How to improve your customer experience

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The 8 “dos and don’ts” of how to improve customer experience by embracing change as a constant.

Customer experience (CX) is a ‘hot topic’ – and rightly so. I’m a big believer that everything starts and finishes with the customer, because without them businesses can’t achieve their full potential. And the results of being CX focussed are compelling: CX has overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator, and companies that invest in CX initiatives can double their revenue within 36 months.

To ingrain CX as a core part of your operations, you need a CX strategy. But this can feel overwhelming – particularly for organisations that perhaps have never mapped out their customer journeys before. So what’s the first step to making CX feel more attainable?

Start somewhere and build out

Get into the mind of your actual customer. Pick out a simple customer journey and start to map out the touchpoints at a high level. Make no assumptions. Walk through the experience and overlay the intended experience, then close the gaps through continuous improvement as appropriate.

For example, to contact you through your website and ask a question. Let’s imagine the current journey is for them to navigate to the ‘contact page’, complete a form that asks for their name, email, and message, this form is then received by someone in your sales or service team to follow up.

Think.. What was that experience like for the customer?

  • Frustrating because they couldn’t find the right information on your website?
  • Easy because the navigation was familiar and the form short and to the point?
  • Great that the form was accessible from their mobile when they were on the go?
  • Annoying that they now need to wait for a response?

And how confident are you that the enquiry was followed up? 

The only way to know for sure is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and walk the journey. It’s only when you know a journey is broken, or know how it can be improved, that you can start to build a business case to fix it.

The answers lie in your data 

Rather than invent a new way to ‘wow’ customers and entice them in, I always push my teams to start with ‘brilliant basics’ – because if you can’t get these right, you’re unlikely to be afforded the opportunity to show your customer much else.

Invariably this starts with your data. 

For example, use analytics to see where the highest bounce rates are on your website. Then perform a deep-dive on those pages to understand why people aren’t converting – it could be something as simple as a broken link. It’s only once the journey is laid bare that you can start to tweak, test and refine over time and enable your business to thrive. Gartner agrees. Its research shows that growth companies actively collect CX data.

But, CX isn’t just for acquiring new customers, it’s equally important for retaining existing ones. Data can be used to inform the entire CX strategy – from the pre-sales experience where customers are searching for help and reading reviews, through to the sales funnel conversion, and post-sale experience.

Use analytics to look at CX from both ends – just because your existing customers aren’t complaining, doesn’t mean they’re happy. Pick on journeys that are perhaps less common. For existing customers, this could be content in your help section. Walk that journey and poke your nose in:

  • Does the content fully address the problem?
  • Is the content clear to understand for both technical and non-technical users?
  • Does the content end with a clear call-to-action if you need more help?

FAQs are likely to receive the least amount of attention because they are pages that are visited less often. But consider why your customer is there in the first place – they have a problem. Therefore, if those pages aren’t optimised, it leads to a poor experience, which is likely to result in customer attrition.

Customer Experience Concept, Happy Businessman holding Card with Smiley Face and Five Star Rating for his Satisfaction

The dos and don’ts of CX improvement

Don’t wait for perfection: to quote Simon Sinek, “Don’t wait for perfection before you start. Start somewhere so you can have something tangible you can work to perfect.” Get off the block with intent, start and iterate along the way.  

Do strive for excellence: focus on delivering the minimum viable to the best of your ability. This affords you the opportunity to test, tweak and refine. If you fail, you fail quickly. If you succeed, you build on your success. 

Don’t react to every piece of feedback: make sure your reactions are considered and backed with quantitative/qualitative insight. Otherwise, you can react to make changes that will distract from the efforts that really make a difference.

Analyse your data: don’t just collect the data and forget about it. Decide on the data that gives you the richest insight into pain points with each CX journey. Give ownership to analysing the insight to help drive the CX initiatives.

Don’t jump into initiatives that require cross-functional expertise: ensure you have a governance process in place to assess the benefits, establish prioritisation, and understand the impact to cross functional teams. This should avoid silo working and ensure all teams understand why the CX changes are important, and where they fit in.

Do fix hygiene factors immediately: ‘brilliant basics’ are the core steps within any experience that customers expect to be seamless. When broken, they should be fixed as a priority before moving on to the next new and shiny feature.

Don’t accept that you know or understand the journey: make time to walk the actual journey, find the issue and feel the impact to bring clarity to where processes are broken or more cumbersome than they needed to be, so you make the right changes.

Do focus on the most relevant moments of truth: identify where the expected experience didn’t match the reality. Then keep checking, refining and ensuring the good bits stay consistent, and the bits that have eroded are maintained and improved. 

Improve your CX with S&S

Your customers are bombarded with thoughts, feelings and messages from their personal and professional lives every day. It all affects the way they view the world, their needs and desires, and ultimately impacts the experience they have – or expect to have.

CX is a journey, not a destination. Crafting a great experience cannot be a point in time activity because your customers are always changing. To keep pace and stand a chance of doubling your revenue over the next three years, you need to embrace change as a constant. 

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