Along the customer journey right from the beginning stage of brand awareness to the final stage of brand advocacy, a customer has multiple kinds of interactions with your brand. Each interaction, or touchpoint, generates a certain kind of experience for customer.
While it was thought to be something very subjective, which differs for different customers, it later came to be known as a major factor that shapes the quality of your relationship with the customer. This relationship is crucial for your business to grow for it is ultimately the customer only who generates more revenue and brings more customers to your business.
Companies identified this experience as something tangible and gave it a name “customer experience”. Once you define something, you get the power and capability to control it towards a better end. Hence customer experience became an evolving science that aims at providing better and more refined experience to the customer.
Everything we spend money on, we are ultimately paying for the experience. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the bed you sleep, the laptop you use, everything, resort to ultimately giving you experience. Just the kinds of experience are different for different activities, but at the core, we are always paying for the experience we get.
Now, the experience has different levels. Some experiences are better than others. Flying in a business class would give you better personalized service than in economy, more comfortable seats, more leg-space, which ultimately add up to a better journey experience. And since the experience is better, customers easily agree to pay more for it for what they get in return.
So, if you can earn more by giving a better customer experience, then why not focus specifically on that? Thus, customer experience is a strategy to grow your business by providing better experience to your customers.
What is so different about Customer Experience?
In earlier times, companies used to focus primarily on the utilitarian aspect of the products. The focus of early car producers was to only create a product that would replace horses and wagons. Hence, people were happy buying a Ford 1908 Model T car, which gave them a leap from earlier modes of transportations.
It was the pursuit of better experience that made companies come up with newer products like a car or airplane. As those earlier vehicles became new normal, more refined experiences came into demand. People didn’t just want to travel from one point to another on wheels. They wanted better suspensions for a smoother ride, lesser sound, A.C. for maintaining the temperature, music for leisure and what not.
These were all part of a greater experience that customers would always long for. PWC reported that 86% of the buyers are willing to pay more for a greater experience. I would say this is not something new. This has always been the case and predominant factor that drove human inventions forward.
No matter how on-demand and state-of-the-art product you offer, there will always be a scope to make it even more refined for your users. To identify those scope of changes comes under the field of customer experience. It takes into account to look at the product from customer’s viewpoint and anticipate the usability, ease and emotions arising in a user while using that product. Once you have a deeper insight of these subtle elements, you can design your products for more stickiness and ultimately winning loyalty from your customers.
How Customer Experience works in an organization?
As mentioned earlier, customer experience generates from the sum-total of all the interactions between a customer and a brand. To break them down into smaller pieces, you need to identify different stages or departments a customer interacts with in your organization during a customer journey. They are:
- Customer Success
Let us explore how customer experience works in each of these departments.
Customer experience in marketing
Your marketing efforts play a crucial role in shaping your customer’s perception towards your brand. With a great customer experience strategy integrated with your marketing campaigns, you can drive better results. Below are the points you must consider while doing so:
Make an omni-channel presence
If you simply rely on your website to get all the attraction from your prospects, then you are done. Customers will not even know about your website until you enter their circle and spread a word about your firm. Good places to start for that is social media, email marketing, paid ads, tech reviews and many more.
All these channels have a distinct format of their own in which your message should be tailored to suit your audience. In social media you would have better engagement with your customers without even a need of promotional activities. You can demonstrate your expertise by sharing valuable content about your industry and what your customer personas would need to succeed professionally.
Collect regular feedback
Collecting feedback is the best way to listen to your customer’s voice. Nobody can articulate customer needs better than customer themselves. By collecting feedback, you would know the current state of satisfaction of your collective customer base and what actions you can take to improve that.
Analyse online customer behaviour
There might be thousands of visitors coming to your website every day or a week. Only a minute percentage of them get actually converted into marketing leads. To increase this conversion ratio, you need to analyze their online behavior deeply. Which pages did they visit more, what aspects of your website did they engage with and what made them leave? These insights would help you design better experiences for your online visitors.
Customer Experience in Sales
The most differentiating factor customer experience during sales phase is the integrity of the salesperson. In a B2B world, customer needs are often quite complex and so are the solutions. It is difficult to decide in advance if the solution is a right fit for customer’s needs.
A salesperson with an in-depth knowledge of the product possesses this information. Hence, keeping their integrity intact, they must inform the customers upfront what solutions can be delivered and what solutions cannot be delivered. Refraining from over-promising would be a great step for providing customer experience during this phase.
Few things that add up to greater customer experience during sales phase include:
Using buyer’s persona
Having an in-depth understanding of personas even before you start interacting with prospects would help in having an effective conversation with your customers and drive better results.
Farm, don’t hunt
Don’t try to close a deal just because you have to hit your monthly targets. Try to deeply understand customer needs and tell them upfront what expectations of theirs can be met or not met. Selecting the right customer for long-term is more crucial than hitting your monthly targets.
Customer Experience in Product
Product experience is an important aspect of overall customer experience. Through ease-of-use and intuitive navigation, you can make your product experience as seamless as possible. Below points you must consider for driving this:
Collect actionable customer feedback
The important information about the product’s effectiveness can only be gained from customer feedback. Collect feedback from your existing customers and act on them to suit your customer needs. Maybe the dashboard can include more essential information, or a feature can be included. Designing a product from customer-centric perspective is one of the most effective ways to grow customer loyalty.
Analyse real-time usage
If you are able to get information about the real-time usage of your product, there’s nothing like it. You can keep a close look at customer’s usage journey, what features they like, where they get stuck and all this important information to improve your product experience.
Customer Experience in Customer Support
This is one of the main areas where customer experience matters a lot. You have direct control over customer’s emotions through one-to-one interactions with them. Hence, customer support team should be trained from customer experience perspective to give better service to the customers. The points include:
Empathy and emotional connection
You must develop an ability to empathize with the customer who is reporting you their troubles. This gives them a listening ear and calms down their grievances towards your brand.
Give a personalized service
There’s nothing more effective in building relationship than if you give them personal experience. Referring to your customer records before interacting with them gives them a feeling that you know them personally and saves them from going through the laborious process of identification.
Customer Experience in Customer Success
Customer success professionals have to interact the greatest number of times with a customer. Hence, understanding the nuances of customer experience becomes a dire need for them. They must include the following things:
Making sure you are always present in all the customer’s interactions with your brand would raise their confidence in you. If there’s any pending resolution of support ticket, make sure you own it, get it done and communicate to the customers. Likewise, during any upsells or cross-sells transactions, be present with your sales team and customers to speak on your customer’s behalf.
Using emotional intelligence
Through a greater understanding of emotional intelligence, you can raise the bar of the quality of your relationships with customers. The qualitative aspect in your communication plays a crucial role in building relationship and if you can integrate that in your customer success service, there’s nothing like it.
Gone are the days when customer experience was seen as a good-to-have element in an organization. These days, customer experience has become the driving force for any organization to grow.
Any trillion-dollar organization you see today, be it Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet or Amazon, their core philosophy and foundation was built only on customer experience.
If you start thinking of refining customer experience to drive your business growth, then know that for your business, sky is the limit.
Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. An MS in Software Engineering from BITS Pilani, he comes from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.