Customer experience has been a much talked about topic over the past year. It is seen as an innovative approach to dealing with customers and prospects which can be used to improve conversion rate optimization, reduce churn and drive customer loyalty. It’s an important concept for online and offline businesses to grasp as expectations grow and people come to anticipate more from the brands they engage with.
We’re going to look at the concept right through from its definition to how you can improve your customer engagement strategy. Let’s get to it.
What is customer experience?
By conducting thorough research and organizing conferences on customer experience strategy, international research firm Gartner has positioned itself as an expert on the topic. According to Gartner, “customer experience management is the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
So simply put, customer experience or CX is about every interaction a customer has with a brand throughout the lifetime of their communications. From the first impression right through to support and aftercare.
A great customer experience is about meeting expectations from start to finish. From the first link clicked and the user’s journey through your website, right down to the check-in email once they have converted. It all contributes to the overall customer experience.
Customer Experience vs Customer Service
Customer service is a key part of customer experience. However, customer experience encompasses much more besides and takes a more holistic approach to engaging customers.
Most often, customer service will only come into play when a customer or prospect is seeking out information or has an issue that they cannot solve on their own. This service is priceless, but it is reactive and only comes into play when people are in need.
Whereas a customer experience strategy is more proactive and works on the overall image and impression of a brand that is communicated as people move through the sales funnel and beyond conversion. By thinking through and improving these initial interactions, people are less likely to need to reach out to customer support and this improves the user experience overall.
This could be as simple and actionable as writing a new FAQ for your website. Or as abstract as building a reputable and reliable brand image over time that will make prospects feel comfortable making a purchase without feeling the need to research your reputation.
The importance of customer experience for brands
Every representative of a brand is responsible for contributing to the customer experience. This includes brand managers, content creators, social media managers and every other marketer working for your business. The brand experience they work to create is very much interlinked and overlapping with the customer experience.
Building a brand’s image, voice and values can impact brand awareness and visibility before users have even started their journey with your business. But it also contributes hugely to the initial stages of the customer experience. The customer experience branches out beyond this to include the reality of what happens when a customer uses a product or contacts support. Though much of it is beyond the scope of marketers, it is still important for them to track and observe the actual customer experience. Is your business living up to its brand promise? Are your brand values being lived up to at every level?
Consistency is key in branding and a company’s brand experience should be in line with its customer experience to promote loyalty and ensure customers are satisfied.
5 tips and tools for customer experience success
With customer experience being such an all-encompassing concept that is unique to every business, it’s hard to prescribe exactly how to build a customer experience strategy that will work for you. However, here are five tips and tools that should benefit every business looking to improve the overall journey of their customers.
1. Use Rebrandly to create branded links
Rebrandly is a custom URL shortener which allows users to create branded links. As a link management platform, it is ideal for marketing and support teams to organize and monitor the metrics of all the links they share.
Whether they are coming from social media, email or whatever channel, links are usually the very first touchpoint a customer will have with your brand. Branded links will make for a positive first interaction because they are:
- Easy to type into a browser
- Easy to pronounce
This means marketing and customer support teams can use them to easily direct customers to relevant pages, FAQs and videos over the phone, via chat or through marketing messages.
Rebrandly can also be used to generate QR codes which will quickly and conveniently direct customers online from a leaflet, bill or other offline material. There are many ways Rebrandly can be used to improve interactions throughout the customer experience.
2. Create comprehensive FAQs with Zendesk
Zendesk has a wide range of customer support products, including live chat and call center software. But in terms of anticipating customer’s needs and improving the customer experience, Zendesk also offers a great tool for building your brand’s FAQs and knowledge base.
You can completely customize the knowledge base to suit your business, but it will always be easy to navigate because of its intuitive FAQ tagging and sorting system.
3. Respond to social media questions with Reply
While it would be handy if customers who had a question or an issue with your products got in touch with your support team directly, the chances are lots of people will just tweet at you. Or use whichever social media channel is most convenient for them. Brands need to anticipate this happening and make sure they respond quickly and appropriately.
Social media is increasingly becoming a platform for both marketing teams and support teams. Some well-known brands, like Sony, Samsung and Apple, have accounts specifically set up to provide support and troubleshooting to customers.
So as well as using a social media scheduling tool to manage outgoing posts, using a tool like Buffer’s Reply will ensure you’re on top of what’s incoming.
Reply will make incoming queries part of your support team’s to-do list and brings the various threads of conversation across your social media channels into one inbox. Here, they can be responded to directly and the status of each message is promptly updated.
This tool also measures response times and create reports so you can measure your efforts and ensure customers have a smooth experience when interacting with your business on social.
4. Empower customers to support each other with ForumBee
Forums allow brands to go above and beyond in creating great content for customers. They can be used to create conversations around niche topics and share solutions to issues with a broad audience of users. A forum will also highlight what FAQs your knowledge base is missing and help you discover new information about how customers use your products.
They are also great for gathering feedback and insights into what excites your most enthusiastic customers. This information can then be used to improve the customer experience.
ForumBee a great choice for creating a community forum that will provide a smooth user journey. Zendesk is also a good option, while smaller brands could opt for free, open source tools like MyBB or Vanilla. However, if you need to build a community for developers, try D-Zone’s AnswerHub.
5. Use Crazy Egg to ensure a great customer experience on your website
Heat mapping will allow you to see which bits of your website are most viewed and clicked on. This information clearly shows how customers interact with web pages. If a page has a high bounce rate or users struggle to navigate your website, use Crazy Egg‘s heat map tool to improve their experience. Knowing where visitors click and hover will enable you to logically place key content and streamline the user journey. Crazy Egg also provides other features, like A/B testing, to help you improve your website.
What do you think of these 5 suggestions? Do you have any tips or tools that have helped you improve the experience of your customers? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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This Article is About:
- Customer experience strategy
- Customer experience definition
- How to improve a customer experience
- Customer experience management