The role of marketing has grown rapidly in recent years. So many new responsibilities have fallen under our realm of concern that it can be difficult to stay on top of it all.
Customer Experience (CX) has quickly gone from someone else’s job to a top priority in many marketing departments. If you’ve been asking yourself, “Where the heck do I start?” this article is for you. It contains everything you need to know as a marketer about Customer Experience design.
What is Customer Experience?
HubSpot defines Customer Experience as “the overall experience a customer has with a particular business, from their discovery and awareness of the brand, all the way through their interaction, purchase, use, and even advocacy of that brand.”
In other words, it is the sum of every single touch point a customer has with your business and the feelings about you they’re left with.
What is all the fuss about?
Like everything else these days, this story begins with disruption. Advances in technology have made it easier than ever to start a business. Organizations in every industry are finding scrappy young competitors entering the ring and they’re ready to fight under their own rules. The champions of yesterday are being replaced by the likes of Airbnb, Uber, and Netflix.
What do these three companies and other disruptors have that their traditional competitors are missing? A customer experience that is both remarkable and highly personalized.
You have to stop thinking of your customers in terms of demographics and start seeing them as individuals. They are a diverse and dynamic bunch with unique histories, motivations, and needs.
The company who is able to offer the most relevant and personalized journey from discovery and awareness of the brand to purchase and beyond, will be the company that earns the customer’s loyalty.
The very nature of brand loyalty is changing. According to the 2010 Customer Experience Report by RightNow, 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of a negative experience. Customers have very high expectations and are far less tolerant of bad experiences.
Companies that aren’t even in your industry are setting the bar for what defines a good experience for YOUR customers. If your customers enjoy a remarkable mobile experience with Uber, they expect that same quality experience from you, even if you’re an insurance company or a fast food restaurant. To the customer, it doesn’t matter. If it is possible, they expect you to deliver.
Social media has given members of your audience an audience of their own. The connected consumer will both share good and bad experiences online and use the shared experiences of others to guide their own buying decisions. This amplifies the importance of a good customer experience.
According to Neil Patel’s article How to Connect With Your Customers, over 80% of customer service related tweets are negative. You want to be the 20%. If I search for your company on Google or Twitter, what am I going to find?
By designing an experience worth sharing, you can earn your customers’ loyalty and turn them into your biggest advocates, setting in motion a machine with compounding returns.
The three pillars of a Customer Experience strategy
There are three pillars to a successful Customer Experience strategy: culture, processes, and technology. Let’s examine these one-by-one:
To truly reap the benefits of an investment in Customer Experience requires a fundamental shift in culture within your organization. Your priority should not be your shareholders and your focus should not be on profits. You must become customer-obsessed from top to bottom and profits will follow.
Customer touch points occur in nearly every corner of the organization and every one of them must be carefully designed to deliver a remarkable customer experience. If any touch point falls below the customer’s high expectations, it could sour their entire experience.
It becomes important, then, to create a culture where every employee is narrowly focused on exceeding those expectations. This has major implications on the roles and skills your organization requires.
There is a difference between being efficiency-focused and being customer-focused. While time to resolution is important to your customers, it’s not most important. The single most important factor in earning customer loyalty is reducing the amount of work the customer has to do to get their problem solved.
This subtle difference in philosophy calls for new measures for success and incentives.
Leaving Customer Experience to chance opens you up to unnecessary risk. Customer Experience must be intentional. You have to design scalable, repeatable business processes to ensure a good customer experience happens each and every time.
There are three ingredients to a successful Customer Experience strategy that must be contained in your processes:
1. Timely Instruction
Don’t leave your customers guessing. Identify moments in the customer journey where there is confusion or friction and eliminate it by providing clear instruction.
New customers often feel the greatest amount of friction. Proper onboarding is a simple yet critical way to demonstrate the value of your product or service. Twitter does an excellent job of this when they recommend you follow 10 people as part of the account creation process. Twitter’s analytics showed them users who follow 10 people on day 1 are significantly more likely to become long-term active users.
2. Moments of Delight
Think of the last time you were swept off your feet by a company. What did they do to make you feel so special? Do you think that was by accident or was it all part of their process? Build moments of delight into your processes so they are scalable and repeatable.
3. Customer Surveys
Like any marketing-based strategy or process, Customer Experience should be iterative. If it can be measured, it can be optimized. You’re going to need customer data to make important improvements so build surveys into your processes, especially at critical moments.
One of the most fragile moments in customer banking is denying a loan application. This moment needs to be handled very carefully. Many banks survey customers after their loan has been denied to ensure their process is constantly improving. Know what moments are critical to your business and build data collection into the process.
You’re going to need the right tools to be successful in your Customer Experience design. At the bare minimum, marketing should have access to web analytics and software to send emails and create and A/B test landing pages. An integrated platform like HubSpot or Marketo is ideal but certainly not required.
Having the right technology stack in place is important but it is even more important that information be exchanged between your various systems, including your WCM, marketing automation, CRM, ecommerce solution, and accounting software so your marketing, sales, customer service, and finance departments have all of the information they need to deliver seamless handoffs.
It is also important that the experience you deliver across different devices and browsers is consistent. Make sure your website is fully optimized for smart phones, tablets, and computers. Monitor your web analytics to identify underperforming conversion rates by device to discover where improvements can be made.
Customer Experience starts with having an intimate understanding of your customers and their journey. The goal is to design scalable, repeatable processes that delight your customers and improve over time.
Step 1: Clearly define a specific vision for success. Example: “We want to deliver the best online retail experience for men’s shoes, generating favorable reviews and positive mentions on Twitter.”
Step 2: Map your current customer journey and identify every existing touch point
Step 3: Examine each touch point carefully and make a list of those that don’t meet any of these three requirements:
- It is sufficiently differentiating
- It delivers high customer value
- It gives us valuable customer insight
Step 4: Interview sales and customer service reps to discover frequently asked questions and common complaints to identify gaps in the existing customer journey or points of friction.
Step 5: Examine your web analytics to determine leaks in your funnel and assemble hypotheses for the cause.
Step 6: Look for opportunities in the existing customer journey where moments of delight can be added.
Step 7: Using the data from steps 3 through 5, consider touch points that need to be optimized, added, or removed. Create a to do list and sort it by priority.
Step 8: For each item on your list, choose the metrics that determine your success.
Step 9: Complete each task one by one.
Step 10: Rinse and repeat steps 2-8.
Don’t forget to be consistent across all channels and never stop making improvements.
By becoming a customer-obsessed organization and offering a highly relevant, personalized experience, you will earn the loyalty of your customers. By being remarkable and delighting your customers, many will become your biggest advocates and happily share their experiences online.
What steps have you taken to delight your customers?