There’s a strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty. Those businesses that get it right are more likely to retain customers and have those customers recommend the products or services to a friend.
Studies have shown there’s a very strong relationship between a customer’s positive experience and their willingness to make a purchase from a company again.
Businesses that offer a high level of customer satisfaction will reap the benefits in terms of revenue and reputation.
But what makes for a good customer experience?
Customer experience management is the sum of its parts, which include communications, website design and experience, and staff learning and training.
Let’s have a look in a little more depth.
What is Customer Experience?
In its essence, customer experience is the cumulative effect of every interaction a customer has with your business, from the first glance at your website to post-purchase support.
It's about more than just selling a product or service; it's about delivering value at every touchpoint and creating lasting, positive impressions.
A seamless customer experience not only retains loyal customers but also attracts new ones through positive word of mouth.
Customer experience trends change over time. Today’s consumer wants to be able to connect with the brands that they use through multiple channels and often, 24/7/365, depending on the business. The key to delivering an excellent customer experience is to give customers what they want, so it’s vital that you open up these channels of communication.
The modern consumer expects to be able to contact your business by:
- Live chat
- Social media
- Review sites
With this in mind, to some extent the customer experience and how you shape it will depend on the demographics of your audience. This is true with regard to how they contact you and how you address them once they are speaking to a customer service rep.
These days, with the benefits of digital transformation such as unified communications coupled with a good CRM solution, transforming your marketing and communicating effectively with customers across all of the desired digital customer experience platforms.
Customer Experience & its Impact on Business
A company's brand is no longer just about its product or service.
In a world where 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, the importance of customer experience management is paramount.
Your company's online face - its website - is the first touchpoint for many potential customers. If it fails to offer an optimal customer experience, your business might never get a second chance.
Let’s dive further into customer experience impact on businesses.
1. Increased Customer Retention
It's not just about attracting customers; it's about keeping them.
A telling statistic from Gartner on Customer Loyalty underscores the gravity of this statement: Great customer service experiences increase the chances of repurchases and renewals by 82%.
The pivotal role of a user-centric website in this matrix cannot be emphasised enough.
Ensuring an intuitive, frictionless user journey translates to satisfied customers, who, statistics show, are more predisposed to return.
2. Improve Brand Reputation
Word of mouth has been amplified in the digital age.
According to the same Gartner survey, if customers receive value during a service interaction, there is a 97% probability of sharing positive word of mouth.
With digital interactions like reviews and social media shares forming the modern-day version of word of mouth, each engagement on your website becomes a crucial touchpoint, either boosting or undermining your brand's reputation.
3. Harness Higher Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The longevity and depth of a customer’s relationship with a brand is encapsulated in the concept of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
A study from the Harvard Business Review states that customers with high CLVs are less sensitive to price changes, more willing to try other products or services from the brand, and are more likely to recommend the brand to others.
To harness this potential, the customer experience, particularly on the company’s website, needs to be stellar. It's the cornerstone for fostering prolonged and fruitful engagement.
How to Improve Customer Experience
With a growing number of consumers relying on online touchpoints for their purchasing decisions, understanding and implementing effective CX strategies is paramount.
How can you tailor an online environment that resonates with a diverse audience and elevates the overall customer experience?
Regardless of your industry, if you want to improve customer satisfaction or experience in software companies to not-for-profit organisations, here are some practical tips:
1. Mapping the Customer Journey
The notion of a 'customer journey' extends far beyond a single transaction. It encapsulates the entirety of experiences a customer goes through when interacting with your brand, from initial awareness to eventual conversion.
By utilising analytics and feedback tools on your website, you can garner insights into user behaviour, pinpointing where they spend the most time and which pages drive them away. Analysing this data allows you to tailor content, improve user interfaces, and ultimately guide your visitors seamlessly from one point to the next. The smoother this journey, the higher the likelihood of engagement, loyalty, and conversion.
For example, if you are a retailer, you might want to explore why you have a high number of cart abandonments. By understanding the customer journey, they noticed users frequently dropped off at the shipping information page. Upon further analysis, they discovered that the shipping costs, revealed late in the checkout process, were the culprits. Transparently displaying shipping costs upfront and offering loyalty incentives to offset these fees.
The customer journey isn’t just about leading a user from A to B. It's about understanding the emotional and logical checkpoints they pass through. By studying your audience’s behaviours, you can identify and remedy pain points, ensuring a smoother, more intuitive journey.
2. Make it Easy to Do Business with You
A complex web layout or a convoluted purchasing process can be the very barriers that deter potential clients.
It's essential to evaluate your website from a user's perspective. Is information easily accessible? Is the checkout process straightforward? Can they reach out for support without jumping through hoops?
Ensure your website design is intuitive, mobile-friendly, and devoid of unnecessary jargon. Leveraging tools like chatbots or providing clear FAQ sections can further streamline user interactions, making it effortless for customers to engage, inquire, and transact with your brand. Also, considering personalising content where possible as content personalisation can drive conversions.
For example, One Door Mental Health found that customers felt navigating through the numerous categories and industry jargon on their previous website was overwhelming.
An audit revealed that while content was abundant, the actual process of understanding and selecting the right mental health program for their needs was complicated and convoluted.
The new website built on Elcom's Digital Experience Platform offers a streamlined, intuitive design, presenting One Door’s mental health services in an easy-to-find, user-friendly manner.
The relaunch included an overhaul of the existing content. A new list of non-jargon support categories provides more straightforward options for users. Clients can now select specific services like applying for the NDIS, developing a collaborative care plan, and many others that make sense for their needs.
The result? The new website enhances user experiences and streamlines management, saving time for the organisation as a whole, while assisting in increasing memberships.
Sometimes, more is just... more. It's not about how many features you can cram in, but how effortlessly users can navigate and accomplish their goals.
Keep user interface clean, prioritise essential actions, and remember that simplicity often trumps complexity in the digital realm.
3. Provide Excellent Customer Service
While the visual appeal and functionality of your website play crucial roles in CX, the quality of customer service can make or break the experience. Rapid response times, genuine interactions, and solutions-oriented approaches are non-negotiable.
Consider integrating live chat functionalities or even AI-driven support systems to provide real-time assistance.
Today, consumers access information and purchase items across different channels and different devices. It is not surprising they expect to be able to contact companies via these different channels.
Separate research from the web-based depot for CRM tech, Software Advise, has also found that consumers use different channels depending on their needs. So for a question about a product, depending on their age, many consumers would prefer to use live chat. However, for financial questions and complaints, people are much more likely to use the phone.
It’s worth considering too that different demographics will be less inclined to use one form of communication over another. For example, in a survey 56% of those aged between 18-34 years preferred to use live chat over phone, whilst in the over-35s, 27% preferred live chat. What this means to customer experience is that it’s essential to know your customer if you’re going to deliver a high quality experience.
Training should also encompass product knowledge and customer service reps should have access to a knowledge management repository containing data sheets with relevant product information on them. The repository should be further augmented with company information and customer data so that employees can rely on it to deliver all of the answers they need when dealing with a customer. This can also be further improved by adding in common questions which are posed by customers and how the rep should respond.
It can be difficult to convey meaning when communicating with people via email or live chat and research has shown that consumers easily find a negative implied where none exists. With this in mind, customer service reps should be trained in how to respond to questions neutrally. It’s also useful to leave out sarcasm and humour when it comes to live chat, email and social media platforms as these are very easily misconstrued.
The knowledge system can also be linked to the website where appropriate to offer a further knowledge bank to customers who like to browse the site for answers.
Don’t wait - respond within a few hours or a day. If it’s going to take you longer than a few hours, let your customer know. If you don’t know the answer, let them know you’re investigating. Communication is key!
Also, provide regular training for your customer service teams, coupled with feedback mechanisms on your site, can ensure you're consistently hitting the mark and making necessary adjustments when you're not.
4. Listen to Your Customer
Active listening is fundamental to any meaningful relationship, and it's no different between an organisation and its audience. Encourage feedback mechanisms on your website, whether through feedback forms, surveys, or direct interviews.
Integrate short, engaging surveys on your website to understand what's working and what's not. By addressing pain points, you not only enhance the CX but ensure that visitors have reasons to return.
You could add a "How can we improve?" chatbot. The invaluable insights they gathered allowed them to refine their offerings and deliver a more tailored experience.
Actively seeking, processing, and acting on feedback highlights that you genuinely value customer opinions. This proactive approach can foster trust, differentiate your brand, and offer competitive advantages in crowded markets.
But remember, gathering feedback is just the start. Implementing and acting upon this feedback truly solidifies your commitment to user satisfaction.
5. Be Proactive in Address Customer Concerns
In the digital age, issues can snowball rapidly, and it's imperative to address concerns before they amplify.
Monitor your website analytics to identify potential problem areas.
For example, if there's a page with a high exit rate or reduced time spent, it could indicate an underlying issue. Your landing page might be too slow to load, or the pages can be too complex to understand. Whatever the issue, make sure it is addressed.
Offer as large a customer support time frame as you can, ensuring that customers from any time zone can get the help they need. If you don’t offer 24/7 support, make sure there are easy ways to contact you, whether that’s through a contact us form, email, chatbot, social media or another channel that is easy to access on your website.
Anticipating potential issues and taking the initiative can dramatically enhance customer trust. Being proactive in addressing concerns demonstrates an organisation's commitment to customer welfare, which can be invaluable in cementing long-term loyalty.
Ways to Measure Customer Experience
We've touched on the importance of customer experience, now here is how you can measure customer experience.
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS has long been a staple in the CX world. By asking one simple question — "On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?" — you can gauge your customers' overall satisfaction and loyalty. For organisations spread across various regions, an NPS can provide a quick pulse check on different geographical areas.
2. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
This metric requires customers to rate their satisfaction with a product, service, or interaction. Typically, it's a simple question like "How satisfied were you with our service today?" answered on a scale. With a dispersed workforce, the results can be segmented by region to spot and rectify any inconsistencies.
3. Customer Effort Score (CES)
While satisfaction is crucial, so is ease. Ask your customers, "How easy was it for you to find the information you needed?" The goal is to streamline processes and ensure that even with various touchpoints across regions, customers find it effortless to interact with your brand.
4. Session Recordings & Heatmaps
These digital tools show you how customers interact with your website. By analysing where they click, move, and spend time, you can pinpoint areas of friction or high engagement. For large organisations, it can also be beneficial to assess differences in engagement across various regions.
5. Real-time Feedback
Tools like Elcom’s intranet services can help gather real-time feedback from employees, which indirectly impacts the customer experience. When employees feel heard and can communicate easily across distances, they're better equipped to serve customers effectively.
6. Customer Churn Rate
If customers are leaving, it’s crucial to find out why, particularly if you're working in an industry with a high cost and resource barrier. For example, if you're looking at how to measure customer experience in software companies, you can start by assessing the churn rate region by region, large organisations can take region-specific actions.
7. Sentiment Analysis
Using AI tools, it's possible to gauge the sentiment of customer interactions, be it through reviews, chats, or social media mentions. This gives a qualitative layer to your measurement, understanding not just how many people talk about your brand, but how they feel about it.
8. Customer Support Metrics
Factors such as first-call resolution rate, average handle time, and ticket volume can provide valuable insights. If, for instance, one region consistently has higher ticket volumes, there may be underlying CX issues to address.
9. Employee Feedback
Your employees, especially those in customer-facing roles, are a treasure trove of CX insights. Regularly sourcing feedback can help identify training gaps, product inconsistencies, or other areas of improvement.
10. Journey Mapping
Especially for dispersed organisations, understanding the full customer journey across different touchpoints is pivotal. This can highlight inconsistencies or gaps that might not be apparent when looking at individual interactions.
These are just a couple of the things you need to think about when considering customer experience. There’s also the use of analytics to further personalise the website experience and get customers coming back time and again. Then there’s the actual experience of using your website and much more as you see from our customer experience trends article.
These are just a few of the topics we covered in our recent guide on customer experience.
It was an interesting and illuminating discussion surrounding the key aspects of customer experience, such as understanding your customers’ journey, the role of your website, personalisation, CX in a multi-channel and multi-device world and much more.
For more information on delivering exceptional digital customer experiences with a great website, check out the Elcom Website Solution.