Is customer experience strategy included in your marketing plan?
Yeah, sort of?
Nah, not yet?
Then, I’m scared for your business.
Because without a solid framework you can rely on, satisfying and retaining customers gets very messy, very quickly.
Worst case scenario?
You’re not solving customers’ problems. Your team is falling short of their expectations. And they leave for a competitor.
The good news is you can predict what customers want, at what point of their journey they’ll want it, and meet and exceed their expectations.
It requires some effort, but it pays off in the long run.
Read on this article to find out:
- What’s the definition of customer experience strategy?
- Best practices for developing CX strategy
- Strategies and examples of businesses implementing them
Not what you were looking for? Try these articles:
- The Best Customer Engagements Strategies
- How to Ensure Customer Success, and What’s in It for You?
- How to Build an Outstanding Customer Support Team?
What is a customer experience strategy?
A customer experience (CX) strategy is made up of actionable plans you implement to ensure your customers have positive experiences at each touchpoint with your business. It also includes purposeful ways to measure those experiences.
For example, your CX strategy can be to better align with your customers. So the actionable plan can be to focus on social listening. It can be as small as responding to customers’ messages and complaints or as big as changing your brand positioning.
OK, but do you really need a “strategy” for that?
After all, tweeting and posting on Instagram isn’t rocket science, right?
Well, I disagree—
Without a customer experience roadmap, you’ll waste many of your efforts to improve customer interactions with your business. A good CX strategy ensures the customer experience is cohesive at every interaction.
Essentially, digital customer experience strategy considers the entire customer journey, from marketing to sales and service. It defines everything that customers are exposed to: from product features, pricing, website design, and interfaces, to content and different types of customer service and support.
Here’s a great article about the customer experience definition and its role if you’d like to start with the basics.
The customer experience stats leave no room for doubt—the more positive customer experiences, the better your bottom line. Here’s just one of the examples of how customer experience affects your profitability:
As many as 45% of customers would stop buying from a company after a negative customer experience.
How do you go about it? And how do you know if what you’re doing is effective?
The answer is—
You develop a customer experience strategy and measure the result.
And here’s how.
Developing customer experience strategy: best practices
Delivering superior customer experience takes a bit of strategic thinking. Luckily, some simple rules will give your customer experience design a solid foundation.
Their goal is to ensure your business vision is transparent and relevant to all types of customers, meets their needs, and solves their problems.
1. Research the market to get to know your target customers
Finding out who your customers are, is CX strategy 101. Top companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, and SAS have recently strengthened their commitment to collecting and analyzing customer data even more so. They want to know:
- How customers interact with businesses
- Their buying habits
- Their lifestyle preferences, etc.
So why is customer analytics so important? To get insights about customers. Without them, you’ll never know what their pain points are and how to solve them.
Customers are now empowered and have access to information from multiple sources. The more accurate your predictions on how they behave, the better chance you attract them with relevant offers.
To me, it’s a pretty good indicator of what drives modern customer experience strategy.
2. Use AI technology to solve customers’ problems
Artificial intelligence isn’t just a buzzword. You can actually include AI in your customer experience strategy to automate little interactions that are part of the user experience. According to a 2020 MIT Technology Review, the leading application of AI in customer service is chatbots.
When used effectively, it streamlines processes, simplifies tasks, and improves customer support. And that’s exactly what customers expect—
Gartner’s survey on AI finds that customers want to use artificial intelligence to save time (58%), money (53%), and have easier access to information (47%). So when you decide to implement it, focus on how it solves users’ problems instead of just offering yet another technology.
Apply AI in customer service via chatbots
On average, chatbots can handle 68.9% of chats from start to finish
As a word of advice, though—
If you’d like to improve customer experience strategy with AI, don’t overuse the term in your sales and marketing communication. Just clearly explain how AI in your product helps overcome barriers.
Some customers may be skeptical about the use of AI and confused as to what it can mean. As many as 68% of respondents in Gartner’s survey were concerned about their privacy.
3. Get end-to-end perspective
Large businesses that offer many products, serve different customer segments or focus on different sales channels may need more than one CX strategy. Since delivering a seamless customer experience is more important than ever, you need to ensure all the initiatives are aligned across the organization.
Just think of all the customer touchpoints and departments responsible for them in creating a comprehensive customer experience program.
The key to success here is cross-functional collaboration on the shared data.
Gartner’s 2019 Customer Experience Management Study recommends establishing clear lines of ownership and authority for everyone involved in delivering customer experience. Regular catch-ups with CX leaders where they discuss common problems can help share information across the whole organization. It’s also a good chance to evaluate efforts.
4. Measure your efforts and further optimize
Speaking of customer experience management (CXM)—
Have you tried measuring the experience clients have with your company? And then use the findings to better your CX strategy?
But how do you measure the experience that is entirely subjective? What we’re dealing with are customers’ perceptions and feelings. So it’s near impossible, you may think.
Not at all—
You just need broad marketing measures.
According to the same Gartner’s study, shorter-term metrics such as awareness, inbound traffic, and conversion aren’t indicative enough. To evaluate customer experience strategy, it’s necessary to consider longer-term outcomes, such as:
- Improved customer loyalty
- Reduced customer churn
- Increased lifetime value
- Word-of-mouth advocacy
Measuring the outcomes of customer experience strategies has one more advantage—
It helps validate whether there’s been an improvement and justifies more investment. It also determines which tools and CX strategies bring value. And which ones you can get rid of.
What’s more, customer experience optimization gives you a whole new perspective on setting your business goals and KPIs. According to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study, customer-centric culture is one of the three top success factors for customer experience transformation.
Learn more about the customer-oriented approach to setting the company’s goals.
Customer experience strategies with examples from top brands
Now that we’ve analyzed general tips for creating a customer experience model let’s look at specific customer experience strategy examples. They come from well-known companies as well as small businesses.
1. Deliver great accessibility
According to a World Health Organization report, as many as 15% of the world’s population experiences some form of disability. The sooner you realize they are also consumers of your goods and services, the better. By including those affected, you not only make their life easier but also seize an opportunity.
If people can’t access your products or services, they will take their business elsewhere. By prioritizing accessibility as one of your CX strategies, your business can open up new possibilities, increase customer loyalty and improve your brand image in modern society.
Your customers can struggle with verbal or text-based communication or have physical disabilities. Some of the basic ways to empower and enable individuals with disabilities are:
- Captions for all videos
- Suficient color contrast
- Alt text for images
- Video chats to enable lip reading
- Self-service options and chatbots to avoid chatting with reps
- Compatibility with assistive technologies
Assistive technologies help millions of people worldwide to access the internet in different ways. Some people use their heads to control their devices via camera, while others use eyes via eye trackers or mouths via sip and puff devices.
2. Create a buyer persona to target the right customers
Personas are characters you make up to represent your ideal customer. They have the same characteristics, challenges, and motivations to help you understand your potential customers.
Personas give you a chance to look at your CX strategy from the outside. They guide you about what your customers are looking for throughout their journey. By developing them, you can bridge the gap between customer experience and expectation.
Here is an example of developing a persona for a Tourist Information Centre based on thorough research. As a result, the Tourist Centre started using more visual content and sharing local events. It also added social share buttons for Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest on its website.
In this case, the improved digital customer experience strategy helped build a stronger bond with the actual customers the persona represents.
3. Capture the voice of the customer
There’s no better or faster way to understand ever-changing customer needs and expectations than asking them directly. But make sure you collect customer feedback from multiple sources to get the whole picture. Some customers fill in satisfaction surveys, while others prefer to take their frustration out on social media.
Next, analyze the data and interpret the results. There are plenty of voice-of-the-customer techniques and tools that help you get feedback and reliable insights. You can then adjust your products and offer to provide a better experience for your clients.
Take Amazon, for example—
In 2018, it added a new dashboard called Voice of the Customer and introduced a new metric called Customer Experience Health. It’s to help Amazon sellers understand and improve their performance based on customer feedback. Sellers can identify product and listing issues and take appropriate actions to fix them.
4. Define customer experience vision
Spend some time to decide at a broad level what your customer experience vision is. Start with a set of statements about your company’s core values. Then, break it down into deliverables at different levels of your organization.
Don’t forget to clearly communicate the vision to your employees—from top management to juniors. It creates an organizational climate that supports and drives behavior set out in the company vision.
Disney’s customer experience strategy example is great to illustrate this—
Disney’s theme parks have created an extremely loyal customer base who are enchanted by the Happiest Place on Earth. It’s thanks to 130,000 Disney employees who are focused on providing a magical experience to every single visitor.
On the first day at work, every employee learns their job is to provide happiness. They later receive regular training and tools to be able to solve issues in the most magical way possible.
No wonder up to 70% of new customers return to experience the magic again.
5. Train and empower your frontline teams
Let service and support agents make use of their full potential. How? Create a healthy work environment and adequately train them on who your customers are, how they use your product, and how to solve their issues. Research evidence shows that with the right exercises, agents can improve understanding of customers’ needs.
Once everyone is on board with the company vision and knows what’s expected of them, let them take the initiative. Empower agents to find non-standard solutions that satisfy customers.
For example, every employee at the Ritz-Carlton can spend up to $2,000 per guest, per incident, to turn a bad experience into an amazing one. The amount seems like a lot financially, but it’s worth even more symbolically.
The hotel’s staff is trusted to do the right thing and resolve guests’ issues in creative and memorable ways.
6. Install a live chat and provide self-service options
No matter how well-thought your customer journey map may be, you can’t possibly factor in all possible variables. Or some glitches that need fixing are bound to happen. And customers are getting increasingly impatient to get support.
That’s why a great business CX strategy includes an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods (9 out of 10 consumers want it!). There are a couple of ways to deliver it:
- Install a web chat to answer customers’ queries in real-time
- Set up a chatbot to deal with routine questions
- Provide knowledge base as a self-help option
The results are best if you combine all three customer experience management solutions.
The founder of an e-learning platform, Mometrix, found it out for himself. He gradually tested the waters when he was developing a customer experience strategy for his business.
First, he installed a live chat to help customers solve technical issues and collect their feedback. Then, he noticed an increased customer satisfaction.
But adding chatbots turned out to be the real game-changer. After adding auto-replies and cart abandonment bot to specific URLs, the platform saw a 25% reduction in customers leaving at checkout and a significant increase in generated leads.
With Tidio live chat, you can automate collecting feedback after each customer experience.
7. Personalize the overall customer experience
Collecting and understanding customer data can help your business to personalize the experience for your eCommerce clients—offer them the right product or service, at the right time, in the right place. Businesses that realize customers access data on the go, leverage technology, e.g., apps, mobile versions of websites, to add to the user experience.
But businesses need to be able to connect with their customer base in person, too.
For example, part of Nordstrom’s customer experience strategy is to pay attention to shoppers in physical locations. The customer service team routinely asks customers about their visit to the store and their needs. Apart from that, they do use technology (loyalty cards, apps, email campaigns) to offer deals and advertisements specifically geared toward ensuring a better customer experience. This personalized approach is rooted in valuing each customer and taking the time to ensure one-of-a-kind interactions.
Here are the main points to remember after reading the article:
- A customer experience strategy can help your business meet and exceed customer expectations by providing actionable plans to improve customer experience and measure it.
- A consistent CX strategy can serve as a key differentiator for your business. It can help your company pull in new customers organically and ensure a healthy retention rate.
- The strategy should be seamless across all customer touchpoints, both digital and in-person.
- A great client experience depends on involving all the departments across your organization and especially service and support teams.
Customer experience strategy is a long-term project and so are its results. So don’t forget to fine-tune to your growing customer base or changing circumstances every now and then.