You’ve heard of ‘customer experience’ before, but what goes into something as intangible as customer experience? It’s a broad, exhaustive topic, but in sum, you want your customers to have the best interaction possible when they engage with your business. Actually achieving 'the best customer experience', however, is much easier said than done. In order to fully comprehend and manage customer experience, it helps to have a complete understanding of your customer, and to fully evaluate your customer cycle (sales funnel), both online and offline.

Your customer experience involves interactions with your customer service representatives on the phone and in person. It also includes how users find and interact with your website, their reactions to your email marketing, and what they do on your landing pages. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding customer experience — what it is, how it relates to user experience, and how a company can measure and improve it. To better understand the nuances associated with customer management, let’s first discuss the differences between customer experience and user experience, and how they work together.

Customer experience, or CX, is the sum of all the interactions people have with your brand. This includes offline considerations as well as online. For example, your customer experience management team ensures a visitor to a retail store has a positive, helpful, professional experience when she interacts with your team face-to-face.

User experience, or UX, is about the interaction users have with your product. According to DigitalGov, it “deals with people interacting with your product and the experience they receive from that interaction.” For most online marketing professionals, UX centers on a customer’s experience with a brand’s website and online marketing. For example, good UX means a visitor can find information on your website quickly, make a purchase without any confusion, and navigate around your site without getting lost, easily and intuitively. In this article, the primary focus is on UX as it pertains to online marketing, which means we’ll focus on metrics such as bounce rate, click-through rate (CTR), and abandonment rate.

How do they work together? Customer experience is the umbrella term under which user experience falls. In other words, CX encompasses some aspects of a customer’s experience with a brand that UX does not. But without great UX, a company’s customer experience management has faltered, and that can mean real problems for your business.

There are a number of facets to offline customer experience, especially for companies and organizations with a physical location people can visit.

In-Person Considerations

Not all customer interactions occur across various media channels; depending on your individual business, you may occasionally (or possibly much more regularly) have to meet with customers face to face. This is most applicable if you have a store, but it can also apply to clients who come to your office or meetings where you take the time to visit prospective leads onsight. Here are a few things to consider that will help you create a positive and professional in-person customer experience strategy:

  • Dress professionally. Exude professionalism. Even if you’re a laid-back company with an easygoing culture, you need to take things seriously when it comes time to meet with customers. Dress up when someone visits your the office, and make sure that your team is representing your brand correctly. You want to stay true to your style so you’re not putting on an act, but put some thought into how your staff and business looks to outsiders.
  • Always be prepared. Make sure you have a presentation ready and that you can answer your visitor’s questions. Do your research before someone comes in the office. Even if you’re unsure why a client wanted to call a meeting, do your homework and have something ready to wow the customer and improve that experience.
  • Be helpful by offering multiple solutions. If you know a problem or comment someone may have, try to offer more than one option to solve the issue. Customers appreciate choices so they feel they have more control.

Over the Phone

The vast majority of companies should have a way for prospective and current customers to contact them, and often an email address isn’t enough. Make sure your phones are managed successfully and that you improve this communication experience with each call. Below are just a few things you can do to make it happen:

  1. Take advantage of call recording. Call recording is used to improve recordkeeping, but it can also be used as a review tool. Use it to tweak several things, including what your reps say and the answers to commonly asked questions, as well as for training purposes. Consider recording every call, both inbound and outbound, and then set aside time to listen to a few random calls (there’s no need to listen to every call if you have a large customer service department).
  2. Use auto attendants appropriately. An auto attendant is the voice menu that comes with most phone systems; it’s used to send callers to the right department. While this can help make things easier for your employees, it can potentially damage the customer experience, so you need to optimize the program to make sure the menu serves its purpose of reducing the wait time for callers. Test out different menu options and monitor dropped calls.

Shipping Options

This is a major part of the customer experience, particularly during the holiday season with a company that sells products. An appropriate shipping time is imperative. Make sure the shipping time is obvious to those who purchase a product. Outline your shipping options very clearly before the user makes a purchase. This helps improve customer experience because it alleviates the stress of not knowing when something will arrive. It also eliminates customers having to call and ask about missing or delayed parcels. Your shipping page, as part of your customer’s online experience, is also part of your UX.

Your company’s customer experience management extends throughout your online presence. From your website to the emails you send to customers, here are a few important, overarching UX basics that affect your customers’ experience.

Make Your Website Worth the Visit

Navigation is a huge factor when it comes to SEO, and this is because it directly affects the customer experience. You have to make sure your website is easy to navigate at every level, and design is a big part of navigation. Beautiful, intuitive website design grabs a visitor’s attention, which makes for a better overall experience. Also keep in mind that your website needs to be designed for both desktop and mobile browsers.

Improve your website’s design and increase customer satisfaction with its UX with these tips:

  1. A/B test your website pages’ designs. This is essential when testing layouts, colors, fonts, and other elements. Check different call-to-action buttons to see which work best. A/B testing will allow you to gather data about the designs that customers experience on your site. You can check out A/B testing software from Salesforce here.
  2. Use the Google Mobile-Friendliness tool. Optimizing your website and your design for mobile is crucial. You can use the Google Mobile Friendliness tool to see where to improve your website in order to make sure your mobile customers are always having the best experience every time.

Communicate with Your Customers Online

The key to excellent customer experience management is communication and effective customer experience touchpoints. Offline communication includes the in-person contact during a visit or a phone call. Effective communication online, however, is also tantamount to a company’s success.

Consider a Live Chat Feature

Live chat features aren’t on every website, but they can be great for customers when used correctly. Have someone monitoring your live chat; make sure they’re fully versed in your company’s offerings and, just as importantly, its personality. Chat can be used for customer support or sales.

Email Campaigns

Being professional, helpful, and quick with your emails is an integral part of your customer experience. Ensure the design of your email campaigns is easy to navigate, and keep the content of your campaigns engaging. Include clear calls to action (CTA).

Customers like to know you care. You don’t need to send an email or make a phone call with the intention of trying to bring the customer back to purchase more; they’ll be able to see right through that effort. Instead make an attempt to follow-up to check in, let them ask questions, and see if you can do something else for them.

Customer Experience Management Metrics

The Internet has made it easy to collect feedback on your company’s interactions with the public. You can reach out and collect feedback from potential and current customers. Your website, customer relationship manager (CRM), and email campaigns also provide a number of metrics for you to research and analyze.

Ask Clients about Their Customer Experience

Send out surveys

Measuring customer experience is tough. Surveys can help, and are usually one of your best options. Ask questions, and then try to find trends in the answers. The Salesforce App Exchange offers Survey Force, which allows you to create and distribute your survey and then aggregate your data so you can draw accurate conclusions.

A great time to present a survey about your brand is on your ‘Thank You’ page. Consider asking questions like:

  1. How likely are you to work with our brand again?
  2. How likely would you recommend our product or service?
  3. How was your experience when you spoke to our customer service agents?
  4. Has our product or service helped you?

Encourage users to leave reviews

Reviews are important for a variety of reasons. The more reviews you receive, the better you will be able to measure progress, as well as any shortcomings or concerns people have when interacting with your company.
Your customer experience will only improve if you listen to your customers. Collect reviews, research the interaction behind them, keep track of areas of improvement that are mentioned, and find trends.

Check Analytics for Objective Customer Experience Insights

Google Analytics has a number of metrics to help you analyze your UX and online customer experience. It offers many customization options and is full of data. Check out the Google Analytics Support Center to get a feel for how the system works. Other platforms, especially effective CRM platforms, also have built-in analytics for measuring different customer experience metrics. Once you find trends in your data, you can discover where you can improve your company’s interactions with customers.

Why is improving customer experience important? Mike Maddock, in an article for Forbes, puts it simply:

“Creating a love affair with your customer takes time, patience, and empathy. Remember, this is a journey that involves new discoveries, exploration, and mutual benefit; there will be ups and downs that you, your team, and your customers will experience along the way, and you need to pull each other along to create relationships grounded in trust and loyalty.”

When your business has created an effective customer experience strategy, customers will have a higher level of trust for any and all products that fall under your brand, and more loyalty to services you provide (especially when competitors lack CX). A great customer experience goes a long way in shielding you from changes in the market and improvements in technology. Your company is better equipped because it’s just not another business transaction, but the customer has developed a deeper relationship with your brand.

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