Customer experience, or CX, is one of those phrases that’s been tossed around a lot in recent years.
It’s not just another industry buzzword. Done right, customer experience will help you increase sales and improve brand loyalty.
We’ll break it down for you in this post. You’ll learn what customer experience is and why it’s important. Plus, seven tips to get you started, four tools to make your life easier, and how to measure it.
And yes, that last one does involve some math but don’t be scared. We promise you don’t need to know what an Isosceles triangle is. Feel free to delete that information from your brain.
Bonus: Get our free, fully customizable Customer Experience Strategy Template that will help you understand your customers and reach your business goals.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is your customers’ perception of their interaction with your company. It’s the accumulation of their feelings after every touchpoint they have with your brand. Two pillars will essentially shape a customer’s experience:
- Your brand
- Your product or service
Firstly, how they view and interact with your brand will shape their perception. Branding efforts — especially how you look and sound — are essential for customer experience. You don’t want to seem messy or unprofessional. If you do, a customer will assume you ARE messy and unprofessional. It ain’t fair, but looks are everything.
Take Nike for example. The Nike swoosh and the Just Do It tagline are iconic in both sports and fashion. This is the result of careful, consistent branding over decades.
Secondly, you can have the most polished brand in the world. But if your customers’ experience with your product or service is trash, they won’t be rating you well.
Your customer service plays a role in how folks feel about your products or services, too. You can often save a relationship if something goes wrong. Acknowledge the person’s complaint. Then, make moves to rectify the situation.
Every touchpoint is the chance for a positive, neutral, or negative outcome. Working on making those touchpoints positive will improve your customer experience.
Both pillars work toward building trust and creating a positive customer experience.
What is customer experience management?
Customer experience management (CXM) ensures that your customers have a positive experience with your business at every touchpoint. It can be a bit of a nebulous term, so let’s dive into it further.
Customer experience management involves surveying, analyzing, and improving customer interactions with your brand. CXM is encompassing. The spectrum covers how your team treats customers, to how fast they’re acknowledged, to the design of your website.
Why is customer experience important?
In today’s competitive landscape, customer experience is more important than ever. Satisfied customers are more likely to return in the future and recommend your business to others.
And, social proof sells. People are more likely to trust their friend’s and family’s recommendations over branded advertising. One popular form of this social proof is user-generated content (UGC).
Happy customers also tend to spend more money with your business over time. If they become lifetime customers, their value to your business skyrockets. So, you want to turn as many customers as you can into lifelong ones.
You can calculate what your customer’s lifetime value (CLV) is. This will show you how much budget you should allocate to getting them there. And of course, part of that is improving their customer experience.
The formula to calculate your CLV is this: CLV = (Annual revenue per customer * Customer relationship in years) – customer acquisition cost (CAC).
Customer experience management can be a powerful tool for driving growth and long-term success.
How to measure customer experience
Part of your customer experience strategy should be to measure customer experience. But how can you measure someone’s feelings, you ask? With cold, hard numbers.
We go into detail on customer service metrics here. But to save you some time, we’ve highlighted notable ones below.
Commonly used metrics for customer experience include:
- Net Promoter Score,
- Customer Effort Score,
- Customer Satisfaction Score and,
- Average response time.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS = Percentage of promoters — Percentage of detractors
Your Net Promoter Score involves a 0-10 scale on how much customers like and trust you. It comes from one simple question, “on a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?”. If they fall under 6, they’re detractors. 7-8 makes them passive, and 9-10 makes them promoters.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
CES = (Number of customers who select 4-5 / number of survey responses) * 100
CES measures how much effort a customer puts into a task with your organization. These surveys highlight areas pain points in the customer journey.
CES surveys ask customers to rate their level of effort on a scale of 1-5. You might ask your customers something like, “It was easy for me to return my product. Scale: “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
CSAT = (Number of satisfied customers / number of survey responses) * 100
The CSAT is similar to the NPS. It asks a few more questions which are customizable to your organization. All questions should have to do with the customers’ experience.
For example, you could ask your customers to rate a specific part of your brand from 1-3 or 1-5. You could say, “How satisfied were you with the support you received?”
You can also include open-ended questions in your CSAT survey, like “How can we better improve your experience?”
Average response time
Average response time = Total time taken for first response to customer queries / Number of queries
Your average response time is vital to know as people like being acknowledged. It makes them feel heard and respected, even when it’s a bot. And companies are using bots to increase response time and improve customer satisfaction.
7 tips to improve customer experience
So, you may feel pressure to provide an outstanding customer experience. Here are seven tips to make your life a little easier.
Invest in your brand
First impressions are important. Your customers will notice if you invest in your brand. Ensure you have a cohesive visual expression, brand identity, and communication strategy.
It’s a bit like wearing a suit and tie to a job interview vs a pair of old sweatpants. By looking and sounding a certain way, you subconsciously influence folks into believing you are the way you look.
Zappo’s, for example, is on point with their brand voice. As a result, they come off as cheeky and fun — like someone you’d want to stand next to at a party.
the monday motivation we all need ⬇️ https://t.co/CHOmdvrRrv
— Zappos.com (@Zappos) May 16, 2022
Invest in customer service
If someone has a bad experience with your customer service team, it’s unlikely they’ll be loyal to your brand.
On the other hand, if someone has a bad experience with your products or services but is met with an exceptional customer service experience, there’s a chance you can turn them into a repeat customer.
The value of your customer service experience stretches beyond sales. A great customer service experience can:
- recover customer acquisition costs,
- nurture loyal brand enthusiasts who refer their friends and
- cultivate testimonials and reviews.
Don’t forget to build your social media customer service strategy, too.
Make a customer journey map
A customer journey map will make it easier for you to put yourself in their shoes. Understanding their journey shines a light on potential pain points. Make it easy for your customers to complete necessary tasks, like searching, checking out, or returning, and they’ll keep coming back. Make those menial tasks fun, and they’ll love you for it.
Create buyer personas
Like customer journeys, buyer personas help you understand who your customers are and what they want. With customer journeys, you can see each touchpoint your customer has. With customer personas, you can better understand how to make those touchpoints more enjoyable.
IYKYK – https://t.co/sdFq5MaO1F
— Zappos.com (@Zappos) June 2, 2022
For example, if your customer persona is an older demographic, you can focus on making each touchpoint more accessible. Consider folks who may have a hard time with small font or CTA buttons.
Understand your customer churn
A bit of customer churn is normal. Understanding the reason behind your churn can help improve your customer experience. Look for the points where customers consistently bounce off and analyze why that may be.
Asking for and acting on feedback is an easy way to understand customer churn. You could try a CES survey to gather results. Alternatively, analyze customer support ticket trends. If you’re in the software industry, this is particularly useful to understand where your product falls short.
Ask customers what they want
A common mistake business owners make is to assume they know what their customers want. Ask your audience for product or feature requests; the responses may surprise you. If there’s one way to win hearts, it’s first to listen, then to create something people request.
You can do this through surveys or by having an open comment section on your contact us page that asks, “What would you like to see more of?”. Check forums like Reddit and pay close attention to reviews elsewhere. These are a free look into your customers’ perspectives.
Use chatbots and AI to improve response times
Using chatbots or AI-driven tech is a quick, cost-effective, and relatively painless way to create a positive customer experience. Use bots to:
- help guide your customers through the sales journey,
- for FAQ answers, and
- general customer support requests.
When you choose the right program, you’ll be able to help your customers get to where they need to go — faster.
- improve your average response time,
- Redirect your human employees to more complex tasks, and
- offer 24/7 support to your customers.
Want to know more on this topic? Here’s how to create your own customer experience strategy from scratch.
Four customer experience tools to try in 2023
To nail your customer experience strategy, consider integrating tools into your repertoire. Customer experience survey software, chatbots, and analytics tools can help you automate, analyze, and address tasks that actively work toward your goals.
This little chatbot that could, Heyday, is an easy win for your customer experience strategy. It works to personalize your site’s customer experience by:
- connecting to your product catalog to deliver tailored search results and recommendations in-chat
- looping in your associates only when customers are ready to buy
- using conversational AI to make your customers feel comfortable
- improving your average response time
The Hootsuite inbox and analytics
Obviously, we’re a little biased. But we wouldn’t recommend something that isn’t worth your time. Hootsuite’s inbox is set up so you can view, respond to, or filter messages from different social networks (and even SMS messages). And, all in a single view. It makes your life easier and can help to improve your response time.
The Hootsuite analytics tool is especially useful in understanding where customer sentiments lie. It can show you immediately what types of social media posts are working so you know where your customers want you to focus your efforts in the future.
On a similar note, you can use Hootsuite Insights for social listening and analytics. This tool can track your earned social mentions. Then, you can measure the social sentiment of your brand. From there, improve customer experience accordingly.
Most importantly, you can use Hootsuite’s brand monitoring tools to immediately know when angry customers are venting about you on social media — and respond to them immediately before it gets out of hand.
Google Analytics is an excellent tool for understanding where your customer churn happens. Use it to track user search queries — this will show you consistent asks from your audience.
Keep an eye on your conversion rates. If they’re below the industry average, you may have a pain point that needs attention. On a similar note, pay attention to your bounce rates. These will also show potential pain points.
AskNicely is a survey software program. It integrates across work apps like Zapier and Slack. You can use this program to better understand what your customer experience looks like. Try customizing surveys for your NPS, CES, and CSAT. Plus, it lets you include follow-up questions, if need be.
What we love particularly about AskNicely is the added coaching abilities for staff. AskNicely’s coach can provide personalized coaching in customer experience for your team.
Grow your online and in-store sales with a conversational AI retail chatbot by Heyday by Hootsuite. Retail bots improve your customer’s shopping experience, while allowing your service team to focus on higher-value interactions.