The number one thing that an organization can do to improve their customer experience is to create a culture that celebrates & measures quality service.
From a celebration standpoint, it starts with a culture that truly believes and embraces the idea of building trust and quality relationships with customers. From there, it’s all about celebrating moments in which team members go above and beyond the status quo with customer service. Whether you’re managing a remote team and celebrate on Slack or have a physical office and celebrate with team lunch—celebrating these wins is important!
Establishing a customer-oriented culture starts at the top and needs to be injected into the DNA of your organization. It could be an intentional effort through employee onboarding where every person spends time on customer support, or a quarterly effort where everyone is tasked with a half day of customer support duty across the company (even the CEO).
It’s all about creating a culture that embraces and celebrates quality customer experiences.
Make sure a strong customer focus is in the company's DNA.
This includes embedding this focus in the company's core values or mission statement, screening for it during the hiring process, measuring it on an ongoing basis, and reinforcing it with recognition, promotions, and dismissals.
Although there are many things that companies need to do in order to deliver an outstanding customer experience, the most important thing is to have a company strategy that is customer-centric.
You just cannot get to “outstanding” if your overall company mission is about creating shareholder value and not about delivering value to your customers.
Play the long game of ‘brand’ by focusing on customer lifetime value vs. a single transaction.
This will totally change your behavior and align it with providing the best possible long-term value to your customers.
Far too many businesses focus entirely too much on acquisition and acquisition costs—meaning they engage in short-term behavior that ultimately hurts their brand in the long term.
I think companies actually need to do two things: set genuine guiding principles that are customer-focused and then use data and empirical decision making to follow through on those guidelines.
At a certain scale, you need to have codes or heuristics that guide your decisions. These are things like “solve for the customer," or "don't miss the forest for the trees."
They help you make decisions when you come up against natural conflicts. So if the data tells you one thing, like using an intrusive pop-up, but your principles tell you another, like don't use an intrusive pop-up (because they suck), you can work within your principles to find a better way forward than using the intrusive pop-up.
Past that, you need to make decisions using empirical customer data in order to best reflect what people want.
It's one thing to sit in a conference room and brainstorm creative user interfaces. It's another entirely to brainstorm creative ideas, user test them, iterate, run experiments, and implement that which your audience responds to.
The one thing I would recommend all companies do, no matter their industry, is to become obsessed with their customers.
By fixating on the needs, pain points, and feedback from customers, a company can only improve. The easiest way to get to know (and obsess over) your customers is to talk to them regularly.
Build in a dedicated amount of time each week to make calls, meet for coffee, or dive into the support inbox.
Once you have a better understanding of your customers, you'll have the ability to think like them and improve your customer experiences across the board.
Align and integrate employee experience with customer experience.
Employees can and will only deliver experiences to customers that they experience themselves.
So you need to deliberately design your employee experience—the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to your organization—to set up your employees for CX success.
Creating a standout customer experience is an all-hands approach. A dedicated 'customer success' team is a thing of the past (although you definitely still need one of those 🙂).
Now, more players recognize the necessity of every layer of the company contributing to customer happiness and the overall experience.
Start by instilling that value. From on-boarding to regular CX check-ins, it's crucial to distinguish concrete roles and ways to implement them in fostering the most seamless experience for your user.
I think the one thing that companies should do better is increase diversity/versatility and inclusivity within their digital teams.
Sadly, a high number of companies still struggle with equality within their digital teams: for example, only 27% of all tech industry is female, and other minorities have even lower numbers.
So, we think about delivering the best customer experience; we need to deliver to everyone. We are expected to deliver the best customer experience to a wide variety of users (including women, users with disabilities, mental illnesses, and so on) when we're only very limited with our knowledge and mindset.
We limit ourselves because everything is done for the 'wide majority' or 'the mass market,' however, I would say, there is no such thing anymore—the biases about users having to adapt to one linear experience should be crushed. Users are more complex; society is more complex; therefore, their experience is only going to require more diverse teams to be able to solve and provide the best customer experience.
So the question becomes: how can we understand, learn, design and build for everyone and by everyone?
I believe that being more open-minded and inclusive about diversity could be the key to a better, more thought-through and verified user and customer experience.
The one thing that I would recommend all companies do to improve their customer experience is put their decision makers closer to the front lines.
Too often, the managers and executives that are responsible for setting strategy and assigning resources are too far removed from their customers to make the right calls.
Whether it's involving more people in the decision-making process or putting all decision makers into sales and service roles for a period of time, the more a company can do to connect with, listen to, and respond to their customers’ expressed needs, the better off it'll be.
Have everyone in the business be advocates of customer experience, rather than just a single department or team.
Listening to your customers across all channels and sharing customer insights and feedback with every employee will ensure you build a company culture that is more customer-centric, thus improving loyalty and Customer Lifetime Value.
Get the CFO involved in your customer experience.
Creating a more customer-centric company can require long-term "skin in the game" investments.
You need your CFO to show up for CX meetings. It will make a tangible difference.
Companies need a mission statement that is far bigger than what your product actually solves.
Example: Is Hotjar just a tool that helps marketers convert more users to registered users? Heck no!
Hotjar's mission statement is to make the web more customized and adjusted for people who browse through websites.
Is Zest just a place for marketers to share and discover stellar content? Of course not.
Zest is killing content shock and information overload for professionals who are lost in a sea of content.
Once you have a solid mission statement, your whole decision-making procedures, roadmap and brand messaging are being aligned accordingly—making your CX hyper-sharp and unforgettable.
Use method marketing (become a customer so you understand at least one customer deeply).
Method marketing is a term that was coined by the marketer Denny Hatch. It’s inspired by the “method” approach to acting.
It’s said that when Robert De Niro came to New York for the filming of the movie Taxi Driver, he arrived early and proceeded to get a job as a real taxi driver. For two weeks, he worked long shifts.
By the time filming began, De Niro was no longer a Hollywood celebrity trying to imagine how it must feel to be a taxi driver. He actually was a taxi driver.
He had experienced the dangers. He had suffered the fatigue. And he felt at home in his car. He had gained the tacit knowledge of a real taxi driver. Tacit knowledge is knowledge that is difficult to learn from the words of others.
When tasked with measurably improving the customer experience, our team members first become the customer and live the life of the customer. So by the time they begin copywriting, they are writing from the heart.
To evolve from a customer service perspective to a holistic customer experienceperspective, you must begin by breaking down every aspect of the customer relationship with your business and defining what that really means.
While it may seem a bit overwhelming, the key and my advice to anyone seeking to transform their business to deliver an outstanding experience is to remember that you are someone’s customer! It’s that simple.
How do you want to be treated? How do you like to shop and conduct business? What information and account access would you like at your fingertips? When is communication too much or not enough?
At ALB, we incorporate those thoughts in everything we do from our website design to our product offering, down to our policies and technology investments to ensure that customers have a multitude of reliable channels to contact us and shop with us, and meaningful interactions with support that aims to solve an issue the first time around.
Go into the field and get the same experience your business is giving your customers.
Go ahead and shop your store, check in to your hotel, get a scan at your imaging center, buy something online and return it after reaching out by phone. This technique works because it adds “how you feel” to the data you gather.
It’s ‘old’ advice, but it’s one of the most powerful tools that there ever was for winning internal support and getting your team members on the same page. The added perspective of regularly experiencing experiences first-hand is priceless!
Before Reliable, we were customers of many of our competitors. However, we saw so many ways they fell short and left us feeling disappointed. We went point by point through each of the ways we felt let down and built Reliable to do better and deliver our dream experience.
Be an avid consumer of your competitors’ products and services. Find all of the ways you’re even remotely dissatisfied with the experience, and come up with processes that would have instead left you feeling happy as can be. Just rinse and repeat for everything: their customer service, the actual product they deliver, their UI, etc.
Sometimes we don’t know how to make something outstanding until we’ve encountered what disappoints us enough times.
Companies must literally become their own customers, as that is the only way to truly identify with the emotions and pain points that customers experience throughout the customer journey.
What does this mean practically?
You should try researching your product as you would if you were in the market for it, visit your website, download the mobile app, make a purchase (either in-store or online), use the product or service, call Customer Service, try to return something, etc.
You have to actually do all these things in order to really understand what it's like for your customers. Note any part of the experience that seems off—hard when it should be easy, slow when it should be fast—and then fix those micro-moments.
The result will be a smoother and much more satisfying customer experience.
If companies truly want to deliver an outstanding customer experience, they need to first walk a mile in their customers’ shoes.
The companies who do that—who actually send people to talk to customers in their homes, who follow them around as they shop—these are the companies who get real insights into the challenges of their customers’ daily lives, and have the opportunity to either solve meaningful problems in meaningful ways, or find ways to delight and inspire and jolt (in a good way) customers out of the everyday ruts that we all occupy.
In short, you have to demonstrate that you actually, genuinely care about your customers and that you’re working tirelessly to make their lives better. If that’s your guidepost for outstanding customer experiences, then you really cannot go wrong.
I typically find that one of the biggest roadblocks to understanding our customers is being reticent to face hard facts. To get a deep understanding of what your customers want from your products involves both celebrating the positives but, even more importantly, drilling down into the areas where you need to improve. If you don’t do this, it’s impossible to find solutions.
We use tools such as the “Core Value Map” (incorporating the Jobs To Be Done framework) to understand what needs our customers are hiring our product for, who within the organisation is hiring our product and in which segments of the market we do and, most importantly, don’t serve.
I use this Core Value Map when interviewing customers, reviewing support tickets, using competitors’ products and reading about our market. It gives me a toolkit to understand what customers ultimately need from our product and enables me to drill down on the bottlenecks and challenges our customers have, so that we can really solve their problem.
This framework informs everything we do, from how we design our marketing site, what we build in our product, how and when we message our customers and what approach we take with our customer support.
We then work hard to execute on our plans at an outstanding level, and I’m proud that everyone on Vero’s team prioritizes delivering to an outstanding level above everything else.
The best customer experience starts with the Golden Rule—Treat customers how you would like to be treated.
This starts with leadership within the company and trickles down to the teams and processes that control the entire customer journey.
Leaders who believe in a culture of one-to-one interactions and constant improvement of product, service, and operations will thrive and ultimately provide an intimate and personal experience for every customer.
The key to delivering an outstanding (and high-converting) customer experience is making it about the customer.
Rather than highlighting your product, features and pricing on your website, highlight the customer—make it about them: their concerns, their hesitations, the emotional triggers that drive their decision-making process.
Your customer is more than a dot on a map, gender, device or browser. The key to creating high-converting pages is getting to know the people behind the screen; becoming customer-driven.
This includes speaking to your customers one-on-one and asking them about their pains, their challenges, and their desired outcomes and then showing those on your pages. Your customer journey should walk them through their experiences, their emotions, what they've tried, how they feel right now (before finding a solution), how they want to feel, and showing them how you can make that come true.
Once you know the true intent of your customer and their emotional drivers, it is 10X easier to choose the right colors for your page, the right copy, and the right images.
Everything (including high conversions) falls into place when you make the customer the hero of the story and not your solution.
The one thing companies should do to deliver an outstanding customer experience is to never think about what is the best and most convenient way to do something internally but to always consider what is the best and most convenient way for your customer to use your product.
We are always putting ourselves in the shoes of our customer first, to gain their perspective on the way we are doing things.
Our team walks through a typical end-user experience with each customer to assess where they are going to access Axonify, how they are going to do that (single sign-on, standalone, in-app, etc.) and any other particulars of their environment.
That way when we roll out the solution we can make sure it's going to fit easily into the workflow of the employees and there's no friction in terms of adoption or participation.
A key tenet of delivering a great customer experience has always been to engage with customers on their own terms. The good news is that with the rise of messaging, chatbots and virtual assistants, brands are now doing this more than ever, engaging with customers in the way they’re already used to connecting with the people they care about. Through conversation.
The bad news is that the proliferation of channels can make it harder to truly know your customer — the key to exceptional CX. In our personal lives, we’re used to chatting with people over a variety of channels, without having to reintroduce ourselves every time we switch from one to another, even when weeks or months may have passed since the last conversation. Businesses on the other hand are generally operating on channel and session-based data silos that mean every customer conversation is like starting from scratch, requiring a customer to literally repeat themselves every time they contact the business.
As omnichannel CX quickly becomes a reality, businesses now need to focus on tearing down conversation silos. Omnichannel can’t simply mean being where your customers are. It must mean having one conversation with your customers, regardless of channel, that can be shared across your marketing, sales, commerce and service platforms. The rise of customer data platforms has helped businesses build a unified and shared view of customer behavior and transactions across channels, and now we must do the same for all our customer conversations. This is what truly listening to customers requires today.
The #1 thing that a company needs to do is obsess over the customer and how they will interact with your company, brand, website, etc.
For example, if you are releasing a new product page, does the copy satisfy internal company needs or is it addressed to the customer? How are they getting to the page? Do they have the information they need to make a decision? Do you anticipate questions and proactively address them? Is there a place to ask questions? Do you make updates to the page once it is launched? Do you collect voice of customer data and use it in your headlines, testimonials, and body copy?
Prospective customers are selfish. They only care about themselves. Most companies are also selfish when it comes to their marketing messages. When two selfish entities are going against each other, neither wins. The only winner is indifference.
Care more about your customers, and their experience will get better. Care the most about your customers, and you’ll deliver an outstanding customer experience.
The key to delivering a good (aim for great) customer experience is to know your customers.
Talk to them. Understand their needs & wants. And then, of course, you need to sell the products they want to buy.
So, this is all about data. Technology makes it easy these days to collect and analyze your customers’ buying and behavior patterns. This enables you to offer more of the products they’re looking for, which in turn will cement their loyalty.
Use software that helps you make personalized recommendations to them, based on prior purchases.
And if you own a physical store, all of this should happen in an omnichannel experience. Customers want what they want when they want it, making merchants that offer a seamless buying experience between stores, online, and mobile more likely to succeed.
The one thing companies should do to deliver outstanding customer experience is to get better customers in the first place.
Customer experience starts at the very beginning of the customer journey—that's where we set expectations around what our product is, what it can do and importantly, who the product is for.
If we set those expectations poorly—by exaggerating what our product can do, or aggressively closing business with customers that aren't a great fit for our product—we are setting our customers up for disappointment.
It's easier to deliver an excellent experience to customers that are incredibly well-suited to your product in the first place.
Great segmentation, strong positioning, clear and honest messaging, can set the stage for making a great match between your product and customers that are most likely to love it.
My suggestion is for companies to really understand what their customers, users, and communities are talking about online.
This means proactively monitoring their online conversations that are related to your company, product, industry, competitors, and influencers. Using a comprehensive monitoring tool can help you out with a lot of this.
Customize, customize, customize. Identify your customer's pain points, and do everything you can to customize solutions to meet their needs.
They will love you for it, and it will help build a solid foundation for a lasting relationship.
One thing I would recommend companies do to deliver an outstanding customer experience is:
If your product is theoretically for 'everyone', have the majority of testers and reviewers come from the middle-aged to older demographic. We recruit users primarily between 40 and 80.
Younger people aren't afraid to click buttons and fail or have to recover somehow; older users are much more fearful and will find many usability issues. Bonus points if they haven't been in the workforce for a while.
(We test with younger people too, of course, to make sure it really does work for everyone!)
Companies need to listen!
And I'm not talking about just sending out a survey and analyzing the results. I'm talking about actually picking up the phone or setting up a time to meet customers and give them an opportunity to speak to you about their troubles and concerns.
Doing this, especially in the early stages of your company, is how you build a great product and show your customers that their voice actually matters.
You then take that methodology and apply it to all aspects of the business from sales to customer support to provide your customers with an experience they'll never forget. If you do that correctly you'll soon be building a base of extremely loyal customers.
Creating additional value for customers through free educational resources is something any company can do to improve or strengthen the customer experience.
Whether this consists of blog posts, YouTube training videos, webinars, or online classes, helping customers learn and grow using your product or service will make your brand memorable and make customers more loyal.
My team delivers both strategy and execution, and a big part of the experience we provide for our customers is an ongoing flow of fresh ideas.
Many of the CEOs and CMOs that my team works with are people who spend all day long operating in their own echo chambers. Some of them have been spouting the same messaging and iterating on the same channels and tactics, over and over, for so many years, that they find it refreshing to hear a contrarian's voice.
This keeps our customers engaged with their account managers, anticipating whatever's coming down the pipeline as they feel the fresh value of what’s been delivered, so there’s a bit of a hook-reward loop involved in CX for us.
Provide as much free content as possible.
We create an intimate relationship by engaging with our customers for free. Historically, companies have black/white sales processes "do you want to buy this product.... yes or no?"
For Private Label Movement, customers join our virtual community to solve a pain point—how to start or grow an ecommerce business. We engage with our community to build mental confidence, change false beliefs, and provide initial tutorials.
For those customers that absorb all of our free content—they have already seen how much we've invested in their initial success and they tell us what advanced training they need to make the biggest impact on their success.
Customer experience starts before people are even customers. As consumers, we all have an endless amount of choices, and our experience with a brand pre-purchase can determine if we make that purchase at all.
Outstanding customer experience looks like treating people as, well, people. Understand where they’re coming from, what their purchase decision-making process looks like, and how your brand fits into their life. How do you do that?
Talk to your customers. Get with them face-to-face or on a call and talk about them, not your product. Talk to existing customers, browsers who aren’t yet customers, and past customers. Listen, listen, listen, then ask strategic survey questions, such as:
Related to the product a bit more:
Those strategic questions are just jumping off points. Allow your interviews to flow naturally. Follow them down a path, listen and ask "why?" a lot. Get curious and see what you learn!
The most important thing a company has to do in order to truly be customer-centric is to listen to their customers and prospects.
This ‘listening’ can take many forms.
Literally listening to your customers and prospects in individual interviews is of course very valuable. You can get really up close and personal and find out what drives people and what annoys them about your product or service.
Another way to get great insights, and less time consuming than interviews, are well-crafted surveys with open-ended questions.
I personally think click heatmaps and scroll heatmaps also contain the user’s voice.
If people don’t scroll past your page fold, they’re telling you something. They’re telling you the content above the page fold is not good enough for them to keep scrolling. They’re telling you they’ve lost interest. Or that your design is actually causing them to leave your page before they’ve read it all.
Similarly, click heatmaps can tell you what people really want on a certain page. If one menu item gets the majority of clicks on your homepage while the content part of that page is a clickless desert, again that’s your users telling you something. They’re telling you to put whatever’s behind that menu item on the homepage.
Your prospects and customers talk to you all the time. All you really need to do, is listen. And of course, act upon it.
User interviews for example are an integral part of our customer experience improvement process. Speak directly with your users about what they need, and let them test new prototypes that you want to roll out. Don’t treat this as a hit-and-run action. Your audience is made of people, and people change their needs and behaviors all the time. You need to regularly run these interviews and testing sessions with your users, in order to be up to date with their struggles.
We've found that at a minimum, having "beacons" in place for measuring customer experience.
For example, doing an NPS survey at 7 days after a new customer sign up, so that you have a constant stream of customer experience data flowing to your company, lets you understand how your new products and services or other changes to your business are improving or degrading customer experience.
You would not believe how many well-intended new initiatives have had unintended negative side effects to customer experience.
Every company wants to improve the customer experience they deliver. They have systems and processes in place to do so, and yet a seamless customer experience still seems like a myth to most companies. Why is that?
The reason is simple. They don’t spend as much time listening to their customers as they do creating policies based on what everyone else is doing.
So, my advice is to “LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.”
Understand their pain points and then establish processes to reduce customer effort. The reason I am saying this is that customer pain points differ from one industry to another and even from one company to another.
For example, take two companies selling the same product, but one is a brick-and-mortar store and another is an online retailer.
For the first company’s customers, the key issue might be long waiting lines in the store or lack of proper signs to demarcate different sections.
For the second company, the key customer pain point could be returning products or the unavailability of flexible delivery options.
Even for companies selling the same products, the metrics for improving customer experience may differ.
Following are a few ways in which you can identify the key metrics to improve customer experience, specific to your company:
Check the consumer complaints section of your website and identify the most common problems faced by customers. Read customer reviews on your website or third-party websites to understand what customers say about your brand and their common complaints.
Conduct a survey of your customers to identify the key aspects that you can improve to provide a better customer experience. Ask your in-store staff for the common problems faced by customers at the store level.
Automate or eliminate the boring, repetitive, low-value activities that keep taking your customer experience professionals' attention away from listening to your customers and translating their voice into actionable efforts to improve their experience.
Alexei Alankin - CEO, Eventige
One of the most under-leveraged areas in eCommerce and Marketing, is the current customer and their behavioral input. Understanding how to query, gather, analyze, and then appropriately respond to customer behavioral data, is going to be a crucial area of focus for brands looking to create great online experiences. The more we can observe our customers and tailor experiences to their needs and behaviors, the more precise of a content and branded experience we as agencies can deliver on behalf of our clients.
It can be easy to just think the customer is wrong about your product or service when they are being critical, but if you can train your entire organization to take the customer seriously and listen carefully to what they are saying about your product or service, they will help you become great.
The secret to outstanding customer experience? Talk to them.
A lot of people treat customer experience like the sterile environment of a hospital. As you talk to your customers, learn from them—learn what their pain points are. You may have had an intuitive sense when you began your business, but unless you serve a bunch of customers doing the same thing as you—chances are, you are no longer your own "ideal customer."
Throw away your own opinions and listen to what your customers are saying—then use that to guide your team. The key is truly understanding.
The one thing would be 'Always collect feedback from your customers.'
That would be both quantitative (e.g. web analytics data, basic surveys) and qualitative (the why... user testing, more detailed surveys).
Before you can improve on the customer experience, you need to have a firm grasp on customer intent.
Improving on CX without understanding customer intent is a noble effort but is frequently a wasted one. Let your customers tell you what they want and develop an experience that supports their objectives.
There are two important things companies should do to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
The first, which most companies are already doing, is to listen to customer feedback via social media and other channels. That’s a no-brainer.
The second, which most companies are not doing, is to track the feedback, look for patterns, and then set up regular meetings for key staff members to review the results. By doing the second option, companies can proactively address the issues that are holding them back.
Doing so will help them win the day-to-day battle with their competitors which is what business is all about.
The No. 1 thing that companies can do to deliver an outstanding customer experience is to listen to your customers.
Do A/B tests. Have focus groups. Run website feedback surveys. Customers will tell you how to improve your business, but only if you give them the opportunity. And then the key is to act upon what they're telling you.
Talk to your customers!
What do they like about working with/buying from you? What do they feel could be improved? Would they recommend you to a friend or family member? Why/Why Not? What's the one thing that they would change about your product or service? What product/service do they wish that you would add to your offering?
There's no substitute for picking up the phone. Do less of the things that your customers don't like and more of the things that your customers love.
Keep on talking to your customers and it won't be long before one of them gives you a suggestion which becomes the catalyst for your next big growth phase.
Constantly dig for feedback. It's the only way to break down the barriers and help customers understand that bad news is the only way experiences can be made better for them.
For companies looking to deliver an outstanding customer experience, I recommend always asking customers for feedback on how you can make their experience with your company’s product or service better.
Show your customers that you really care about making your company’s offering better and providing them with the best experience possible.
The one thing I recommend companies do to deliver an outstanding customer experience is to be available to listen to feedback.
This includes having a social media presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If possible, consider getting a Chatbot for your website via Drift or for your Facebook page via ManyChat or Mobile Monkey.
Your customers shape your product, and listening goes a long way.
Truly listening to your customers' needs and wants is vital in order to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
Ask them what they need from you but also listen to your data—their actions and inactions will give you a wealth of knowledge about what they are looking for, when and why—even before they know it themselves in some cases!
Your job is to be a detective and disseminate this information into actionable steps you can take to provide the right content to them, at the right time through the right channel.
I recommend a good old-fashioned phone call.
I do it in my own business, which is an online service—we call each person during the first week and ask them what they need to make their experience easier.
I also recommend my clients do it with their customers. It might only work over a certain spend. But if you are looking to keep a customer/client returning then this can make your customer service stand out and give you the edge.
I noticed, in my own business, I saw a 5% higher retention rate after the first month with us! On $300 a month that is a good ROI.
In ecommerce — or, really any business — outstanding customer experience should invert marketing and sale’s traditional three-part funnel.
This means focusing the vast majority of your efforts post-purchase on high-touch interactions (i.e., human-to-human) and automating everything else using (1) robust onsite within your FAQ and Help pages, or better (2) interactive support onsite running on the same search engine but displayed within a chat box, or best of all (3) a truly interactive chatbot — both onsite and through Messenger.
All three of those approach can be built upon your existing support content and save human-to-human support for when it matters.
Meet your customers! It’s surprising how so many companies don’t do this at all.
There’s only so much you can do from behind a screen but think about it, how many of your best relationships are purely online?
Similarly, if you want to give customers an excellent experience, there’s only so much you can do with “personalized” email. Instead, hold meetups, happy hours, and dinners with your customers. The additional benefit to this is you get feedback about your product.
If you can’t meet them, send them something. Something as simple as a Thank You card sets you apart from other companies.
The starting point should be: stop selling products and start selling experiences.
Empathy and humanity form the cornerstone of delivering outstanding customer experience. Seeding positive, memorable interactions from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel is how top brands deliver exceptional customer experience.
Let's take the top of the funnel, which is brand awareness. All owned and earned media in the form of advertising, word-of-mouth, influencer endorsements, brand stories, and content should connect with your target audience in a deep, positively meaningful way that makes your brand memorable.
The onsite experience you deliver should be empathetic and helpful in ways that allow your brand to listen to your customers continuously.
Having live chat, detailed FAQs, responding to customers as quickly as possible, and being openly communicable are a few ways to deliver superior onsite customer experience.
Post-purchase customer experience starts with the way you communicate with your customers after they have purchased, ensuring quick deliveries and hassle-free returns.
Amazon is the apparent poster-child when it comes to delivering outstanding post-purchase customer experience. They do not mind losing money to make their customers happy, as they think long-term.
Brands that care about customer experience maximise customer lifetime value.
In my opinion, companies should concentrate on delivering as personalized an experience as possible to deliver relevant content and delight their customers.
I think that engaging customers with content and offers they will like and using channels of acquisition the customers are most comfortable with, can lead to increased customer satisfaction and higher CLV.
In a time where a customer can exchange your company for any other company anywhere in the world, you need to be consistently delivering an outstanding customer experience in order for your company and your brand to survive.
There’s a saying “(customer) trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback,” so the most important thing to focus on is building that trust with your customers.
One of the easiest ways to do this is, by first of all, starting to deliver on what you promise. As simple as that, nothing is more distrustful if you can’t even deliver on the simple thing it is that your business is doing.
If you manage to do that, then you can start taking it to the next level, doing little things to surprise and delight them.
Maybe throw in a free overnight shipping when they weren’t expecting it, maybe adding a little hand-written note in the box. And before you know it, you’ve got people sharing their positive customer experience and talking about your brand.
Great customer experience can be an awesome way to get word-of-mouth marketing when you can’t afford other influencers.
Provide a one-minute response so personalized and unique that a robot could not have generated it.
If your customer is a sports fan, look up what college they attended and say something about that team's record.
Check out what they've been posting about their business on LinkedIn and Twitter—then comment back meaningfully.
Or better yet—make a one-minute video about them, perhaps praising a recent accomplishment of theirs.
My friend, Ethan at BombBomb, replied to my email with a one-minute video greeting instead of a regular one-paragraph email.
These lightweight touches take no additional time, yet deepen the relationship with customers tremendously. Teach your team how by demonstrating it yourself first, then making it part of your operations.
When you post praise on social media, not only are you making your customer look good but attracting more of the same type of customer to you.
There is no strategy more powerful than honoring your customers publicly.
No matter what your company does or who you serve, examine your entire customer experience and ask, "Where are my opportunities to make customers laugh? Where can I add a bit of delight into someone's day, or lighten the tension?"
Adding humor to your customer experience at strategic points helps you humanize your brand, so no matter how big you grow, your customers will still feel like they have a genuine relationship with you. And whaddya know? Closer customer relationships correlate with better retention, reduced time between sales, fewer support tickets and complaints, and a whole host of other growth improvements that it'd be a real shame to miss out on.
TL;DR crack a joke once in a while!
The main thing I'd recommend is for companies to show an active interest in what their customer cares about. Asking questions and really trying to empathize with the customer is super important.
No matter if the customer is excited or upset, this is always a good rule-of-thumb. We all just have a strong desire to be heard and understood.
When companies prioritize people over their own agendas, customers reward that kind of attention with dollars.
Find a way to connect non-digitally on your customer's terms. Today, everybody hyper-optimizes for the digital world, yet we need the human connection. Figure out how you can connect with them in some form in the physical world.
An example from ShipBob, we allow customers to come to our fulfillment centers when they are shipping us their inventory. Often times, their products are their "baby" so making sure it's under proper care is huge.
Plus, they can meet the people that will be taking some—or much—work off their plate. Then, we'll fly out throughout the year to meet a specific customer in their office. We want to hear what their growth and product path looks like. We want to hear how we can improve our product, our operations, our value-add outside of our core focus of fulfillment. And it provides a lot of value to us to see our customers in their element and get to know them better.
Then, we'll do Customer Advisory Councils or feature them in case studies or include them on in-person speaking panels to highlight their successes. This is how you create lifetime customers.
And of course, this is after you over-deliver your core services and software, which is customer experience 101.
Show, don’t tell.
I see so many companies fall short of a full response from a customer, usually because they have a handy macro that may answer 25% of the question. This leads to more back and forth and an under-satisfied and under-served customer.
As appropriately as possible, it is always best to respond with the answer right there in the medium in which the person has communicated with you.
Create a video, take screenshots, find a support article on someone else's site... Do what it takes to answer a customer question in its entirety.
The customer service experience extends beyond your owned assets like websites or customer service tools.
Social media platforms, for example, are an extension of that experience online. To deliver an outstanding experience, companies should show up and be present on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by leveraging both the positive and negative incidents and using them to drive a deeper connection outside of those platforms.
Your customers know that no person or business is perfect. But by publicly sharing their thoughts online, they generally want a public response as well. Acknowledge their review or issue publicly, then take any follow-up steps offline.
By taking the conversation offline in a compassionate way, you’re allowing some wiggle room for resolution.
Make the customer feel like a real person, and not just a number.
This is something we've personally focused on for a while now. After a new client joins our platform, we get in touch with them through email or a quick phone call.
It's the little things that matter most. When you are in the world of internet marketing, it's easy to tell when something is automated, or if you are just getting passed along as if your purchase or money doesn't matter.
As a customer, this is the last thing you want - but also as a business as well.
If you want to deliver an outstanding customer experience, you need to customize your content (ads, emails, on-site messages, and so on) to the individual user.
We have the technology to target our audience based on where they are in the customer journey, yet so many marketers fail to do so. At Sleeknote, we always try to make our content fun to read while making sure there's value for the individual user receiving it.
This is missed so often, especially when you have a software product. When a customer sends in a ticket to support, an enquiry or a piece of product feedback, let them know it's been received and follow up with more information as things progress.
Even if you don't have "good" news, customers would rather hear it than nothing at all. This communication black hole exists in a lot of companies and is damaging because customers feel ignored and unimportant. Having a little transparency with your customers and communicating well creates a respectful, two-way relationship.
Today’s customers no longer compare you to your direct competition. They compare you to the best customer service they have ever had from anyone.
It could be the hotel they last stayed at, the server at a restaurant or the incredibly helpful and knowledgeable shoe salesperson at a mall.
The best experience the customer has ever had is now what they want and expect from you. So, if the product you sell does what it’s supposed to do and service is meeting the customer’s expectations, how can you take the experience to the next level?
It’s simple. Just be easier to do business with. That’s what can separate you from your competition.
Analyze all the points of interaction you have with your customers. Where is there friction?
Do your customers experience long hold times? Is there a self-service solution you can create that would give customers information and answers to questions quicker and easier? Is there a line or two on an online check-out form that can be eliminated? Can you call your customer, rather than make them call you? Are your hours of operation customer-friendly or company-focused? Do you deliver, or do you make your customers come to you?
There are many places to eliminate friction. Look at the companies you most admire. Why do you like doing business with them?
Typically, it’s because they are easier to do business with, which often translates into saving you time.
So, if I had to recommend one thing that companies should do to deliver an outstanding service experience, it would be to eliminate friction and save your customers time. In other words, be convenient.
The best customer experiences are the ones with the least friction. From signing up, to entering payment details, to getting support when it's needed.
If it's easy and your customers don't have to overthink it, then they are much more likely to keep using the service.
I would recommend that companies focus on making their whole experience as effortless as possible—spend time looking at every step your customer has to go through to sign up, onboard, pay, and get help.
The goal should be to reduce any points where they might trip up or hit a blocker, and create a totally frictionless experience. Don't make it hard for your customers to succeed.
A great customer experience starts with a great user experience (UX). Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, once said, “UX is everything. It always has been, but it’s undervalued and underinvested in.”
Typically, UX is gauged based on how easy and enjoyable it is for visitors to navigate your site or store, find what they’re looking for, and take the desired action.
When you think of UX, I’m willing to bet design comes to mind. It’s important to note that a lot more goes into a positive user experience than design. For example: site speed, navigation, device and browser compatibility, and copy clarity. The list could go on forever.
If your UX is frustrating or just plain bad, visitors and shoppers won’t hesitate to go elsewhere because they know they have plenty of options. So, spend the time to get user experience right before moving on to the many other intricacies of customer experience.
When it comes to creating an outstanding customer experience, the value of streamlining processes for transactions and customer services is obvious, but equally important is reducing friction for potential customers who don’t yet know a thing about your organization.
Think about all the ways a potential customer could come across you, including not just your landing page but also your blog, YouTube channel or social media. A visitor to any of these may have no prior knowledge of your organization, and having to browse around just to figure out what it is, actually is a very negative customer experience.
However they find you, make sure they’ll have a basic understanding of what you do without having to click a link or scroll down. Learning about your business should never feel like work, and in an outstanding customer experience is virtually effortless.
Always think about your site experience from your customers’ perspective and respect their time.
They have a “problem” and you have the solution, so solve that problem as quickly and as thoroughly as you can.
That means displaying the most critical information (product/service details, images/videos, reviews, etc.) as clearly and concisely as possible so that they understand what they’re getting, why they need to get it from you, and when they’ll get it.
Far too often I see websites convoluting the shopping process by making information hard to find, trying to cross-sell or upsell too hard, or making navigation extremely difficult.
Ultimately, people are going to not just compare your site experience to that of your competitors, but instead compare it to the best overall shopping experiences out there.
With the overwhelming number of channels available for digital marketers today, the best approach to providing your customers with an outstanding experience is to focus your efforts on implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy.
This does not mean using all of the channels that are available, but rather understanding who your customer audience is and what channels they use.
After defining your audience and understanding their habits, utilize each channel to foster your brand’s relationship with them. This means ensuring that your website (desktop, tablet, and mobile), email marketing, social media advertising, app, customer support, etc., should not just bombard your audience, but rather enhance their experience with your brand.
As customers engage with your brand, properly tracking and interpreting this data is an integral component of providing the best possible customer experience.
To deliver an outstanding customer experience, companies should deliver on their brand promise. Too often businesses set high expectations only to fall short in the eyes of their customers.
For some brands, this customer experience means answering help desk requests in 24 hours, sending packages ahead of time, or creating a frictionless checkout process. Whatever your brand promise, do it relentlessly.
What can you do to creatively bring the offline shopping experience online?
Do you offer the digital equivalent of shoppers being able to pick up the item and view it from all relevant angles? Consider adding more and better pictures to your product detail pages.
Do you offer a video demonstration showing the product in action? What questions would a shopper ask a sales associate before feeling comfortable buying the item in a store? Answer those questions visually with charts, graphs, sketches and with your copy.
Most online shopping experiences are inferior to shopping in person. If done properly though, your online experience can actually be better than an in-person shopping one.
Make sure that your experience is consistent across all channels.
Having a fluid customer experience that translates seamlessly means more opportunities to move the customer toward purchasing.
And make sure to offer omni-channel support. There's nothing worse than having to pick up the phone and call someone if you're an email person.
Go to customers where they already are.
In my nearly two decades in the e-commerce sphere, there’s one overriding customer experience factor that transcends systems, technology, and trends:
Get it right.
Simply delivering what the customer expects, when they expect it, is the easiest way to meet the customer experience challenge. If your products meet the quality expectation that you set, and the delivery meets or exceeds the arrival time expected, you’re getting it right.
Anything you do above that is icing on the cake. Icing is good; however, if you don’t “get it right,” no amount of icing will cover a broken brand promise.
Control the customer experience.
Be careful with drop-shipping and other outsourcing where you give up control over your customer experience. No one will care about your customers as much as you.
Most customers want affirmation, not information.
Ecommerce businesses ignore this fundamental human need on a daily basis. In fact, one of the most common complaints on customer review sites is a lack of confirmation in some form.
This is sad for a few reasons. First of all, when customers don't get a confirmation immediately, they assume something's gone wrong. They make a giant leap to global negativity.
And before they even know it, they're exhausted from fighting back all the worst-case scenarios in their head. Not a positive first impression.
Metric Digital executes email marketing campaigns for ecommerce brands large and small, and in our experience, confirmation communications are not only easy and simple to automate, but they're also perfect opportunities to express gratitude, provide great customer service, educate customers, reinforce the brand message and even do something memorable while the customer is already paying attention.
Remember, if you want to reduce friction, start by giving clarity.
The most important thing to do if you want to give an amazing customer experience is to find out what is currently frustrating your customers, and fix that.
That will make a huge difference to their perceptions, and put you ahead of the competition.
Then once that's achieved you can start going above and beyond.
When it comes to CX, some companies fail to see how all the customer touch points interconnect.
Mis-timed emails, irrelevant notifications, post-sell that treats the customer like a first-time buyer can convey that a company doesn't care.
Mapping all of the funnels across channels (website, app, email, text) and considering how that sequence feels to the customer is the best way to make sure you are delivering an outstanding customer experience.
My recommendation is to understand that the customer experience doesn't end when the customer hits "buy." E-commerce retailers need to be aware that a speedy fulfillment time is key.
Time-to-ship needs to be factored into the estimated delivery time. Once the item is shipped out, consumers want to be kept in the loop about the whereabouts of their items; they expect tracking updates proactively.
Returns is another part of the customer experience. A great returns policy gives e-commerce retailers an opportunity to delight customers even when they were unhappy with the purchase.
Customer experience expectations are set by the largest, best-resourced companies in the world.
To meet and exceed customer expectations, brands need to create a series of meaningful touchpoints with their customers and automate these interactions.
Defining what is meaningful for customers will vary by brand but may include loyalty programs, user-generated content, social media engagement, and on-brand email marketing.
From there, brands can leverage tools like AI chat widgets and automated email flows to ensure these touchpoints can be successful at scale.
Your eCommerce Site Search is the most important arrow in your quiver to deliver an outstanding customer experience, as shoppers who search convert on average 4X better than shoppers who don't.
Unlike shoppers who browse, who either don't know what they are looking for or cannot verbalize it—searchers have an intent to buy.
They are your best opportunity. If they cannot find what they are looking for—they will click away to your competition.
In order to offer the best customer experience, you need to keep things simple.
What is ‘simple’ for one merchant or industry may be different for another, but the main thing is to reduce the barriers and make it as fluid and easy as possible for customers to convert.
Often merchants put barriers which they believe will help to upsell or cross-sell, but the reality is that they are adding another hurdle the customer has to jump in order to convert.
You’ve got the visitor to your website—the hard work has been done—now make it quick and easy for them to check out.
Reduce stickiness by using systems that can pre-populate fields such as address autocomplete. Offer digital wallets and payment gateways that allow easy payment.
Yes, they might cost a bit more, but you increase the likelihood of a purchase. View the extra ‘cost’ as an investment.
Oh my gasssh, companies have GOT to automate.
It’s shocking how many smart, cool brands spend time and money on front-end marketing, but run around like chickens with their heads cut off in the warehouse getting orders out and into their back-office systems.
That manual stuff is how customers end up with the wrong thing or delivery gets super-delayed.
In addition to always providing accurate shipping rates and transit times at checkout, retailers should offer a variety of shipping, delivery, and/or pickup options to shoppers - services such as store-pickup, same-day delivery, or alternate delivery locations.
Shipping options like this are a priority as they deliver an outstanding customer experience to your customers and are a game-changer to competing in modern retail against Amazon.
Research shows that if you want to build customer loyalty, the most important thing you can do is make interactions easy, from placing orders to resolving problems.
Minimize customer effort. Reduce friction.
Amazon is a perfect example. From One-Click ordering to frustration-free packaging, they focus on a low-effort customer experience.
That focus is a key reason why they have captured half of the entire US ecommerce market, nearly ten times the share of the closest competitor.
Companies should never try to offer their customers too much too soon.
Too often, the companies whose products deliver a poor experience are also the same companies trying to deliver too many features all at once. Quality suffers as a result.
On the other hand, the companies with incredible CX know exactly what their customers need and they don't attempt to go above and beyond that core solution until they are truly ready.
Customer support all depends on the product or service that is being offered.
For example, if you are a customer with an SEO agency and spending a few thousand dollars per month, when you are looking for support, it better be there.
However, if you are a customer of a one-time purchase product and looking for support... it might be ok if you can't get in touch with someone directly but can find the answer through the company site.
At the end of the day, the end customer just doesn't want to be dragged through a big mess and waste a lot of time on the support process and getting an answer to their question.
Make it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for, and both the customer and the customer support team will be a lot happier.
An end-to-end customer journey should be easy, informative, quick, and hassle-free.
Rectify customer journey issues as soon as they are identified, such as a bug in a checkout where it is not recognising a coupon code, or layered navigation not allowing a customer to refine as expected. I believe that once is a mistake, twice is a pattern.
We must remember that negative reviews are easier to write than positive ones, and we all know the power reviews have on our personal purchase experiences.
Be available by phone. We started letting our customers and prospects book time slots for their phone calls directly earlier this year, and it's been a great experience for them and us.
It’s eliminated much of the phone tag that usually comes with an inbound phone number.
The one thing companies could do to improve their customer experience is ensure that they're quickly acknowledging requests by prospects and current customers to get in touch.
For prospects, time is of the essence if you want them to work with your company over someone else. They may be on a time-crunch for finding a solution to whatever problem led them to you.
If you can't talk to them the minute a lead comes in, make sure to acknowledge them and set expectations for follow-up, perhaps providing a self-service process for booking time on a sales rep’s schedule.
For current customers, you must realize that they'll only stay with you for as long as they're satisfied.
Help them feel valued by acknowledging requests for support automatically as they're sent in, while also setting expectations for when they can expect to hear back from someone on your team.
Also, give customers the option to designate issues as low, medium, or high priorities so that your team can respond accordingly.
First and foremost, the most important thing is to develop an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and ensure that all members adhere to its standards.
While there is always room for a little improvisation, having the SLA ensures that there is a strong foundation to deliver excellent customer service time and time again.
The one thing companies can do to deliver an outstanding customer experience is to follow up without waiting to be asked.
I've never seen such a small, simple action have such a big effect on the perceived quality of service and care.
When your customers feel like you keep them in the loop and they don't have to chase you, trust is built more quickly and mistakes are more easily forgiven.
I am CONSTANTLY delighted when I’m not expecting a quick response but then get one.
The two ways companies can do this are:
When done correctly, I feel special. I feel like the company truly values my time and attention and I am much less likely to churn and much more likely to rave about their support to my friends.
Every company should make it easy for potential and existing customers to get in contact with support.
This means email, phone, and chat should all be an option, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Few things are more annoying than signing up for a new service or product, and then not being able to get in contact with the company.
Make the customer support experience as fast, low-effort, and accessible as possible. This isn’t a new concept but it’s more important than ever.
Our ability to contact anyone at any time via social media platforms has increased customers’ expectations of what constitutes a quick response. Customers want and expect immediate gratification in their personal lives just as much as they do in their professional lives.
At Unbounce, we increased the size of our support team to speed up our chat acceptance rate—a measure of the number of conversations we’re able to have with customers at the time they request the conversation.
We also began using an AI tool that interprets the question a customer is asking and then displays content that answers their question. I liken it to being at a library and the librarian handing you the book you’re looking for versus searching the library for it.
We make it extremely easy for the customer to leave this experience if they wish and connect directly with customer support via a call or instant message.
Our goal is to make the customer support experience as fast, low effort, and accessible as possible.
Consumers, especially millennials and Zoomers (Generation Z) expect a quick response.
In this "always on" connected world we live in - brands that deliver instant customer service will break through the competition.
Being there is not enough, though.
You have to be prepared to handle the bombardment of questions, problems, and complaints. Bots can look up orders, answer simple questions - but don't rely on the 100% of the time.
Hire positive people with thick skin to interface with consumers.
Customer support is everything, especially when you run a high-cost service or one that is re-billing on a monthly basis.
One of the worst things we commonly see online these days is support that takes way too long to get a response from. Either you send an email through their support platform and it takes a few days, or you open up their chat box and it says you are 15th in the waiting queue.
Sometimes it's better that these companies don't have any support at all, because the waiting time and management of support requests and waiting can infuriate customers even more.