By now there should be no misconception that providing a good customer experience is a large part of ensuring brand success. No longer does a customer simply focus on price and a quality product — they want to have a memorable experience with the brands they choose to do business with, and this is more often than not the differentiating factor in whether they choose your brand or a competitor.
What is a customer experience strategy?
Many often confuse customer service with customer experience — they are two different concepts, although customer service is a large component of the customer experience. A customer experience strategy is a marketing strategy carefully constructed and designed to ensure that every interaction a customer has with a brand is focused on providing the customer with a positive and memorable experience.
Creating a CX strategy is not an easy or quick task. While some strategies, such as providing good customer services, might already be well-implemented, there are other action plans that will take time to develop and integrate in all points along the buyer journey. This process is the customer experience design, and it can be a lengthy process. Additionally, like many digital marketing strategies, the customer experience design also involves continued analysis to better optimize the customer experiences and ensure a properly aligned and consistent brand story throughout the complete buyer journey.
It’s important to focus on CX design because it is essentially the bridge between a customer and your brand. If at any point in the buyer journey the bridge is difficult to cross, the buyer will abandon the journey and seek out a competitor instead.
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Guidelines for creating your CX strategy
You can’t provide a good customer experience if you don’t truly understand your customer. This is the first step to any customer-centric marketing and should never be overlooked or simply glossed over.
Understand your customer
Over 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service if they have a great customer experience — essentially, they are paying more for the total experience, rather than just the product. Consumers are also more apt to choose a brand that delivers excellent CX as opposed to a brand whose CX game is lacking. To that end, understanding the customer, their wants and needs, their pain points, and how they perceive your brand, is by far the first and most important step.
You’ll need to collect amply data on your customers, of course. This can be done via surveys, but reading reviews and interacting with your target audience on social media is also effective and can often give you much more insight into the minds of the consumer.
Once you have enough data you can create the buyer persona — a detailed personality of the ideal consumer that would be interested in your products or services. With a strong buyer persona you can better put yourself into the mind of the consumer and begin to better understand what type of experience might resonate with them, subsequently enabling you to enhance your CX marketing to deliver just such an experience.
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There are many points along the buyer journey, and it can become too easy to get lost in trying to bring specific elements of your customer experience design to each one. It’s understandable that you may want to be especially diverse in order to provide a more enriching experience, but not every touchpoint needs to be overly difficult. Just stay focused on the main goal — the customer, and you’ll be better able to develop your strategy with ease. Consider how the buyer will move from one point to the next, and what strategy you can use to ensure they want to keep moving from one point to the next. Use the information you have and what you’ve learned about your customers to develop your buyer journey roadmap, and do what makes sense for your target audience and their expectations.
Listen to your customer
Sometimes the buyer persona won’t tell you everything, but your customers certainly will, in the form of both negative and positive feedback. Positive reviews are great, but sometimes a little negative feedback can be great too. For example, a customer might complain about slow shipping times, poor customer service, or a lack of information about a product on your website. This is the ideal opportunity to learn where your CX is lacking and take steps to make an improvement.
While you may not always be able to implement some organizational changes right away, you can at least alert the customer that you are working on solving a problem in order to provide better services in the future. This assures the customer that you are addressing their concerns and that you value their business.
Make things easier
The customer shouldn’t have to work hard to find information, make a purchase, or speak to a customer service representative. Making things easy for the customer and presenting information in a clear, concise, and engaging manner at every step along the buyer journey is also an important component of providing excellent CX.
Consumers can grow easily frustrated if they can’t find what they are looking for. Likewise, a long, confusing checkout process, customer service agents that can’t properly address and solve a problem to the customer’s satisfaction, or a website that seems poorly put together and lacking in information will also create a negative experience for the consumer.
As more than 50% of consumers state that a single bad experience will make them want to go to another brand, it is vitally important that brands begin to focus more on a customer-centric marketing strategy, and that means addressing customer needs at all steps.
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Improve customer support
Customer support is often a key component and differentiating factor for consumers. One bad experience with customer support and not only is it likely that you’ll be saying goodbye to that customer, but you could also potentially lose more customers when that one individual shares their experience with others.
On the other hand, a customer that is satisfied with their customer support experience is also more likely to tell others, in turn serving to drive more potential customers towards your brand as well as increasing brand loyalty.
Overall, great customer service goes a long way in showing consumers that they are valued, which also improves their customer experience and instills brand loyalty.
Your customer service team should be properly trained to address a customer’s issues in a professional, friendly manner that doesn’t sound like a robot reading from a script. While you may not always be able to solve every customer’s problem to their complete satisfaction, at the very least, showing that you do care and are willing to try can improve customer retention and possibly salvage the customer experience.
Use the technology at your disposal
Today’s advanced technology allows for brands to truly provide an amazing customer experience that can set them apart from competitors in spectacular ways. From interactive sales tools to AR and VR, high-quality video, 3D images and experience, and advanced product configurations that offer more features and benefits, there simply is no reason not to take advantage of digital transformation tools. Consider the following and try to see how you can fit them into your own customer experience design.
3D Visualization: Ideal for marketing products in an engaging manner with high-quality visuals and professional video animation. CGI is cost-effective and can often do a much better job at presenting the features and benefits of a product than simply text content and instruction.
Product Configuration Solutions: Present your customers with customized products in an interactive manner. It’s an easy-to-use marketing tool that serves to attract and retain customers.
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AR and VR: Virtual reality films and Web AR provide a fully immersive experience for your customers, one that is bound to not only be memorable but also more advanced than any of your competitors. In an age where the consumer market has exceedingly high expectations, this advanced visual communication makes a powerful statement.
Many brands are already retaining the services of experienced CGI agencies for the above CX solutions. Experienced professionals can deliver world-class 3D visualization services and also help you get your products to market on time, meeting consumer demand and subsequently greatly improving the customer experience.
Give your customers the freedom to choose
Flexibility is another important component of good customer experience design. This includes everything from a choice of payment options and pricing plans to suit a customer’s budget to omnichannel support which enables a customer to communicate with your brand through a variety of channels. Flexibility also extends to how a customer views your content — nearly 80% of consumers use mobile more than anything else to research brands, so having a mobile-centric site is definitely a requirement in today’s competitive marketplace.
This applies to customer service as well. Flexibility in how a customer can contact your customer support team cuts down on frustration and provides the customer with an experience tailored by their own choosing. Many brands offer at least two options: phone or email. Chat and messaging is also an option that can be incorporated into your customer service communication options, and advanced AI chatbots are a growing customer service trend that many consumers have expressed satisfaction with.
Make it seamless
As mentioned earlier, keeping your brand story consistent throughout the buyer journey is an important aspect of good CX design. Should at any point along the buyer journey your story change or should elements at one point be vastly different from the next, the buyer will be confused, and you risk losing them.
Just because you might think a particular element of your CX design is going to be received well doesn’t mean the customer will actually be receptive. Try to imagine yourself as the customer and picture what you would like to see at each point. By viewing things from the customer’s perspective, you can more easily realize what belongs in your CX design and what doesn’t. This will enable you to create a smooth flow from one point to the next — experienced CX leaders can develop a CX design that doesn’t even feel as though there are points, but rather it acts as one smooth ride for buyer.
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Make it personal
Consumers don’t just want a memorable experience — they also want an experience that feels personal, as though your brand was a best friend that the customer had known for a long time. Whether you make recommendations based on previous purchase histories or you send personalized messages via email marketing, the customer appreciates that personal touch and feels more valued. The personal touch also further strengthens that bond of trust between your brand and the consumer, and eliminates the image of your brand as a faceless entity, instead instilling itself in the minds of the consumer as a familiar, welcoming place to shop.
Make CX part of the company culture
Providing a good customer experience isn’t something that should just fall on the heads of marketing and the customer service team. A wholly customer-centric approach involves getting all personal on the same wavelength and striving to please the customer, even if there is no actual contact with the customer.
Management, sales, IT support, etc. — all departments in an organization have their own role to play, and many of them have no direct contact with customers, ever. But that doesn’t mean they can’t think about how your organization can provide better service and make suggestions. After all, they are customers somewhere too, and if you include them as part of your mission to provide excellent customer service at all levels, they’ll be equally committed to helping you fulfill those goals.
On a side note, remember to value your employees as well. It only takes one disgruntled employee to spread some bad words about your brand, and if too many customers don’t care for how you treat the members of your organization, they may be less inclined to purchase products from you. Customer service, employee retention, and a positive workplace often go hand-in-hand.
Measure your results
Throughout the year you’ll want to perform an audit of your CX design. Customer wants, needs, and expectations can change quickly according to world factors, and you’ll need to have your finger on the pulse in order to quickly adjust your CX design to prepare for and meet those new challenges. Engage in everything from continually monitoring customer feedback to measuring KPIs relative to your industry so that you effectively examine the customer’s perception of your brand at each checkpoint along the buyer journey.
Consider the above customer experience best practices a detailed roadmap for developing and maintaining your customer experience design. Each guideline is to be explored and realized to its fullest in order to optimize your CX marketing strategy. Ideally, you’ll succeed in creating a CX design that is customer-centric and ultimately easy to execute, while at the same time continuing to reach for further innovation and ways to better enhance the customer experience.
Never settle and become complacent with your customer experience strategy. While some best practices will always remain rather stable, such as collecting and reviewing customer feedback, other parts of the CX design, such as digital transformation, will need revisiting so that you can continue to provide more enjoyable experiences and push the envelope in the presentation of your products. Push the envelope and you’ll push your brand far past others in the industry.
Overall, the key is to never stop seeking to provide for the customer, and to always strive to meet and exceed their expectations.