What is customer experience?

Customer experience, or CX, is the impression you make on a customer across every interaction they have with your business. This encompasses every customer touchpoint you have with them - including activity on your website, adoption of your product or service, interactions with your customer-facing teams, and even the ads they see about your brand on social media. 

Customer experience includes two main components: the product and the people. When you can manage to delight them with both—through quality customer service and a well-made product—you can ensure that their customer experience is a positive one.

Why is Customer Experience (CX) important?

According to Walker Information, it is predicted that CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Customers have more control of their decision-making process than ever before. They can access information on the web, review your product or service in very visible spaces like social media, and easily switch to a competitor. When every one of your customers or prospects can search online for ten different options to your service - customer experience will be the way to stand out.  

 Your customers are also your best and most easily available resource for understanding what people want from your product and how they see your brand. Outstanding CX often leads to building long term relationships with loyal customers, positive mentions online, and growing your customer base through positive recommendations. A successful CX strategy will improve overall customer satisfaction, reduce customer churn, and increase your ability to cross-sell and up-sell.

What is Customer Experience Management?

Customer experience management (CXM or CEM) is the collection of processes an organization uses to track and improve every interaction between the customer and the business throughout the entire customer lifecycle. It’s designing every step of a customer’s journey to meet or exceed their expectations and thereby increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. CEM is the 360-degree view of a customer through the lens of the experience you’ve created.

Many businesses develop a cross-disciplinary team to focus on this important work, rather than leaving it to customer support alone or working on it in pieces through various departments. To develop a plan for CX that works, it’s essential to have people focused on optimizing your customer experience, and helping specific departments make the improvements needed throughout the year. Successful customer experience management requires constant strategizing, updating, and effort, but it is definitely worth the investment.

Customer Experience Strategy

Customer experience strategy is the actionable plan developed by an organization to deliver a positive customer experience across every customer interaction. To develop your customer experience strategy, be sure to consider the following factors:

Once you’re sure of where you stand and who your customers are, take a look at the four key competencies a business must meet to achieve customer experience success, according to the Temkin Experience Ratings benchmark report. They are:

Armed with that data, you can create your customer experience strategy. As you do, take these steps:

How to Improve Customer Experience?

Improving customer experience isn’t a one-day job, however it is something you can tackle piece-by-piece over time until you end up right where you want to be. 13 ways to make it happen follow:

Know Your Customers

It’s impossible to create your organization’s best CX unless you know your customers well and are clear about what they’re looking for from your product. Look into how they currently use your product, what they want from it, and details specific to each customer to help inform a full picture of who they are.

Establish your Ideal CX

How do you want a customer to feel when they interact with your brand? What are your organization’s goals and vision? Figure that out, then shape your CX plan around those ideals. Once you know what they are, you can work on the details that will make it happen. Check and recheck that every step along the way invokes the feeling you want for your customers to experience.

Develop a Customer-Centric Culture

Instead of creating a customer experience team to manage customer experience for your organization, make it a part of the culture for every single team and individual person within your company. By encouraging your staff to consider the customer in every decision they make, you’ll ensure your CX is on the right path.

Provide quick, simple, and accurate customer support 

Provide the information they need in the place they’ll look for it, and make sure your team is both quick to respond and skilled. This is especially important if your customers are likely to have time-sensitive queries.

Personalize the Customer Experience

Top-notch customer experience includes making every customer feel valued as an individual. To do this, make sure your CX strategy includes ways to personalize each customer’s experience with your brand. Provide your team with a way to see a complete view of a customer, including purchases they’ve made, how they use your product, and suggestions on things you should recommend to them based on their history. Once you’re beyond a small number of customers, though, this level of customization will be tricky to do on your own. As your team scales, invest in a full-fledged customer engagement suite like Freshworks.

Boost customer engagement

Customer engagement is an essential piece of CX across industries. Whether you’re developing a plan for engagement for an airline, a piece of software, or a small business, the key to success will be in satisfying customers and keeping them engaged. To boost customer engagement, you can foster an active community to periodically engage with your customers about your product/ service or brand. This is a great way to get your customers to engage with in conversations amongst themselves. To learn more on improving your engagement skills, check out our guide to customer engagement.

Move to an Omnichannel Solution

If you’re still uni-channel multi-channel, now is the time to go omnichannel. Create a system for allowing customers to interact with you from any channel and receive the same level of support. Work to eliminate disconnected tools and workflows in favor of a unified approach. Know how you’ll handle it if a customer sends an email, tweets at you, and opens a live chat all within a few minutes. By avoiding information silos and opening support up between teams, you’ll instantly provide better service to your customers.

Improve Customer Service Experience

Develop your customer service to directly connect with your branding and goals. Make sure you’re offering top-notch customer service anytime a customer reaches out to your team. To help your team make this happen, eliminate unnecessary roadblocks so your agents have access to exactly what they need to get the job done right. Avoid sticking your team with the task of burdensome transfers and slow-moving tiers of support, and instead empower them to take care of the issue or make sure any hand offs are done smoothly and with as little extra frustration on the user’s side as possible.

Build Out Your Self-Service Options

Modern customers are busy and many are savvy enough to be able to help themselves. Why not let them? Be sure your CX includes self-service support options, with offerings like a complete knowledge base that includes help guides and how-tos, a community forum space to ask new questions, and any other resources a customer may need to answer their own questions. If the self-service approach fails, make it easy for them to reach a team member for help instead.

Communicate Clearly with Your Users

Any direct communication you have with your users is an important piece of CX. This includes customer service. Every support interaction is a chance to directly connect with the customer. And after every interaction, the customer will leave the conversation with an impression of your organization which will consequently affect how they feel about your brand overall. To be sure the customer leaves a support request feeling great about your brand, train your support team to use a conversational, welcoming style and give them the resources they need to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Take a Proactive Approach

Some customers have no problem reaching out to support, but others will struggle in silence. Instead of waiting for customers to contact you with a problem, look for ways to prevent them from needing to. Look for ways to invite users to contact your support team when they get stuck somewhere, and consider reaching out to them directly to survey their thoughts on your product occasionally too. Ask directly for questions or complaints and be ready to resolve them when people reply.

Reward Engagement and Loyalty

As you put in all the work to increase customer engagement and loyalty, don’t forget to make it worthwhile to your customers to stick around too. Look for ways to offer incentives, such as special discounts, exclusive resources, or the chance to try out a new feature first. Your most engaged and loyal customers will not only keep using your product, they’re also the people most likely to recommend it to their friends too.

Collect and Leverage Data

Instead of guessing what your customers expect from your product or service, find out by undertaking a customer survey and analyzing customer data. Part of your plan for CX must include collecting data and organizing it in a helpful and efficient way. Ensure the data you collect makes an impact on the way your customer facing teams interact with your customers, and in turn on the customer experience, they deliver.

Strategize and Reflect

Develop your customer experience strategy and put it into action, but don’t stop there. Be sure to regularly reflect on how it’s going and be ready to make adjustments as needed. While your strategy may have been developed using data, you probably won’t get it totally right 100% of the time. Instead of dwelling on a failure, learn from it and move forward with a new plan.

Future of Customer Experience

As customer experience is predicted to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020, it’s safe to say CX is important and it’s not going anywhere. As you develop your CX plan and take action, keep the following essential steps in mind:

Personalize it 

As the focus on CX grows alongside technology and the kind of always-on connections people have come to expect, be sure to personalize your customer experience. Each customer wants to be treated as an individual. Avoid making them feel like one of many, even though they are.

Be proactive 

Add features, make changes, and provide help before your customers even realize it’s what they need. Instead of waiting for someone to ask, develop processes for identifying issues and tackling them before customers have a chance to notice.

Predict what’s next

Don’t wait on your competitors to figure out where to go next with CX. Your team should always be looking for ways to get ahead and predict the next best path. Being a step or more behind the competition will hold you back, while being the trailblazer will make you stand out.

Choosing the Right Customer Experience Platform

Once you’ve got your CX plan in place, you need a dedicated customer experience software to bring your plan to life. You need to find a customer experience platform that is intuitive, easy-to-use and lets you deliver stellar customer experiences.  Here are the essential features of a customer experience software that you need to look for when you’re selecting one for your team: 

  • Use an omnichannel system: If you’re supporting customers on multiple channels, you need to provide a consistent and unified experience across all channels. Your customer experience platform should help your agents view conversations coming in from different channels without having to excessively switch between tools. This way, your team can view the conversations your customers might have had with your team on different channels before conversing with you and offering an instant solution. With Freshdesk, your team can view conversations across channels from a single platform. This helps agents deliver a unified experience to your customers.

 

CX isn’t just for one department to tackle but is something the whole organization must take on. Freshworks 360 gives your team a 360° view of your customers with a customizable platform, integration options, and in-context collaboration. The right tool will allow your support, marketing, and sales teams, as well as leadership, understand your customers and take your customer experience to the next level.

Learn more about customer experience