where you can learn from bigger retailers who’ve already overcome this (or attempted to). ​Argos introduced e-receipts ​in 2014 with the aim of not only helping customers keep records of their buying history but also to link up online customers with offline purchases. In 2017, they were among the ​top multichannel retailers​. Over ¾ of orders are still collected in-store, meaning their in-store experience couldn’t afford to lag behind. The clumsy, albeit nostalgic, laminated catalogues became a thing of the past and customers can now browse and order from screens without needing to visit a till point.

Another global retailer committed to their customer experience is ​Nike​. Hyper-focused on their customers, they use the Nike app to deepen their relationship with their customers. Their ‘Nike by you’ initiative allows customers to order their own custom design in the epitome of personalised experiences. Pick your fabrics, your shoe, your sport and have a completed customised shoe delivered in 3-5 weeks.

So, if you’re new to thinking about your customer experience or you’re in the midst of a growth journey and trying to make sure your CX strategy can keep up, there are three things to remember:

  1. Remember to ask for and then listen to your customers’ opinions
  2. Always do what’s best for your customers
  3. Set yourself the goal to deliver a truly omnichannel experience