July 3, 2020

How to Create a Successful Customer Experience Strategy

What is Customer Experience?

Customer experience can be summed up as how a customer feels, based on what you did. It’s the overall sentiment they take away from their interactions with your brand and products.

These touchpoints involve a wide spectrum of interaction, including social media interactions, marketing and email experiences, purchases, product quality, issue resolution, and follow-up. Every touchpoint, for better or worse, will influence customer experience and shape their future buying decisions, referral behavior, and brand loyalty. Therefore, a dedicated customer experience strategy becomes important to both retention and growth.

How relevant is customer experience? It’s fast becoming the most influential factor in customer decisions, exceeding considerations of value, price, and brand loyalty. Not only are over 40% of customers willing to pay more for a good experience, but the same study also revealed that 70% call experience factors such as speed, convenience, helpfulness, and friendliness the most crucial element in their decision-making.

Why is the Customer Experience Important?

Customer satisfaction can positively impact every facet of your business, from likelihood of a purchase, to the possibility of referral, and the potential for positive (or negative) reviews and feedback. 

The benefits to your company and revenue metrics cannot be overstated:

Increased brand value—Can you think of a brand considered synonymous with experience? Chances are, a few instantly come to mind. Brands with excellent customer service and experience stand out in their markets, measurably increasing their overall brand value.

Reduced acquisition costs—Customers aren’t free, but they can cost a lot less to acquire if you’re handling the experience correctly. By keeping your customers happy, they are more likely to become brand ambassadors who bring you more attention and customers, which can boost both CAC and LTV outcomes

Improved revenue—MRR and ARR are two of the most important metrics for your business’s stability. Maintaining good customer relationships has a stabilizing effect on revenue and can also impact growth, making every customer more valuable. Improving customer experience can also improve revenue—by as much as 10-15%.

Reduced Churn—Happy customers don’t look elsewhere. By cultivating your customer experience, you can prevent customer experiences that might cause them to seek out a competitor. Since it’s 5x more expensive to acquire a customer than to retain one, reducing churn should be a top priority for organizations. 

Better product development—When you know what your customer needs, you can meet those needs accurately. Understanding your customer product experience can take development in the right direction, steering the continuous improvement of your product or service, and increasing customer adoption and loyalty as a result. 

Better customer relationships—Overall, these efforts will leave your customer with a positive impression no matter where they are on the buyer’s journey. New prospects will see others’ positive experiences as social proof; those in the consideration stage will feel their expectations are met and questions are answered; customers will feel welcomed and supported in their investment. They’ll go on to form the virtuous circle of evangelism and adoption. 

8 Steps to Creating a Successful Customer Experience Strategy

If you want to drive customer sentiment, you need a strategy to ensure that every experience they have with your company conforms to your brand standards and mission. It also creates clear avenues for the customer to experience positive touchpoints and then share those positive sentiments with others. Developing a CX strategy will draw on the strengths of many departments and rely continuously on collecting and analyzing the data from your efforts. Here are some of the major points you’ll want to address when developing your strategy: 

1. Establish your objectives and guiding principles

When building a customer experience strategy, you first need to understand the desired outcomes of your efforts. Are you looking for revenue expansion from your current customer base? Referral and new customer acquisition improvements? Differentiation from competitors to fight churn? Understanding what you want out of a CX campaign will make it much easier to craft the types of experiences that organically support those goals. 

2. Identify your customer base

The audience segment you address may change based on the desired outcomes of your campaign. Are you trying to increase the value of your current customer base, appeal to new customers, or a little of both? If you’re looking for more from your existing base, developing personalized customer experiences across your marketing channels, customer service department, and outbound sales teams will be necessary. 

If your goal is to attract new customers, you will want to invest efforts in engaging your current customers and encouraging them to become brand evangelists through referral programs, loyalty incentives, and marketing that encourages them to share your products and services widely. 

3. Personalize your touchpoints

Personalizing customer interactions is one of the most effective ways to impact customer behavior, with 80% of consumers indicating that a purchase becomes more likely when brands personalize. Every touchpoint should appeal to your customer’s specific needs and lifecycle, delivering experiences that build the customer relationship for the long-term. 

  • Create effective segments and develop valuable content that speaks to each. 
  • Adopt an omnichannel approach to meet customers where they are.
  • Laser-target your display and social advertising, websites, and email for a personalized experience. 
  • Care for customers that are reaching milestones (revenue, loyalty milestones, renewal periods).
  • Surprise your customers with experiences that go beyond simple marketing and email outreach. 

4. Gather and apply customer feedback

One of the most important factors in improving your customer experience is understanding your efforts through your customers’ perspective. In this case, customer feedback, such as surveys, reviews, and testimonials, can be extremely valuable. Analyzing this data can help you understand the overall impact of your strategies, the enthusiasm your customers have for your product, and can help identify areas in your practice that could benefit from review and improvement.

Customers will often give you plenty of feedback when given the opportunity, so be sure to build these elements into your customer journey. Timing is everything with regards to feedback; it must be timely enough for customers to engage with the product thoroughly before a review, but not so long that their initial enthusiasm has waned. To understand your customer’s changing perception over time, a follow-up questionnaire may also be helpful.

Also important to note, feedback requests that are paired referral opportunities can give you the chance to strike while the iron is hot and increase the potential for new customer acquisition.

5. Establish policies around quality control

As a company, every message and communication that goes out the door will impact your customers’ experience of your brand. For that reason, quality control should be a regular and essential part of your CX strategy. It should flow through every aspect of your interactions and communications:

  • Ads and social messaging—Good editorial processes and brand identity standards.
  • Sales and marketing interactions—How and when communication is made, and how requests are handled.
  • Customer service and issue resolution—Wait time, issue resolution, customer satisfaction, and follow-up.
  • Billing and contract services—Billing accuracy, contract and renewal efficiency, data security.
  • Product and feature benchmarks—Downtime monitoring, product usability, maintenance communications, feature development.

At any touchpoint, there should be benchmarks for the speed, efficiency, quality, and care with which customers can use your product or service, and how quickly issues are resolved when they arise.

6. Apply employee feedback

Employees in sales, marketing, and customer service are your boots on the ground, and the people most likely to receive customer feedback informally. Keeping good communication with these team members and integrating their findings into your overall CX strategy development is vital to keeping up with customer demands and sentiment.

Create a system where providing employee feedback is encouraged, and where employees are empowered to both provide and act on the feedback and trends they see in their interactions. Tracking and reporting metrics on these efforts can also encourage better communication and adoption of employee feedback practices.

7. Measure ROI

Understanding how your efforts are rewarding you is key to continuous improvement of your customer experience. Fortunately, several benchmarks can help you understand how your campaigns and programs are received.

Net Promoter Scores (NPS)—Net promoter scores examine a particular aspect of customer loyalty: the likelihood of an individual recommending your product or service to a friend or colleague. It’s often presented as a 0-to-10 scale, with an NPS in the 9-10 range indicating a high likelihood of brand evangelism and loyalty.

Customer Effort Scores (CES)—The Customer Effort Score can measure the amount of effort a customer must make to get an issue or question resolved. Customers can rate their experiences as “very difficult” to “very easy.” Companies that lower their customer effort can enjoy better product adoption, loyalty, and brand reputation.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSS)—Customer satisfaction rates your customer’s overall experience while engaging with your brand and their happiness with your product or service. Satisfaction can be measured through surveys to define the product, service, customer service, or issue resolution experience, allowing you to address areas in need of improvement.

Time to Resolution (TTR)—TTR is a customer service metric that indicates the CS team’s efficiency in resolving issues. Timely resolution is one of the most important aspects of customer service. Along with effort, the time to resolution measurement can impact your customer loyalty and evangelism, so measuring TTR and keeping those numbers low is key to good customer relationships.

8. Continuously improve upon practices

Continuous improvement strategies can benefit CX by providing ongoing and updated benchmarks and processes to achieve the best outcomes for your customer. While the continuous improvement model is a deep topic, the practice of CI boils down to the repetition of a specific implement-and-test pattern:

  1. Plan—Decide the improvement you’re going to test, based on available data.
  2. Do—Implement the plan agreed upon in the planning phase.
  3. Check—Monitor and analyze the result of your implementation.
  4. Act—Improve upon the process based upon the results of analysis.

Creating this cycle of continuous improvement can reap rewards over time, improving your customer and product experience, fine-tuning your practices and offers, and helping you contextualize and take action on the data flowing in from marketing, revenue, pipeline, CS, and adoption/attrition metrics.

Improve Your Customer Experience Strategy

Taking full responsibility for the customer’s total experience can transform their understanding of your brand, improve their loyalty, and brand evangelism. Even better, it can improve your internal processes, and make growth and revenue easier to realize. 

Sendoso helps customers elevate the customer experience by personalizing every experience, impacting each customer at every point of the buyer’s journey. If you’d like to improve your customer experience with the power of a Sending Platform, contact a Sending Specialist for a demo.

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Peter Tarrant, Account Based Marketer, Tipalti

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