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Customer Experience Strategy – 30 Ways to go about

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

20 min read

I bet every business guru you turned to advised you to create a customer experience strategy to enhance customer experience, didn’t they? Yes, they sure did!! I am not about to tell you that they were wrong. They couldn’t be more right. It’s a universal truth and everybody in the business stands by it. Then let me ask you, why is it that some companies are more successful than the rest? Why is it that some companies grow and grow?

Well, there is a trick involved. Want to know what that trick is? Get ready to be the most loved company in the whole wide world! Behold the secret tip: “It’s not about what you say, it is about how you are saying it!”

Such a simple thing but assiduous to implement. Companies with successfully implemented customer experience strategies are found to achieve higher customer satisfaction, increased revenues, and reduced customer churn. All the variables aligned in the right position with favorable statistics for the booming of your business.

Customer is king. All your decisions should revolve around them.

A research run by American Express found that around 60% of the customers wouldn’t mind paying more for a better customer experience.

Customers demand every interaction to be the best experience they have with any company, so how can your organization enhance customer experience? Here we discuss the most efficient customer experience strategies that will help your firm reach the pinnacle of growth.

Customer Experience Strategy #1. Have a Clear Vision about Your Customer Experience

Before you create something, you need to be sure what is it that you want from the entire process. Having a vision and clarity in what you want to accomplish is pivotal as your customer is the most important stakeholder in your business. The easiest way is to have a vision statement that can guide you during the process of creating a strategy.

For example, Amazon, one of the world’s leading retail and tech giant and Jeff Bezos, its CEO, are known to be insanely obsessed with customers. This is why every project or product at Amazon starts with a press release where they feature customer’s quotes.

“Obsessing over customer experience is the only long-term defensible competitive advantage,” Bezos has said. During every meeting, they reserve a seat for the customer, which is a way of saying that every meeting and discussion has to keep the customers in mind.

When your vision is clear, it would be easier to operate and take things forward by driving the entire organization. Inculcate the emotion and ethics of having the highest standards for the customer and expect only the best from the employees, you are on the way to become a top-class company.

Customer Experience Strategy # 2. Work backward

‘Working Backward’ is ‘the rule’ of today’s highly competitive business world. So, what exactly is this golden rule of ours?

‘Working Backward’ starts with your customer. You try to find his needs and requirements and then come up with a dedicated solution that could be a feature, product or services. Opposed to this, the conventional method starts with creating a product or service and then finding an audience for it.

The key motto is to make the customer feel ‘served’ rather than being a scapegoat to the new products brought in. With such a method in place, your customer service, marketing, and sales strategies will be more of a solution addressing the needs of the customers.

Customer Experience Strategy #3. Understand Who Your Customers Are

For enhancing customer experience, you need to know who your customers are and what they like. You can’t blindly implement strategies one by one. You need to put in enough market research to find out who they are and identify the buying behaviors and trends. An efficient market research platform will help you reach the right customers.

Creating customer personas can also help. You give each persona a name and a personality. Like, Anna in 30 years; she likes technology whereas Alex is 32 years and needs to follow instructions on a web page. By doing this, your customer support team can easily identify who they are and understand them better. It is an important step towards becoming truly customer-centric.

Think about how often do you conduct customer feedback surveys? If not often enough, it’s high time that you invest some thought in collecting customer thoughts and catering to your services accordingly.

A successfully implemented customer experience strategy will help you achieve increased revenues, and reduced customer churn.

Customer Experience Strategy #4. Collect Customer Feedback at Regular Intervals

Some of the greatest minds in the world have emphasized the importance of ‘asking’ when it comes to relationships, life, and business. The same applies to your relationship with your customers as well.

Let’s assume that you have been dealing with a client for quite some time now but you have not taken any feedback from them. These are some of the things that you could be missing out on:

  • Not knowing what they actually think about your product
  • Being unaware if they are facing any difficulties during any process of the purchase cycle
  • Not knowing about the possibility of them choosing a new vendor because of certain difficulties that you are never aware of because you didn’t ask for feedback.

There are so many feedback mechanisms available that need to be employed at different customer touchpoints. Ask for feedback from your customers during every stage of the interaction. Often people will usually give you good ratings unless you do something excruciatingly wrong. There are so many ways for you to get feedback from your customers, either through emails, cold calls, surveys and more.

Surveys are an important part of understanding the mind of your customers. Ask them to fill out engaging customer pulse surveys. Not only are they easy to send out, but they scale well and customers are inclined to respond better as well. After creating your survey, you can send the list out to your email list, or share it on multiple platforms. You can add and remove features and make many tweaks to your products based on the data validated from the surveys that your customers fill.

For surveys that can add chutzpah to your business communication, SurveySparrow is one of the best online survey tools that comes with its own survey templates designed by industry experts, and a repository of survey questions that you can ask your customers. It has an engaging and chat-like functionality that persuades the user to fill surveys without much ado.

Customer Experience Strategy #5. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Customers

It is no surprise that human beings are a species that acts based on emotions. When was the last time, you, the reader, took a pragmatic life decision based on facts alone? Difficult to remember one right? That’s because most of the actions we commit to have some sort of emotional quotient. Research says that the decision of a customer to shop with your brand is based on how emotionally they are connected to it.

Every customer wants to be treated with priority. They want to see that their opinion matters. Simple touches like greetings on anniversary or birthday discounts could do the trick. Customers who are emotionally connected to the brand do not care about the other options that are available and are more open to buying newly released products than new customers.

One of the best examples of establishing an emotional connection with the customers is Zappos. A customer couldn’t return a pair of shoes because of her mother passing away. Zappos took care of the return shipping and had the shoes picked up without a cost. And no they didn’t stop there. They also send a bouquet of flowers along with a condolence note.

An experience hugely depends on the emotions, and these emotions shape the attitude that influences decision making. Customers become loyal because they are attached emotionally to the product or service. Emotionally attached customers are likely to recommend your product or service at least three times, says a Harvard business study.

Customer Experience Strategy #6. Educate your customers

Another aspect where a lot of businesses falter is when they assume that the customers know everything about their products, the accompanying features and so on. You couldn’t be more wrong! Customers need to be educated about what you offer and how they can use your services, even after they purchase from you. Also, educating your customers makes them trust you, your brand, services, and products that you sell.

To make people aware of your business, one of the best ways to gain positive attention is to give knowledge away for free. This is one of the most popular methods that is used by marketers around the world where they gain the trust of their target market by offering free knowledge after which they offer their premium services at a cost. When you become a trusted source of information, most of the people who are searching for the service you offer will come towards you.

Having a vision and clarity can guide you during the process of creating a customer experience strategy.

Customer Experience Strategy #7. Encourage Customers to Share

Your customers are the best ambassadors for your brand, so always find a way to encourage them to share their experiences with their friends and family. Customers love being the first to know about a product or services and then introducing the people in their lives to it.

Keep a track of your regular customers and then notify them when you are going to start discounted sales or invite them to try a new addition to your product line. This is an excellent strategy to increase customer loyalty and turn them into your brand ambassadors.

Now everyone is on social media and it would be a good idea if you are able to pursue your customers to share their stories with photos attached to their social media accounts. Many salons and cafes have found their way to success through Instagram and Facebook. There are Instagram famous rainbow cheese sandwiches to edible accessories shops etc. Many cafes nowadays have started creating food that looks exceptional as much as they taste. The amount of creativity and effort goes into all these blows the mind of anyone and that would be the starting of their success story.

You could also try and convince your customers to share their stories by offering rewards or making it a game. This would keep it interesting as well as attract new customers.

Customer Experience Strategy #8. Convenience of Service and Purchase

Customers these days are highly empowered to discover information about your products, services and every single detail about the company. It is your duty to make sure that all windows of service are easily available as an option for all the customers. You must do this to be in a good relationship with the customers.

In this time and age when chat-bots have almost replaced a layer of communication, you are missing out on a lot of goodwill if you still take two days to reply to a customer’s email. Provide your customers with the ability to get all the information without having to contact the company.

Allow the ability for a customer to shop in a way they like, this could include the ability to find you through any platform, being able to make payments using a variety of options and introducing any sort of convenience to them according to their whims and fancies. Reduce as much friction as possible when you allow customers to purchase any of your products.

Customer Experience Strategy #9. Omni-channel Approach

What is Omni-channel?

It is defined as a multi-channel approach to marketing, sales and serving customers in a way that the customer experience doesn’t change across different platforms. In short, it means that the customer experience should be the same across all channels. While you might want to innovate when it comes to different channels, make sure that the experience is consistent across all platforms.

Use customer satisfaction tools to measure how your customers feel at each touchpoint. It is essential that you provide high-quality customer service at all channels as a bad experience can make them seek greener pastures.

If you want to have an Omni-channel approach as an important part of your customer experience, then you need to consult with all the stakeholders to discuss how you want the customer experience to be like across all channels.

The point is that the experience your customers have with you should make them come back to you again and again.

A research run by American Express found that around 60% of the customers wouldn’t mind paying more for a better customer experience.

Customer Experience Strategy #10. Stop Imitating and Start Innovating

Sadly when it comes to providing an excellent customer experience most companies are content with simply keeping up with the competitors. Though it could save your skin to an extent, this would bore your customers and fails to give an impression good enough to turn them into loyal customers.

Only the names of the innovators and pioneers are admired and cherished not of all those who jumped into the same wagon and tried to enjoy the leftover cheers.

A survey conducted for 100 customer experience professionals by Forrester, 58% of respondents said their organization drive customer experience innovation by watching what their competitors are doing. Whereas 72% said they outrightly copy the strategies of their competitors. You cannot expect the customers to switch company when you are also delivering the same experience.

Innovate your way to the front of the pack and offer compelling ways for the customers to experience a fascination with you. TD bank’s campaign “TD Thank You Account” where they surprised their customers at ATMs, in the branches and also on the phone with personalized messages and surprise gifts is an example.  AT & T celebrated reaching 2 million followers on Facebook by creating more than 2000 personalized videos thanking them is also another example.

Customer Experience Strategy #11. Prioritize Quality Support

If I asked you to name a few companies that you think got away with awful customer support, it wouldn’t be a long list. All these companies that customers rave about wouldn’t have any crummy customer support team. Companies who have got their ego high and tried to belittle the customers have paid for it before long, especially since today’s world belongs to the internet and networking all over the world.

During the occupy wall street movement, Mark Hamilton, a suburban dad in New York wrote an anti-foreclosure message in front of Bank of America branch in chalk. The cops removed him from there which lead him to tweet at Bank of America stating that he was chased away by the cops while “chalkupy-ing”.

Instead of understanding the context of the message or of any other consequent messages, Bank of America had an epic fail, with the customer support team asking them if they could help them with their banking accounts. The responses seemed automated and supported the claim that they were inhumane towards real people.

Try to treat customer support as a feature of your product or service. Then you can easily make the customer experience a delight and enjoy the fruit of your work with pleasure, that is immense loyalty

Customer Experience Strategy #12. Regularly take feedback from your employees

Employee feedback shouldn’t just talk about how they fared in the previous year. Your employees know more than anybody on how your customers interact with your business since they are present at each customer interaction point.

Instead of having annual employee feedback, make sure you take continuous feedback for your employees where you can ask questions that are related to the customer experience as well.

Allow them a free hand where they can take executive decisions as well as offer ideas that will benefit the customer. Get the services of a project management software where you can track down all the activities that the employees do, this will not only help you to create processes but also look for any leaks in the way work is done.

Usually, it is when nothing happens or too much happens, we turn our heads to the employees to listen to them. It would be too late by then. This is where continuous employee feedback comes in. It would help them to share their ideas and concerns about the company. Make sure that you are not making them feel invisible or ignored. Show them their opinions matter. There is nothing more than a confident and happy employee to impress the customers.

Customer Experience Strategy #13. Work with influencers

There is so much that the right influencer can do to your brand by helping you gain visibility in social media channels where they have a lot of influence. Not only can they make your brand known, but it also helps drive engagement which will, in turn, result in more sales.

One advice we would give you is to be careful with finding the influencers as not everyone is going to be perfect for you. With all that said, there is the case of fake influencers as well who inflate the number of followers and fake engagement rates. You don’t want to get into that.

Find if the influencer is in the same niche as you and if they share value that their followers genuinely care about. Do they have the same principles as you when it comes to sharing knowledge and in terms of business. If you don’t have the budget for big influencers, you can always hire micro-influencers who are usually part of a small niche but with commendable engagement and follower rate.

“Building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.”- quote by Clare Muscutt

Customer Experience Strategy #14. Give proper training to your employees

If you wish to improve customer experience, you should begin from within. Apart from using technology to the hilt, you should also ensure that employees are given proper guidance on how to use it as well as interact with customers.

A good training program will give a lot of clarity to the employees making it easy for them to treat customers in the right way. Have a program where you find out all the ways in which you can give a better training for your customers while also ensuring that there is individual attention given to your employees if they are found lacking in a specific area of work.

Customer service employees should be in touch with the sales team to oversee the promises made to the customer at the time of purchase and must ensure to keep the customer as satisfied as possible. Your customer service team should be taught to be available anytime during the working hours so that none of their questions go unanswered.

Remember that a training program for your employees is a necessary investment that can make a lot of difference to the outcome of your customer’s experience. In fact, the amount of training that you give to your employees is directly proportional to your customer’s experience.

Customer Experience Strategy #15. Simplify processes

No one wants to work with a business that has complex steps to get things done. These days, everyone likes to accomplish tasks at the click of a button and it is a fair expectation as well. If they are looking for a product, they want to find it with a simple step and complete the purchase instantly without having to go through a myriad of instructions which only sucks their time and keeps things complicated.

The ability to keep things simple will be an advantage for both offline and online businesses. Make sure you create guidelines in the form of FAQs or use chatbots that will guide your users to follow the correct steps. If you can use technology to reduce complicated processes, as well as provide training to your employees to de-escalate any kind of situation, then you are gold.

Customer Experience Strategy #16. Measure customer experience

You will never know if you have made improvements in the customer service front if you don’t measure it. One of the best customer service metrics that you can use is Net Promoter Score (NPS) where you can easily gauge what your customers have in mind with a simple question. The question that NPS uses is-“How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend?’, it is measured on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Not only is it easy to implement for the business, but it is extremely simple for the customer to respond as well. A lot of big companies take advantage of the benefits of NPS by using them regularly. If your NPS number gradually increases, it is a measure of the results that are being reaped thanks to your customer experience strategies, but if the number reduces, then you need to look for ways to satisfy your customers more.

“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.”- quote by J.C. Penney on customer experience.

Customer Experience Strategy #17. Solve their Issue Fast

Consumers have high expectations because they are aware that a lot of vendors are queuing up to help with their problems. If you fail to help out with their issues, they will not hesitate twice before leaving you for your competitor. And resolve the issue within a day if it is within your control or the fastest you can. Nothing is better than catering your product/service with market research surveys, rightly done. You are saving yourself cartloads of time and money with market research studies.

Provide a live chat system where your customers can get their questions resolved immediately instead of having to send an email, wait for a ticket to get created, and are then requested for a 24 or 48 hour period to get a reply. This can get really frustrating for a user. Definitely not how you can improve customer experience.

The best part about live chat support is that they don’t have to resort to an email or a different platform to solve their queries. This could also reduce the sales cycle as they might even be considering to make a purchase immediately and all they had was this nagging doubt which when solved, would leave them with no qualms about paying up. You might even lose out on such a prospective client when you don’t resolve their issue as soon as you possibly can.

Customer Experience Strategy #18. Measure ROI From Delivering a remarkable CX

And finally, after implementing all these strategies carefully, how would you know if all this investment is working and paying off?

Business results…!

It is nearly impossible to collect customer experience accurately and that is the reason for many companies relying on Net Promoter Scores to collect valuable information with simple and straightforward questions like “How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend?”; it is measured on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

NPS, created by Rob Markey and Fred Reichheld at Bain and Company, is considered to be a highly suitable measure to customer experience metric. And the fact that it is really simple to deploy and measure makes it a favorite.

Not only is it easy to implement for the business, but it is extremely simple for the customer to respond as well. A lot of big companies take advantage of the benefits of NPS by using them regularly. If your NPS number gradually increases, it is a measure of the results that are being reaped thanks to your customer experience strategies, but if the number reduces, then you need to look for ways to satisfy your customers more.

Customer Experience Strategy #19. Under-promise and Over-deliver

Let’s say you run an e-commerce store. Your system probably is such that each time a customer orders a product, you give yourself a leeway of 1-2 days as a kind of buffer for delivery in case of emergencies. But if you can surprise your customer in any way, please don’t hesitate to do that.

Always try to give earlier than you promised. In fact, a single experience with your company is enough for your customers to vow their loyalty towards you. Can you improve customer experience and save the day? That totally depends on your hands.

Customer Experience Strategy #20. For Your Customers, Contacting You Should be the Last Resort

Do you realize that people would rather get all their answers through self-service rather than having to contact the customer service? Not only does it waste a lot of time for them to make the call or drafting that email, but can also be frustrating to know that their problem might not be resolved immediately.

How can you help yourself by improving your customer experience? Give them in-depth content, like a knowledge base which will guide them when they are stuck while using your product. Or, prepare an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) where the most often asked questions about your product/service are answered in detail. This way you can reduce the number of emails that you receive. Not only does it reduce your cost of hiring experienced customer service personnel, but it also reduces your customer’s anxiety.  A big win-win for everybody!

“Exceptional customer experiences are the only sustainable platform for competitive differentiation.”- quote by Kerry Bodine on customer experience

Customer Experience Strategy #21. Make Your Customers Your Hero

Wouldn’t you agree that you are empowering the customers by making them the hero of your story? Connect your customers to a purpose that you are aiming to solve instead of ‘selling’ your products. In fact, isn’t that how all sales should happen in the first place?

A company shouldn’t be pushing hard at the wrong doors. It should be able to convey what solutions they are offering and how it solves a prospect’s problem. Earn their trust by learning about how you can resolve the particular problems that trouble them. The rule of thumb should be to prioritize your customer happiness, no matter what!

Customer Experience Strategy #22. Hire the Right Support Team

Most of us have encountered customer service personnel who have made us feel bad for calling them with a query. There are people who should never be allowed into the support team with a 10-inch pole. Well, some people are just not good enough with people (read customers).

Let’s say you have kickass features in your SaaS application. That alone is not enough for you to build or improve customer experience. Good customer service is a must-have to survive among the cut-throat competition. Spend quality time in hiring the right folks as a wrong hire can break your business.

Customer Experience Strategy #23. Leverage AI

AI is being used in every possible section of businesses today. From marketing to the HR department, AI is being deployed extensively. Well, AI seems to be empowering customer experience too. Here’s how:

  • Powering up self-service: According to recent studies, 6 out of 10 customers in the US prefer using a digitized self-service tool like Chatbots. This is because they get their answers in a matter of seconds.
  • Personalized Service: AI lets you up your customer experience game by providing curated personalized content based on the past interactions customers have with your organization.
  • 24/7 Availability: By providing 24/7 customer support, AI not only enhances the customer experience but also saves you the trouble of hiring staff for different shifts.
  • Providing a Pleasant Customer Service Interaction: Thanks to technology, AI does have emotional intelligence but it can’t get annoyed or angered like humans which obviously, will facilitate a pleasant interaction with customers.

Customer Experience Strategy #24 Identifying the best channel to reach out to customers

Well, I needn’t specify it. We all know that reaching out to the customers is very important. The more they reach, the more will be your chances to improve customer experience. You are probably doing your bit too, but is it getting you the desired results?

If the answer is no, then, have you considered the ‘how’ of reaching out?

Well, there are various channels to communicate with customers. But the point is to contact customers through their ‘go-to channel’ or the one where they are more likely to spend time. You have to find such channels ( be it live chat, surveys, social media or email), make sure that you have a handle and conduct conversations adapted to them. This way you can keep in touch with your customers more frequently, find reliable information, know their opinions about your brand, understand the issues they face and redress their problems.

Customer Experience Strategy #25 Benefit from the right technology and tools

Did you know 87% of the business today, uses a cloud-based customer service management tool?

Every entrepreneur is fostering customer-centric tech in their organization. CEM tools are part of every business that desires growth. In fact, studies show that these tools are super-reliable. They reduce the workload by 67%!
Here’s how you benefit:

  • Improve the omnichannel experience for your customers
  • Better customer engagement
  • Reduce Churn rate

Want to know more about customer-centric technology? Well, then this is the right time to educate yourself. Dreamforce is coming up. Register yourself, meet trailblazers and see how it works wonders.

Customer Experience Strategy #26 Be Transparent

In today’s business, transparency is key. A non-transparent environment can be one of the factors that can leave employees frustrated and this definitely reflects on the work.

One thing leads to another, resulting in a major blow to your customer experience.

Be open with your employees. Conduct meetings and interactions where you can update the staff with the latest developments in the company.

Issue newsletters, email-updates or e-magazines for customers. You could include details like the latest features in a product or service that you have introduced or plan to introduce. The level of transparency you have with your customers and employees can affect your cx a great deal.

Customer Experience Strategy #27 Analyze your Competitors

The idea is to stay ahead of the curve and provide the best customer experience. So, it’s best to keep track of the endeavors of your competitors. Researching and analyzing your competitors will help you find the latest trends in the market as well. You get a clear idea as to where you are and where you should be.

Customer Experience Strategy #28 Personalize Customer Experience

Did you know that 33% of customers left business relationships in 2016 due to the absence of personalization? This is the era of empowered customers and though not demanding they do expect a personalized experience. Well, who doesn’t like to be pampered?! Customers love it when a brand caters to each of their individual needs and provide services and products accordingly.

Personalization has proved to be a blessing when it comes to customer experience. It has lead to an increase in revenue, impulse purchases and why studies show that a majority of customers come back for yet another purchase. That’s how significant personalization is.

Companies leverage every customer touchpoint to gather insights to provide a more personalized experience. Well, if you haven’t started personalizing your customer experience, you better begin now. Delivering personalized content throughout all the preferred touchpoints of the customers, personalizing recommendations for purchasing a product, etc. are some of the effective steps to take your cx a notch higher.

Customer Experience Strategy #29 Speak the Consumer’s Language

Customer Interaction is a crucial part of the customer experience. and sadly, this is the part where most firms don’t make it. One of the main intentions is to create a connection with consumers. Connections can be made only when the two parties understand each other. You do not want to confuse your customers during interactions which is why it is often advised to ‘speak the customer’s language’.
Here are some tips:

  • Reduce the use of complicated industry jargon. Well yes, customer approaches you for a solution, but that doesn’t mean they are as well-informed about the product or service as you. So, even when you use technical jargon, do make it a point to explain the terms to your customers.
  • Use a more conversational tone rather than using a formal tone during communication.
  • Make sure the FAQ is explained in a simple format. The customers should be able to understand the answer they came looking for.

Customer Experience Strategy #30 Deploy a Customer Journey Map

Customer journey mapping is a super strategy from which you can create more strategies. Why? Essentially a customer journey map visually represents every experience your customer has at each touchpoint. Customer journey mapping helps you see things from the customer’s perspective. You come to know of their requirements, needs, expectations and pain points.

When that’s the case you can optimize your customer experience in the light of the insights gathered. This will aid in developing a long-term relationship with the customer.

The need to create a Customer Experience Strategy has never been this high. Customers are highly empowered these days. They only want the best for themselves, especially given the fact that there are so many companies that will do the bidding for them. Imagine your effort towards providing a great customer experience pays off. Then, you can find that customers will be more than happy to purchase from you, refer your business to their friends and family and so on. Another point to note is that this is an ongoing process. You should make sure that there is a long-term plan associated with all the changes that you intend to make happen as a part of this.

 

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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