Have you ever felt great about doing business with a certain company? You’re sure to support them again if the need arises. What’s more, you’ll be happy to help people you know by telling them where they can get a fantastic customer experience. It’s that moment when you tell a friend “You should try X Company, they’ll take good care of you.”
A great customer experience is not something that happens thanks to some happy accident: the company you felt so good about strategised to deliver that feel-good moment. Are you ready to do the same for your business? We examine customer experience strategy best practices and how you can create a customer experience strategy for your business.
Elements of a Customer Experience Strategy
Customer experience is the sum total of every touchpoint and every interaction with your company. For example, just seeing your advertising is already part of the experience. Everything that happens after that, all the way to the time when customers dispose of a product or cancel a service adds to the overall picture.
At every step along the way, customers have expectations. Just meeting them doesn’t necessarily mean you offer a memorable customer experience. You want to offer something that’s even better than they expected. So, what are customers looking for? Apply these principles to your customer experience strategy.
- Customers want to work with businesses they can rely on.
- When they need something, they want someone to be available to help.
- They want you to make things easy for them.
- Your clients want to be recognised as individuals.
- They want you to adapt to their needs.
- They’re impressed when you can anticipate their needs.
- Whether their feedback is positive or negative, they want you to respond.
- They want you to be honest and truthful.
- They don’t expect it, but if you go the extra mile, they’re pleasantly surprised.
- Professionalism matters every step of the way.
These are just broad principles, however. To turn them into a strategy, you must apply them to everything from advertising to customer service, fulfilment, and the full product lifecycle. Made a sale? Delivered the goods? You’re only part of the way through providing a positive customer experience.
How to Create a Customer Experience Strategy: Step by Step
1. Involve Every Department
Insider perspectives across every function in your company will prove valuable. You’re going to need the support of all your people to formulate and implement your customer experience strategy. To help you, your people need to know what your goals are and why they’re so important to the business.
So why have a customer experience strategy? The simple answer is that no business can exist without its clients. People who have bad experiences will take their business elsewhere. People who have neutral experiences can be converted by competitors. Those who have great experiences are far more likely to remain loyal, recommend you, and buy from you again.
2. Work to Understand Your Customers
Customer experience is a “feeling”, and you can’t understand people’s feelings unless you understand your customers. Who they are, what they want, and why they buy your products may be less obvious than it seems on the surface.
For example, a person who buys branded clothing is buying more than just something to wear – they’re “buying” the brand persona and everything it means to them and the people around them. These associations don’t just apply to products – they apply to everything the businesses that own and sell the branded products do.
To help them understand their customers, many businesses craft customer personas representing the type of people who buy their products. These are fictitious people that are representative of one or more of your target markets. Besides looking at demographics, strive to get “under their skins”. What are their needs, hopes, fears, and ambitions? What prompts them to buy or makes them hesitate? The more well-rounded and believable your customer personas are, the easier it is to adopt a strategic approach to customer experiences.
3. Know What Customers are Saying
These days, people are more than happy to talk about their experiences as customers – and they won’t necessarily talk to you directly and without prompting. There could be chatter on social media, for example, or a customer might not bother to complain about something they found slightly jarring but will remember. The two things you need to do are to ask questions and listen to customer comments – even when you didn’t ask for them.
By doing so, you might spot trends – specific things that customers would like to see done better. These things might not be deal-breakers, but unless you address them, you won’t be able to deliver a customer experience that they’re absolutely thrilled with.
4. Help your Employees to Help Your Customers
To address your customers’ desire for a great experience, your staff will need your support. Whether it’s keeping them informed and giving them feedback on their performance, empowering them to make certain decisions on the fly, or changing how you do certain things, you can never leave employees out of the loop. And it works both ways. Although an employee raising a stumbling block that’s affecting customer experience gives you work to do, you should certainly encourage them to do so.
5. Keep Refining Customer Experience at Every Stage of Their Journey
Every business, no matter how large or small, offers its customers a “journey.” It follows the sales funnel, beginning when customers become aware of your business. The next step is interest – the phase when they find out more about what you offer. And, if they like what they see, they’ll make the purchase. If they’re happy with the purchase and continue to be that way until they need something similar again, you may have achieved brand loyalty.
Using your customer personas as examples, and the elements that make up a positive experience as guidance, consider what it would be like for them to move through the sales funnel. What are you doing well? Where are your weak points? What can you do to enhance each step of the journey? Every improvement you make will contribute to a better customer experience. And, as with all strategies, you will need to monitor results, make changes as needed, and keep working at it.
Customer Experience Strategy Examples
With each business and its customers being different, finding a single generic customer experience strategy example isn’t really possible. But we can look at some broad questions and principles that apply to different stages of the customer journey.
How do customers find out about your business? For example, if you use social media advertising, are you targeting the right interest groups? Are your marketing messages crafted to interest them and win their trust? Have you made it easy for them to move on to the next step? For a great discovery experience, elements such as these will make a difference.
Interest and Engagement
Now that prospective customers are taking a closer look, what will they see and what will their experience be? Let’s suppose you’re taking them to a landing page. Does it provide clear information that intensifies their interest?
Think about what else they might like to know after taking the first discovery steps, and whether they can find answers easily. For example, if you offer a range of products, you could provide a user-friendly navigation menu that helps them access and compare various options.
But having great self-service features isn’t enough. Consider what will happen if customers want help from the digital version of the friendly and well-informed shop assistant. A chatbot might cope with some basic questions, but bots have limitations. Will it be easy for them to talk to somebody knowledgeable without having to move to another platform?
Before deciding to make a purchase, your customers will consider everything they’ve experienced so far – but they’ll also compare the products you’re offering to those of your competitors. They’ll ask themselves a few questions starting with “Does this solve my problem or satisfy my wants?”
The way you present and price products will be important, but the basic features they offer will also come under the magnifying glass. Knowing how your products, their pricing and presentation, and your customer service contribute to a decision to buy (or not buy) is extremely valuable information. Examine customer behaviour, and any interactions – whether with your website or your service agents – for cues and clues. Then see how your competitors are doing and what you’d need to do to beat them.
Purchase and Delivery
Your customer has decided to make a purchase, but it’s not time to rest on your laurels. If you let them down now, they will have a memorably bad experience and you’ll have lost out on a golden opportunity to win their loyalty. At the very least, you should meet basic expectations, but with a little refinement, you can exceed them.
For example, an after-sales email or call to check on customer satisfaction – even if customers haven’t aired any complaints – is a nice touch. And it doesn’t just help them to feel special. It gives you a valuable perspective that you can use to further refine customer experiences during this important phase of their journey.
After Sales And Through to Disposal
All too many businesses are patchy on after-sales service and support. How you approach this depends on your products and business model, but even a business supplying a product that isn’t meant to last very long (for example a food product) should pay attention to what happens after a sale is made.
Getting the intel will require alertness, and businesses supplying higher-value items and those used over an extended time will find it easier to gather customer experience data. Whatever your business type, pay attention to and respond to customer comments, queries, and common issues. Try to win back dissatisfied customers, and if you spot a trend, address it.
It’s Not Just About Customer Service, But That’s an Important Touch Point and Source of Business Intel
As we’ve seen, a lot of different elements go into customer experiences. Behavioural patterns will give you an indication of how you’re doing. For example, if customers visit a landing page and then bounce, either it or the message that led them there needs work. But the best way to understand what people are experiencing and what they’re thinking and feeling is to talk to them.
From your customers’ perspective, service and support interactions are a very important part of their journey. From yours, they’re an opportunity to get data that shapes your overall business strategy to match customer needs and deliver great experiences. Your business exists because of your customers, and your customer experience strategies will impact your business’s profitability, reputation, and ability to compete.
In short, you need more than knowledgeable people to pick up the phone, answer emails, or respond on social media. You need empathetic people who share your desire to keep improving customer experiences. And, to make sense of the data they’re able to gather, you need them to have access to systems they can use to record the reasons behind every request for service and support.
Choose RSVP for Great Service and Customer Experience Analysis
What do Amazon, Mercedes Benz and IBM have in common? Apart from being enormously successful businesses, they chose RSVP to deliver customer service solutions. We’re focused on listening to your customers, helping them to enjoy great experiences, and providing the data you need to refine your customer experience management strategy. And, as we’ve pointed out, that’s a major contributor to your overall business strategy. Are you ready to uplift customer experiences and set yourself apart from competitors? We’re ready to work with you. Let’s talk business!