What is a customer experience design toolkit and why do you need one?

With growing customer expectations, the need to deliver an exceptional customer experience (CX) is at an all-time high. A study conducted by Forrester revealed that companies that lead in CX outperformed laggards by almost 80% - their customers are 7X more likely to make larger purchases, 8X more likely to try other products or services, and 15X more likely to spread positive word of mouth. 

So, even a moderate increase in your CX can generate huge gains in revenue. But how do you go about creating positive and delightful customer experiences? 

This is where customer experience design comes in. CX design is the practice of designing your products, services, and interactions with an emphasis on the experience of your customers. 

If you're looking to build a comprehensive CX design, you are in the right place. With this toolkil, you will learn how to assess your current customer experience, understand your customers’ expectations and pain points, and optimize the overall customer journey. 

CX design toolkit

Designing customer experience

The first step towards improving your CX is understanding how your current customers are liking each of their interactions with your business. Here are the three fundamental steps required for fully understanding your customer experience:
 

#1 Build your customer personas

A customer persona is a visual representation of your ideal target customer and is created using the data you have on your existing customers and some market research. Buyer personas are effective in helping you and your team see your customers as real people. 

Each persona should include basic demographic details, behaviors, goals, pain points, and buying patterns. If your business serves multiple industries, or targets different niches within an industry, then creating multiple buyer personas will help you understand significant differences of each demography.

customer experience design - customer persona
Data required

For buyer personas to be effective, you need to back them with reliable customer data that reflect your target market accurately. Compiling data in two sets will help you define and create your personas better.

Data set 1 - The first one is the profile of your buyer, which includes demographic and psychographic information such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Income
  • Buying behavior
  • Interests and activities
  • Life stage (such as new parenthood or retirement)

Data set 2 - The second set of data you need is buyer insights. This includes your customers’ feelings, motivations, and expectations relating to the area of their life that your product or service impacts. It should also identify your customers’ goals, doubts, and methods of evaluating products or services like yours. It can also illustrate what time of day your customers buy, under which conditions they tend to buy, and how long their buying process takes.

How to gather the data

Most of the tools that you’re currently using store customer information that can come in handy while building your buyer personas. Here are a three tools that you can use to gather valuable customer information:  

- Digital analytics tools such as Google Analytics will automatically track and store audience profile information every time someone visits your website. 

- Customer service software such as Freshdesk collects pertinent customer data every time a support ticket is created, edited, and resolved. Using Freshdesk, you can also create feedback surveys to compile data on customer expectations, goals, and purchase evaluation processes. 

- Facebook Audience Insights helps you gather information on the geographic spread of your customers, as well as some personal data. You can also view page likes, activity, household information, and purchases. 

All of this will provide a wealth of information about your current customers and others like them. Once you compile the data, a single glance at your buyer persona will tell you what your customers are interested in, and help you understand their buying habits. 

You can also give your persona a name, job title, and home to make it more realistic. To add on, you can describe who your persona is and who they want to become. Including pain points, goals, and any other characteristics will help you transform your persona from a list of characteristics to a realistic description of a person.

Digital analytics tool

Tools such as Google Analytics will automatically track and store audience profile information every time someone visits your website.

Customer service software

Customer support tools such as Freshdesk collects pertinent customer data every time a support ticket is created, edited, and resolved. Using Freshdesk, you can also create feedback surveys to compile data on customer expectations, goals, and purchase evaluation processes. 

Facebook

Facebook Audience Insights helps you gather information on the geographic spread of your customers, as well as some personal data. You can also view page likes, activity, household information, and purchases.

All of this will provide a wealth of information about your current customers and others like them. Once you compile the data, a single glance at your buyer persona will tell you what your customers are interested in, and help you understand their buying habits. 

You can also give your persona a name, job title, and home to make it more realistic. To add on, you can describe who your persona is and who they want to become. Including pain points, goals, and any other characteristics will help you transform your persona from a list of characteristics to a realistic description of a person. 

#2 Map the customer journey

A customer journey map is an illustration of all the touchpoints your customers have with your company both online and off. When you understand how your customers typically behave, it becomes easier to identify gaps in the CX design of your service and products. 

customer experience design - customer journey
How to map the customer journey
Step 1: Define the stages of your CX journey

To create your customer journey map, you need to start by defining the behavioral stages of your customers. Many companies define the stages slightly differently depending on their business and target market, but you can use these six as a strong starting place:

  • Awareness
  • Discovery
  • Evaluation
  • Intent
  • Purchase
  • Loyalty
Step 2: Identify the customer’s goal in each stage of their journey

Take stock of what each of your buyer personas typically want to achieve in each stage. For instance, in the ‘awareness’ stage they may be looking to read blog articles or other resources about your product or service. In the ‘purchase’ stage, they might be looking for pricing plans and offers.

It’s important to understand and document what each persona wants from each stage. This information will help you identify if you have the necessary CX design elements to support their wants, needs, and goals.

Step 3: Make a list of all customer touch points

Write down all possible channels or touch points that a customer will interact with for each given stage in their journey such as your website, mobile app, call center, social media platforms, and chatbots. This helps make sure that you’re optimizing your CX on all customer touch points.

Step 4: Take stock of all the activities that occur in each persona

Finally, compile a list of all the potential actions each persona may take at each of these touchpoints. This should include not only the end result but also the actions required to reach that result. For instance, if your persona wants to make a purchase on your website, what are all of the actions that will need to be taken to do that, and how many of them are there. If you use Google Analytics, then you can also gather insights about how users move from one page to another on your website using the behaviour flow report.

Once you’ve completed these four steps, you can assemble your customer journey map. To ensure nothing is overlooked in your map, you and at least two other people on your team should walk through the customer journey yourself. This will allow you to capture every possible action and step. Plus it will enable you to understand better how easy the journey flows (or doesn’t flow.)

#3 Analyze each interaction

Reviewing the reports and data you’ve gathered so far can help you identify precise points where issues appear to be cropping up. 

To help identify problem areas, ask yourself the following types of questions:
- Where are roadblocks appearing?
- Are people abandoning their purchases on the checkout page in large numbers?
- Are customers greatly preferring one channel over another? 
- Are people clicking on landing pages or ads and then not completing conversions or goals? 

Here are five important metrics that can help you gather insights into your CX and potential problem areas:

FRT - First response time

FRT measures how long customers have to wait before someone on your customer support team reaches out to help them. Your response time will usually vary according to your support source and your industry.

Measurement - the lower the FRT, the better.
 

AHT - Average handling time

AHT is a measurement of how long it takes for an issue to go from initial submission to resolution, including any downtime where a customer is on hold or waiting for an email response. 

Measurement - the shorter the resolution times, the better. 

Churn rate

Your churn rate is the total number of customers who have abandoned your company during a set window of time. If your churn rate is high, it’s a sign of CX design problems. You can help understand customer issues and pain points better by segmenting churn by channel or customer segment. For instance, is there one demographic group or one platform that has higher churn than the rest?

Measurement - average churn rates are around 6.12%, but they will vary based on business type, industry, market, and other factors.

CES - Customer effort score

The CES is a measure of how difficult it is to complete any given task on your website. It’s generally measured by assessing your customer’s reaction to this statement: “The company made it easy for me to handle my issue.”

Measurement - lower the CES, the better.

NPS: Net promoter score

This survey helps you group customers based on their scoring and illustrate how your customers feel after making a purchase, as well as identify your ideal customers. Customers who score a 6 or lower are labeled as “detractors,” customers who answer a 7 or 8 are considered “passive,” and those who select a 9 or 10 are your “promoters.”

Measurement - the higher the NPS score, the better. 

Improving the customer experience

Once you’ve fully understood your current customer’s journey and pain points, you can optimize your design to exceed their expectations. Here’s how you can go about that: 

#1 Optimize your user experiences (UX)

When it comes to customer experience design, particularly in relation to the online customer experience, you may hear a lot about UX and/or usability. Usability, user experience, and customer experience are three distinct areas, but they are all interrelated when handled correctly. And good usability and UX design can create a better CX. 

Here are five simple ways in which you can improve UX:

- Reduce the pop-ups, ads, banners, notifications and other annoyances on your website.

- Minimize every action sequence in your customer journey map. Look for non-value-add steps, such as irrelevant info being collected in forms, and remove them.  

- Incorporate instant, interactive support features such as live chat and/or chatbots. We will discuss these further in the next section. 

- Make it easy for customers to find answers to their questions by simplifying your site structure and using clear hierarchies. This will improve navigation and lead to better search results. 

- Use a resource knowledge base and a FAQ center to help provide quick answers to common customer questions. 

You can use A/B testing to measure the improvements of any changes you make, to ensure they result in greater usability. Another excellent method for assessing usability is heat maps. They allow you to see where customers are spending time and what actions they’re taking on your site. With a tool like Freshmarketer, you get heat maps with integrated A/B testing. 

#2 Optimize your CX 

Once you’ve improved your usability, and therefore your UX, it’s time to tackle the other aspects of your business that impact CX such as personalization, omnichannel support, and social listening. 

Personalization

In a recent survey, over half of all consumers said that they expect companies to always provide personalized offers and services backing the fact that a good customer involves personalization. 

Here are three effective ways in which you can improve personalization:

Segmentation

Although personalization includes providing customized service, products, or offers based on the characteristics of a customer, these characteristics don’t have to be unique to one individual. 
Instead, you can modify offers based on your customer personas and personalize the experience on a larger and more manageable scale. You can use segmentation to improve your CX by creating unique services, offers, content, and ad campaigns aimed specifically at each persona that you created. This way, you can be confident that each customer group is receiving messaging and support that’s relevant to their wants, goals, and pain points.

Machine learning

According to Gartner, almost half of all businesses are expected to use chatbots for customer support within the next few years. A McKinsey report stated that 75% of online customers expect a response within five minutes. It’s no wonder that chat is the preferred support channel of millennials. 

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning allow you to customize digital experiences for individual customers. Machine learning can improve CX in many ways, but the most significant way is through chatbots. So, incorporating a chatbot on your website or support portal can help you offer quick assistance and also cut down on your costs. 

Human interaction

While bots are becoming increasingly intuitive and responsive, there are a few situations that call for a human interaction. It’s critical to recruit the right people, train them properly, and reward them for stellar performance. Being short-staffed will cause delays in service and result in a less than ideal customer experience. 
Once you have the right employees in place, you can help them provide personalized service by supplying them with autonomy, and the right tools. For instance, you can supply your customer-facing teams with tools that help them access customer data and history easily. This way, they can offer the right personalized solutions, without forcing the customer to regurgitate information your employees should already know.

By adopting a helpdesk system like Freshdesk, you can have a 360-degree view of your customer information at all times. Freshdesk’s Customer 360 allows you to log each customer’s purchase activity and interactions with your support team into their customer profile. Teams can also add notes including any past issues, specific preferences, or ongoing activities that may require follow-up. This way, when a customer reaches out later, even if their ticket is assigned to a different agent, that agent will immediately have access to all important customer information. Information they can use to personalize their communication right from the start.

Omnichannel support

Seamless integration between sales and customer service is critical for optimizing your customer experiences. Customer touchpoints can happen on a variety of channels, even when your business is not actively involved such as, web, social media, print media, marketing campaigns, and third-party resources. 

To achieve consistency and hassle-free integration, you need to be capable of providing omnichannel support across all potential customer touchpoints. Your goal should be to deliver consistent customer experience regardless of the channel a customer uses. To do this, your CX design needs to connect all of your business’ touchpoints and channels. 

Freshdesk helps you unify communication across channels into one single platform. This provides a centralized source of the truth for your teams. Your team can see the entire customer journey and experience so far, no matter what channel they’ve switched between. Plus, this interconnected support allows collaboration among different departments and teams. 

Social listening

Customer wants, needs, and expectations are continuously evolving. If you don’t update your CX design to reflect these changes, design aspects that were once resulting in a positive experience could quickly create a negative one. To stay up to date on your customers and target market, it’s vital to listen to what they’re saying — both to you and about you, and the most efficient way to do this is with social listening. 

Social listening is a two-step process:

Step 1 - You monitor social media channels for any mentions of your brand, product, service, competitors, or any keywords relevant to your business.

Step 2 - You analyze the gathered info and look for ways to use it to improve your CX design. 

You can use it to set up social media streams that monitor conversations and keywords related to your business. Here’s a list of suggested keywords and topics to get you started:

Make sure you check all your social platforms, even the ones you’re not active on. Pay attention to where people are mentioning you and how the conversations vary by platform. This can help you personalize future ads and interactions by platform.

Choosing the right customer support platform

Once you’ve got your CX plan in place, you need a dedicated customer service software to bring your plan to life. You need to find a customer service 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: 

  • Omnichannel solution
  • Intelligent automations
  • Advanced self-service options
  • AI-powered helpdesk
  • Effortless collaboration
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Cutting edge integrations

With a robust solution such as Freshdesk, you get a 360-degree view of your customers across different channels of communication such as email, phone, chat, web, and social media. You can set up multiple self-service options, you can generate your own reports, collaborate across teams in your organization, and more.