As the digital revolution continues to transform the world, customers are expecting more online. While our expectations are higher, customer loyalty is decreasing, which can put businesses under pressure; yet, it’s a huge opportunity if your business can get it right.
Considering the research that poor Customer Experience (CX) in Australia is costing businesses $122B a year, building a great CX can give you a significant competitive advantage. CX is no longer a ‘fluffy’ marketing buzzword. It’s now a ‘must-have’ core business strategy. But what exactly is CX? And what are the best tactics that will help you improve CX in 2019? Read on…
What is CX?
The term ‘Customer Experience’ refers to the interaction between a customer and a company. This interaction begins at the moment the customer hears about your business or finds it online, continues with their decision to make a purchase, and even extends to them writing a review online.
Simply put, CX is all about the impression you create for your customers and how you interact with them. If you ignore their emails and negative reviews or fail to respond to complaints, it will affect your CX. In the past, whenever we had a bad experience dealing with a company, we’d tell our friends and family. These days with social media, we tell our friends, family, and the world online. Bad news travels fast! That’s why companies that have excellent CX stand out from their competition. Customers that have had positive experiences with your company are more likely to become loyal customers and advocates who gladly recommend your products and services.
Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience
Customer service is just one aspect of Customer Experience which is based on person-to-person interaction. For instance, if you’re making an inquiry about a certain product before you decide to buy it, and the employee you’re talking to is helpful and patient, that’s great customer service. But if the same company makes an effort to deliver the product to your home timely and free of charge, removing all the hassles from the transaction, then that is an example of great CX.
Today, technology allows businesses to easily connect with customers through a variety of channels. By analyzing your customer’s purchasing history and habits online, companies can learn and understand customers’ tastes and preferences in order to provide a CX that meets (and even exceeds) their expectations. If you can provide your service faster, more conveniently and efficiently, all with a smile, you’ll create a great CX. Your website is a great place to achieve some or all of these goals, depending on your business model.
Customer Experience in Australia
Even though companies understand how important it is to keep their customers happy, many are failing to deliver a great CX. According to research conducted by KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre for Australia, businesses have been focusing on “improving really bad experiences”, but neglecting okay experiences.
Consumers’ expectations are now higher than ever so ‘okay’ probably isn’t good enough. People expect every interaction with your company to be an outstanding experience. KPMG’s research concluded that consumers in Australia find integrity and personalisation to be the most important components of a good CX. They also believe Australian brands show a lack of understanding and empathy for their customers.
Having all this in mind, we have defined six tactics you can use to create an effective CX strategy for your business.
6 Ways to Improve Your Company’s CX
#1 Know Who Your Customers Are
In order to be able to provide a great Customer Experience, you need to know and understand your customers. Not knowing what makes your customers tick means your CX will be hit and miss.
Knowing your customers in detail means having a clear picture of who they are (age, income, needs, expectations, beliefs, etc.). It’s about understanding and defining your ideal customer so you can build a system to attract and support more of them. Your ideal customer should be articulated both in the minds of your team and in your CX strategy. One of the most effective tools that can help you get a clear picture of your customers is creating personas or avatars based on your research. Clearly defined customer personas can be used to make subtle changes to CX in various areas of your company including products, store design, product delivery, communication etc.
Bottom line is, once you know your customers and their expectations, it’s much easier to focus company resources and efforts in order to better serve them.
#2 Create an Emotional Connection
“Companies too often shy away from focusing on the emotional dimension of CX because emotions seem abstract, intangible and irrational. What they don’t realise is that emotions are actually quite predictable, they just follow a different set of rules than rational thought” – Megan Burns – Forrester.
Making an emotional connection is the best way to create a good Customer Experience. Customers often make a connection between a certain brand and the feeling they have when using its products or services. In other words, emotional connection leads to loyal customers.
According to the HBR study “The New Science of Customer Emotions“, customers that are emotionally engaged are three times more likely to re-use your business and recommend you to others.
The key to providing a great CX is making it about people. Put humans first! Instead of focusing on your product and its features, put the emphasis back on the people you serve. Use content in your website that connects on an emotional level. Highlight your customers’ concerns and pains; then, let them know how your product or service will make them feel by solving their problems.
#3 Act Upon Customer Feedback
To be able to tell if you’re delivering exceptional Customer Experience, you’ll need to ask your customer for feedback. Nearly 50% of the companies evaluated as ‘Mature’ by Forrester’s Customer Experience Management Maturity Model, stated that the feedback received from customers is used as a base for planning their Customer Experience strategy. This shows many companies neglect customer feedback and base their CX decisions on HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion), gut feeling, and industry best practices.
How do you capture customer feedback? By simply asking, preferably in real time. This is easily done by using automated systems like asking for a review via a follow-up email, outbound calls, as well as watching social media and responding appropriately to positive and negative feedback. Remember, people are watching, so it’s not the time to vent your frustrations.
#4 Invest in a Great Team
Your customer support team is the front line between the company and its clients. Large companies typically evaluate their email and phone communication quality, to understand what is working well and what could be improved. They need to invest in structured training for each member of the customer support team through group training, eLearning, coaching, etc. Smaller, more hands-on teams, will have the ability to learn and improve systems in real-time, simply by listening to customers, sharing the knowledge, and continually refine and improve their approach.
Collecting employee feedback can also be helpful, provided it is done regularly. We live in a ‘real-time’ culture so feedback should be continuous, as it happens. Many companies conduct annual surveys to find out how engaged their employees are, how they feel about the business, and whether they’re able to provide outstanding service. However, the eleven-month period between these surveys is neglected, which makes the results unrealistic. Regular feedback can be collected through tools that enable your team to share suggestions on how to improve CX, like social media or software solutions.
#5 Create Brand Experience
Customers can experience your brand in a number of ways that evoke feelings, behaviours, and thoughts. Creating experiences specific to your brand is an excellent way to improve CX.
Align your brand with positive and memorable experiences and your prospects will be reminded of that every time they hear or see your brand. You don’t need a large budget in order to create a great brand experience. Own the space you are in! Make your brand unique so it’s difficult to replicate by your competitors.
#6 Provide a CX Across All Platforms
Providing a great CX that is consistent throughout your entire business is the goal. Thanks to the Internet, people have fast access to information. They can research your business online very quickly so, if it’s not consistent, it will send the wrong message. Most of us carry around our research tools in our pockets or handbags – the mobile phone. The number of people using mobiles to conduct online searches is rising rapidly. In fact, it is expected that mobile searches will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2020 on a global level.
How your business appears on a mobile is important, but so is every other representation of your brand. A study conducted by the Aberdeen Group in the US showed that companies who engage through multiple channels retain almost 90% of their customers. In all these channels, customers expect consistency in communication, which represents a real challenge for fast-growing companies in an ever-changing world.
The 2018 Digital Report for Australia showed the following:
- Australia has one of the highest mobile penetrations in the world, at the 78% mark. In addition, the country has the fastest growing social usage on mobile at 7% year-over-year.
- 73% of Aussies searched online for products and services, and almost 60% actually made a purchase online. More than a quarter of these purchases was made on a mobile device.
With this in mind, it is safe to say that poor mobile experience for your website can do serious damage to your business. Even though most companies do understand the importance of mobiles and strive to invest in it, a surprisingly large percentage of them fail to adapt to it successfully, with 90% of consumers stating their experience with seeking customer help on mobile was poor.
CX requires constant care and continuous improvement. The above-mentioned strategies give a good starting point for the development of a solid Customer Experience strategy that will have a positive impact on customer loyalty, customer retention, and business growth. If you’d like us to review your website from a CX standpoint, please contact us today!