4 Actionable Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience

Ten years ago, the only companies devoting time and resources to customer experience (CX) were ones with large budgets and in highly competitive, innovative industries.

Today, regardless of industry, organizations that made CX a priority were 3x more likely than their peers to have significantly exceeded business goals (link). Not only that, but CX now often trumps price: 42% of consumers worldwide will pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience (link).

Indeed, what was once a “nice-to-have” is now a “must-have.” With the cultural changes we’ve experienced in 2020, the importance of CX is as clear as ever. Customers’ expectations have risen, with grocery delivery, curbside retail pickup, and telehealth and virtual meetings newly non-negotiable.

No matter the product or service your company provides – be it laundry services, parts manufacturing, or food preparation – it is in your best interest to examine and prioritize your customers’ experience with your organization.

Here are 4 actionable ways to improve your customer experience:

1. Audit the end-to-end experience.

From the time your customer learns your brand’s name until he becomes a loyal customer, he will undoubtedly interact with many teams and tools within your organization. When was the last time you walked in his shoes through this process? Begin by auditing your customer experience, working through each stage of the customer journey as outlined below (read more about the stages of the customer journey in our last post). This will help uncover areas of weakness or inconsistency, as well as provide clear vision and inspiration for what your experience should look like in the future.

  • Awareness
    • How are people learning about us?
    • Are our social media posts, outbound marketing strategies, and website accurately reflecting our brand’s position and the ways we create value for customers?
  • Interest
    • Are potential customers who engage with our brand receiving a prompt response?
    • Have we made it easy for them to find answers to their questions?
  • Consideration
    • Is handoff between marketing and sales seamless?
    • How are salespeople fostering genuine relationships with prospects?
    • Do customers feel seen, heard, and understood by our company?
  • Purchase/Service
    • Do our service people know customers by name?
    • Do customers receive prompt, on-time deliveries?
    • Is our product or service delivering on the promises made by our marketing and sales messages?
  • Advocacy:
    • How are we caring for and investing in customer relationships after the sale?
    • Are they aware of the other ways we can create value in their lives and businesses?
    • Are the tools available to them for invoicing and feedback accessible and easy-to-use?

2. Creatively invest in your customer relationships

As with every relationship in life, the ones that last and thrive are the ones we pour attention into. Think of the last time you experienced above-and-beyond customer service. How likely are you to return to that business or tell a friend about it? Investing in your relationships has benefits for your customer and your bottom line—especially when the cost of acquiring a new customer is 5x higher than retaining an existing one (link). In a time when the importance of customer retention cannot be ignored, this is critical.

Making sure your team keeps good notes and checks in with customers every few months is a simple and free way to keep a relationship active. This helps with your record-keeping but, even more than that, remembering when a customer’s daughter graduates from high school or celebrating their business’ 10th anniversary personalizes you and your brand. Think creatively about how to invest in your relationships.

Basic acts of customer service that display a genuine and selfless interest in your customer’s business or personal life solidifies your relationship. Thank-you cards, creating customer spotlights, or being transparent about upcoming changes with their account are all simple efforts that continue to establish trust and build the foundation for an exceptional customer experience.

3. Ask for feedback (and act on it)

Few things are more gratifying than being heard. This is especially true for your customers, who have a perspective on your brand that you cannot duplicate. Consider launching an online survey – or, better yet, scheduling short 10-minute interviews with customers – to capture that perspective. By exhibiting a willingness to hear their point of view, receive constructive criticism, and improve accordingly, you invite your customers into a two-way relationship. This is transformational to CX; when people feel as if they can influence change, they become invested in seeing future progress.

Of course, you should only ask for feedback you are willing and able to act on. This activity should include a go-forward plan to make changes, follow up with contributors, and measure improvements.

4. Personalize your marketing

In addition to rising expectations for speed and convenience, today’s customers also expect to be treated like real people. Years ago, the concept of personalization translated to a tedious and time-consuming effort for salespeople. Today, personalization is accessible to teams and organizations of all sizes, and it can start earlier in the customer journey than ever before.

Rather than sending a blanket campaign to your entire email list, for instance, segment it by your customer’s industry (read more about segmentation in this blog post). Incorporate industry-specific imagery and copy into the email and craft the offer or promotion in the campaign specifically to that customer. Consider setting up behavior- or interest-based triggers in your CRM to pick up on engagement cues that indicate when a customer is interested in a particular product or service you offer. When you break out of “cookie-cutter” methods and use technology to their goals, needs, and interests, you craft an experience that feels custom, relevant, and valuable.

Customer experience should be an ongoing, lively function in your business. As buying behaviors and culture shifts, so too should the way customers can engage with you (and you with them). Studies make it clear: keep this at the top of your priority list throughout the year, and you will see positive changes to your bottom line.