With so many products and services available to consumers at the touch of a button, businesses have to go above and beyond for their customers to differentiate themselves from the market.
Customers also expect more than a product that works as advertised – they want a great customer experience (CX) too. In fact, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
By building a CX strategy, you can create a solid foundation that ensures your organization is providing the absolute best service across all your customer touchpoints.
- Research and create buyer personas
- Understand your business objectives
- Manage your stakeholders
- Create emotional connections with your customers
- Record customer feedback in real-time…
- …and act upon regular employee feedback too
- Measure the ROI from delivering exceptional CX
- Use the right technology tools
- Optimize your customer experience strategy
1. Research and create buyer personas
Extensive research is the first thing you should do when building your customer experience strategy. After all, how you can you create a customer experience plan if you don’t know who your customers are?
Find out who your customers are, their motivations, pain points, etc, and sort them into buyer personas. A persona is a detailed description of a fictional character who represents your target audience. By developing 1-5 personas of your customer base, you can gain a better understanding of your customers and create experiences for your most valuable segments.
2. Understand your business objectives
In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, it’s easy for your efforts to become disjointed and isolated. The main cause of this is losing sight of (or never identifying) your overarching business objectives.
Before any frameworks are put in place, you need to have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.
You should have the answers to the following questions:
- What technology, people or processes do we need to achieve our goals?
- What gaps are there between customer expectation and actual experiences?
- Where do we stand today in terms of a customer-centric experience?
The answers to these questions will help you better shape your CX strategy.
3. Manage your stakeholders
Changing any part of your organization can cause disruption and confusion among your employees if it’s not handled correctly. The customer experience is created by the entire business, which means you’ll need buy-in and support from your key stakeholders to do it successfully.
By taking time to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question, you’ll help them see the value of the change, increasing the chances of them embracing the project. But remember – just because they've bought into your vision now, doesn’t mean it will remain this way.
For example, executives may change their minds, be seconded to a different project, or leave the company. That’s why you need to regularly establish and promote your customer experience vision by using tools like rich pictures and journey maps that bring your ideas to life.
4. Create emotional connections with your customers
We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. Well, this is relevant in delivering the best customer experiences for your customers. Recent research has found that a business which focus on an emotional connection outperforms competitors by 85% in sales growth.
One of the best examples of creating an emotional connection with customers comes from online shoe retailers Zappos. There are several exceptional customer experience stories from Zappos, but the one we’re focusing on is a customer who was late returning a pair of shoes due to their mother passing away.
When Zappos found out what happened, they took care of the return shipping and had a courier pick up the shoes free of charge. But Zappos didn’t stop there. The next day, when the customer arrived home from town, they were greeted with a bouquet of flowers sent by Zappos with a card expressing their condolences.
5. Record customer feedback in real-time…
How do you know if you’re providing an exceptional customer experience? The best way to find out is by asking for customer feedback. Some ways you can do that include:
- Using post-interaction and real-time feedback surveys. Then, follow up with customers over the phone or email to get clarifications
- Practise social listening – customers tend to be the most honest and vocal on social media
It’s also important to tie customer feedback back to a specific customer support agent. This helps motivate your team members as they can see the differences they’re making to your business.
6. …and act upon regular employee feedback too
Most businesses have an annual survey which will record the overall feedback of your team. It will ask generic questions around employee engagement and their thoughts on the organizations’ ability to deliver an exceptional service.
But, what happens in the 11 months between these surveys?
Usually – nothing. And this is where continuous employee feedback can help. For example, by using project management software or social media tools, you can create a closed environment that allows staff to:
- Share ideas on how your business can improve its customer experience
- Share their current feelings towards your business (this feedback can also be shared with your managers so they can gain a better understanding of employee morale)
By acting on regular employee feedback, it shows you’re open to new ideas from everyone at every level of your organization, and that you value your employee’s opinions. And when workers feel valued, they’ll be more inclined to share their innovative customer experience ideas and solutions with you.
7. Measure the ROI from delivering exceptional CX
Measuring customer experience is one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses, which is why many organizations use Net Promoter Score (NPS) that gathers valuable data by asking a single straightforward question:
“Would you recommend this company to a friend or relative?”
NPS is a great way to measure customer experience because of how easy it is to implement and measure, making it a favourite among company boards and executive committees. Use this feedback to solve the problem of a product or service to create a better CX overall.
8. Use the right technology tools
In today’s era of digital customer experiences, no customer experience strategy would be possible without the right technology. Some of the tools you can use include:
Enhance your offerings with AI and automation
70% of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. And these self-service offerings can be enhanced by AI technology.
Some benefits of AI include:
- Enable auto-responses to straightforward customer queries and guide your audiences with carefully curated content
- Reduce the need to attend every customer conversation to free up your agents to focus on more complex problems
- Use your subscribers' email browsing data, web pages visited, and past interactions to auto-send personalized messages and even track their responses
- Draw on past interactions to ensure your customers get the most relevant experiences
- AI chatbots on your website can help you deliver more personalized experiences and faster, automated service. For example, a chatbot can greet customers by their first name and if the customer needs to passed on to your agents, they can dive straight into the conversation without needing to ask prequalifying questions
Organize all your sales and customer data with a CRM system
The customer should be at the centre of everything you do. With a CRM system, you can manage your engagements and give your customers the excellent experience they want and expect.
A CRM system helps you:
- Gain enhanced knowledge of your customers and better anticipate their needs
- Create more personalized messaging for your audience based on deeper customer insights
- Access automated and customizable data dashboards
- Dig deeper into your data and metrics, and make more informed decisions
- Boost your customer retention because nurturing existing customers is easier
- Better segment your audience because a CRM breaks down your data into more structured categories and criteria
Learn more about the benefits of a CRM system by clicking here.
9. Optimize your customer experience strategy
A customer experience strategy isn’t a one-and-done exercise. It’s an ongoing process. With a measurement strategy in place, you should revisit your CX strategy regularly and look for ways to manage and optimize your efforts.
CX strategies can be affected by several factors, such as new trends, competition, technology, or shifts in consumer behaviour. That’s why it’s important to monitor these areas and tweak your CX strategy accordingly.
At Columbus, we’ve partnered with a variety of businesses across a range of industries to help them enhance their customer experiences.
Let’s take a closer look at two of our customers.
Helping Carter Jonas leverage the benefits of the cloud
Carter Jonas is a national property advisor business that’s intent on helping clients realize their goals and aspirations by providing ‘simply better advice’.
While their old system had performed well, Carter Jonas acknowledged they needed to move from an on-premise CRM to a modern cloud-based solution. This was to align with their own cloud-first strategy and to better manage their business-to-business contact data.
Since we’ve helped Carter Jonas upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (D365 CE), they’ve been able to leverage the additional features and benefits of having a modern cloud-based solution, such as having all their customer profiling information in one centralized location.
This has helped Carter Jonas deliver excellent customer experiences at every touchpoint as their teams can view accurate customer data and tailor the right messaging to the right clients.
Read Carter Jonas’ story in full by clicking here.
Helping Orangebox automate their business to deliver better customer service
Orangebox – an office furniture manufacturer – was struggling with a lack of automation and tech support across the business for their employees. By implementing D365 CE, they could better plan/schedule their field network and link this to the installation team, as well as systemise their sales.
This enabled them to see across the board in real-time what’s happening for their customers. They could also grow their business without increasing their cost space by improving the consistency and quality of customer service.
Click here to learn more about Orangebox’s journey.
Transform your customer experience with digital transformation
Providing exceptional CX is one of the major driving forces for customer retention and acquisition. Technology can help you deliver an unparalleled customer experience – but you also need the right mindset and culture inside your organization to make your transformation a success.
Our recent report produced in association with Business Reporter looks at the internal and external impacts of digital transformation and how it connects to customer experience.
Click the button below to download your copy.