Customer Experience – What it Means and Why it Matters
Have you ever had a bad experience with a business that left you feeling frustrated and uncared for? Maybe you were put on hold for an unreasonable amount of time, or your online order was late and arrived damaged. These negative experiences can quickly turn a loyal customer into a lost one. On the other hand, a positive customer experience can lead to customer loyalty and increased revenue for a business.
Now, more than ever, it's essential to learn about what customer experience is, why it's important, understand the customer's journey and ways to optimize it, and strategize how to deliver the best experience to keep and make loyal customers.
Defining Customer Experience
Simply put, customer experience (CX) is the sum of all customer interactions with a business, from initial contact to after-sales support. It's not just about the product or service, but a customer's overall feeling when dealing with a company. CX encompasses every aspect of a customer's journey, including how they perceive a business's values, culture, and brand. A positive customer experience means a customer feels valued, heard, and understood. On the other hand, a negative CX can lead to customer churn and lost revenue.
The Benefits of Excellent Customer Experience for Businesses
4 Crucial Steps to Understanding CX and How to Optimize it for Maximum Satisfaction
1. Begin by building empathy for your customers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of checking in with the people that use your products and services. But if you’re relying on data about your customers from a few years ago – or even a few months ago – you risk missing the mark when you deliver products and services for them. This is particularly likely in our post-covid world, which has evolved so quickly.
To better understand your customers and empathize with their needs, start with personas. Personas are a fantastic tool to build customer empathy, but creating good ones and utilizing them properly requires you to put yourself in their shoes. When creating them, consider demographic details first, like their age, income, and background.
Then move on to the nuances – the ‘put yourself in their shoes’ piece. The characteristics you consider for your personas should be informed by the voice of the customer (VoC) data, like:
What is most important to them right now?
Are they on a tight budget?
Are they very diligent in comparing all the details of products before purchasing?
Is this a product or service that is purchased for pleasure or necessity?
When combined across customer segments, these attributes can paint a picture of what makes your customers tick, what keeps them up at night, and what their motivations are.
Use this to understand your customers better. But most importantly, use it to view them as people first and paying customers second. When you do that, serving their needs comes much more naturally. It’s a common and fatal flaw to make a PowerPoint slide of a persona that goes on to collect dust. Appropriately used, personas should be integrated into key decisions to prioritize decisions that benefit customers continuously make. Try keeping your completed personas around office spaces – including their faces and names – to help them feel tangible and human. When you make vital decisions, ask yourself and others, “What will this mean for someone like our Jackie persona?”
2. Identify pain points and listen to their frustrations with an open mind.
Now that you understand your customers and their motivations well, it’s time to look at their journey and experience with your brand. This enables the discovery of customer pain points, which is crucial to identifying ways to reduce friction and stress in their experience and work towards building loyalty among your customer base. Journey Mapsare a great tool to accomplish this. Start with looking at the whole journey, from learning about your brand and offerings through the purchase and the entire lifecycle of use of your product. Be sure to trust your customers about their pain points, even if you disagree or business problems stand in the way of quickly resolving their issues.
3. Be willing to change what is not working
Getting bad news hurts. And if you’re really listening to your customers, they will point out several of your flaws (it’s OK, we all have them.). The key is to have a spirit of curiosity and trust. First, be curious enough to hear them out. Then, trust them enough to take their feedback to heart. It’s easy to assume user error or to say, “That’s happening because of such and such business problem, which we won’t be able to fix.” Sometimes business problems, regulations, or factors outside of your control get in the way. However, we must do our best to advocate for the customer wherever possible. Take opportunities your customers identify to heart and have a spirit of willingness to fix it. If you don’t at least try to fix their issue, you never will.
4. Adopt CX and Design Thinking across your Organization
The people that engage with your products and brand are constantly changing. Paying a research firm once or twice to give you a snapshot of the landscape and customer perceptions is insufficient. Incorporating customer centricity across your organization and building it into your ethos is crucial to ensure continuous investment in understanding how your customers are changing and adapting. As this progresses, your organization’s CX maturity increases. Eventually, each project has a CX component to ensure that customer needs are an ever-present north star.
Customer experience is a critical factor in a business's success. By prioritizing CX, companies can create loyal customers who recommend their products and services to others. Understanding the customer journey, providing exceptional customer service, and using tools to measure CX's impact are all essential for creating a positive CX. In addition, by continually tracking and improving CX, businesses can retain customers, increase revenue, and build a positive reputation.
Interested in learning how to improve your customer experience? Fill out the form below, and someone from our experienced team will contact you to discuss your situation.
Marisa, a passionate problem solver with a wide range of expertise as an Aspirant Senior Consultant in Marketing & Innovation. Her diverse background includes product and project management, along with consulting for various industries including public, defense, and healthcare sectors. Marisa loves to deliver simple solutions to complex problems while driving human-centered digital experiences.