With the competition steeper than ever, brands must find a way to differentiate themselves and earn customer loyalty.
One way to do this is to provide an exceptional customer experience (CX). In fact, Walker predicts that by next year, CX will be more than important than not only price, but the product itself. Companies must implement CX strategies now to stay ahead of the competition and win the CX game.
CX strategies for your business
In this article, we’ll look at seven strategies you can utilize to keep the customer experience at the forefront of your company and delight your customers.
1. Omnichannel customer interaction
In today’s digital age, it’s imperative that companies have multiple customer service and support channels and extended hours of operation. If a customer is browsing your website at 10pm and has a question, he may purchase from a competitor if if he can’t answer an answer fast. Likewise, customers have a shorter attention span than ever and want easy access to support.
Below are the service channels you must have in 2019:
- Live Chat- Consumers love live chat software because it’s convenient and issues are usually resolved quickly. A study by ZenDesk found that consumers are more satisfied with live chat than any other support channel mostly because they can multitask while chatting.
- Phone- While younger customers may prefer live chat, some customers are used to picking up the phone for support and this is not going away. Zappos even has live phone support 24/7.
- Email- Many consumers only have the time to send a quick email about an issue. While it’s harder to resolve the issue on the first touch with email, it’s still commonly used.
- Social Media Support- More and more companies are utilizing social media support to answer customer questions. Nike has a dedicated support handle on Twitter (@NikeSupport) and Starbucks has one solely for customer ideas (@MyStarbucksidea).
- Self-Support Options- If you can’t have live support 24/7, knowledges bases are a great way to provide information to customers who want to find answers on their own or needs information after hours. The key is answering the right questions and promoting it so customers know it’s available.
- Chatbots- Through artificial intelligence, chatbots can hold a conversation with customers and complete simple tasks such as help with payment or checkout. The latest chatbot technology uses voice assistant so customers don’t even have to type their question. Consumers are already familiar with this technology thanks to Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.
2. Focus on the employee
The link between CX and the employee experience (EX) is becoming more evident, and businesses are realizing that happy employees are more willing to go the extra mile for their customers. A Gallup study found that engaged teams show up to 59% less turnover, 17% higher productivity, 21% greater profitability, and 10% higher customer ratings. EX is the key to employee engagement and companies that engage their employees in the right ways will see the benefits.
One way to engage employees is by valuing and rewarding them, both by recognition and monitarly. Verbal praise is highly effective can decrease turnover. On the other hand, employees are motivated by money, and the Qualtrics Customer Obsession Report found that, of the employees who don’t go out of their way to make a good customer experience, the #1 reason employees give is that their compensation isn’t tied to customer experience. By tying your CX goals in their compensation, you’re motivating your employees to delight your customers. In addition, employees who don’t care about their customer reviews say it’s because employees don’t get recognized for ratings and it doesn’t make a difference to them personally.
3. Surprise and delight your customers
It’s not enough to just provide your customers with a great product, you must delight them with every interaction during the customer journey. Zappos is a great example of a customer-centric organization with a leader that empowers his customer service team to delight their customers. Zappos is open 24/7 and customers can return shoes for 365 days after they buy them. In addition, Zappos has been known to send flowers and cards to customers as a personal touch.
Spotify is another company that takes customer support seriously. They have a dedicated Twitter handle, @SpotifyCares where customers can tweet support questions and Spotify answers quickly. Often, a user goes to the Twitter page and Spotify has already addressed the issue.
Finally, United Healthcare delights customers through a combination of personalize human touch and a new digital mobile experience. They have a Chief Experience Officer whose job is to oversee all experiences, a trend that’s gaining momentum. United Healthcare is also developing tools that enable doctors to prescribe prescription drugs that are covered by the patient’s medical plan and lower in cost. They understand what their customer’s need and work to make life easier for them.
4. Create visibility for your program
Successful CX programs are not built in silos but have buy-in from every department in the company. For instance, if the product team is developing great products but the customer service team can’t answer customer questions, the experience is going to be lacking. In order to get buy-in from other department leaders, you must make your CX goals and accomplishments visible and put the right information into their hands.
To make this easier, use dashboards and reports from your enterprise feedback management platform to show areas of improvement and progress. You can also create role and region based reports to get the right info to the right people. You can typically do this right in most CX platforms, or you can import the data in to your favorite business intelligence software tool like Tableau, Domo or Power BI.
5. Dial in your metrics
It’s vital that you collect experience data (X-data) and operational data (O-data) so you have a complete picture of your CX health. While many companies collect O-data, tangible records of tangible operational activities, not every company uses X-data, the human data—the beliefs, sentiments and emotions. This causes a problem because there’s an experience gap. 80% of CEO’s believe their delivering a great experience but only 8% of consumers agree. To close the gap you must optimize the metrics below.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)- NPS is the gold standard for CX metrics. Scores are measured with a single question survey and reported with a number from 0-100, a higher score is desirable. Customers are bucketed into promoters (score of 9 or 10), passive (score of 8 or 9), and detractors (score of 0-6). This will allow you to gain a bigger picture of loyalty.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)- CSAT tracks how satisfied customers are with your organization’s products and/or services.
- Customer Effort Score (CES)- CES measures the amount of effort a customer has to exert to get an issue resolved, a request fulfilled, a product purchased/returned or a question answered. Customers will theoretically be more loyal to brands that are easier to do business with.
- Customer Churn- Churn or attrition happens when a customer chooses to stop using your products or services.
- First Response Time- The amount of time it takes before a customer service agent responds to a customer inquiry.
- Overall Resolution Rate- The number of customer support tickets that are actually resolved.
- First Contact Resolution Rate- The number of customer support tickets that are resolved on the first point of contact.
- Customer Ticket Request Volume- The total number of requests you receive.
- Average Ticket Handling Time- The amount of time an agent spends actually working on a single case.
You can’t measure all these metrics so it’s important to choose the ones that help you uncover areas of improvement; however, NPS is a metric that should be measured by all companies as an industry benchmark. Benchmarks are important because they show you where you stand among the competition.
6. Tie CX improvement to business results
Customer-centric companies start at the top. Walt Disney was maniacally-focused on the customer and still today, Disney is a leader in CX. To get executive buy-in, show company leaders the impact that CX has on metrics like revenue, renewal rate and upsell. One way to do this is to combine your experience data with operational data and then create segments of high and low NPS scores (or other metrics) and look at the average revenue generated by each group. By showing them the potential profit they’re missing out on, you’re sure to turn some heads and garner support.
When the C-suite is on board, they can give the marching orders to the rest of the company and you can begin to see CX improvements. Like I previously mentioned, improving CX is a company-wide effort and not left to any one team.
7. Use technology to scale your program, not people
Technology makes the world easier and companies that use it wisely in their CX research programs will benefit greatly. When you have thousands of test responses from customers it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to have employees read every comment. Text analysis can do the work for you by analyzing the open-text feedback and finding trends in the data. In addition, you can automate the follow up with these upset customer by triggering follow-up tickets for comments with certain topics or sentiment score.
If you’re ready to take your CX to the next level, you can start by improving your team’s customer service skills because customer service is the foundation of a great CX program.