People today put huge value on having positive experiences with brands. In fact, did you know that 73% of buyers point to customer experience as an important factor in purchasing decisions? And taking it a step further, 60% of customers are actually willing to pay more for a better experience (PwC, 2018).
This means the more positive of an experience you can provide your customers or members the happier they’ll be, the more they’ll advocate for you, and the more you can depend on their business (i.e. increased revenue for you). As some companies are truly excelling at delivering this, customer expectations are only increasing, which means delivering a premium product or service no longer cuts it and having a thoughtful customer experience strategy is now not just a nice-to-have but a need-to-have.
So taking a step back, what is customer experience technically? And how can you build your customer experience strategy?
Read on. We’ve got you covered.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience refers to the entire experience a customer or member has with your company or organisation, from the moment they become aware of you to their interactions with you after being a loyal advocate 10 years down the road (fingers crossed). It’s the journey they have with you across all brand touch points: social media, email, in-person, your website, your blog, your marketing materials and so on.
How to design your Customer Experience Strategy?
Think of building your customer experience strategy like dating, something most of us can relate to. Just like with dating, you first need people to notice you, then you want to establish an emotional connection, and hopefully, you commit to a partner forever. It’s not necessarily a scientific process but there are steps you can take to better ensure your path to success.
The following seven steps will guide you on how to create your strategy.
Step 1: Know who you, your brand, is.
This may seem like a “duh” first step, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses don’t have this basic foundation laid out. In order to connect with customers or members, you must know who you are, what you value and what you have to offer. With businesses that optimise for an emotional connection outperforming competitors by 85% in sales growth, this is not something to overlook. If you don’t already, map out the following to ensure you have an understanding of your brand:
- Mission: The purpose of your company or organisation for your customers/members (answers the who, what and why)
- Vision: What you aspire to be upon achieving your mission
- Personality: 3-4 traits you would use to describe your company
- How you want to make people feel: 3-4 ways you want to make your customers or members feel whenever they interact with you
Step 2: Know your customers or members.
In addition to knowing who you are, you must also know your customers. Back to the dating metaphor, you can’t exactly progress in a relationship without getting to know your partner right? You want to get to know your customers or members on two different levels: emotional and factual. By covering these bases, you’ll formulate your buyer personas and be better able to personalise your communications.
The distinction between the two are as follows:
Emotional knowledge: An understanding of their behaviours and the emotions behind those behaviours. Ask questions like...
- What makes them happy?
- What motivates them?
- What are their challenges that you can solve for?
Factual knowledge: An understanding of their demographic make-up. Ask questions like...
- Where do they live?
- How old are they?
- What stage of life are they in? Single, married, parents, etc.
- What kind of work do they do?
While every customer or member is unique, the goal here is to outline 3-5 buyer personas (or target customers/members). As you evolve, you’ll want to revisit and update these personas. HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool is a great assistant for this.
Step 3: Identify all your brand touch points.
Now that you’ve mapped out who you are and who you are aiming to reach, make sure you know all the ways in which you interact. This is a simple but necessary step to prepare you for step 4.
Step 4: Create guidelines for interaction across your brand touch points.
This step is about making use of all the information you’ve collected so far and standardising communications. Imagine if a potential new member comes across your organisation on Facebook, looks through some of your posts, then clicks on a link to your blog, and the interface, tone and general vibe don’t match up. That signals a red flag.
Considering common interactions with your customers or members and determining how to handle those interactions will ensure your customer experience is consistent, reliable and overall pleasant across all touch points.
These guidelines should be based on the consideration of three elements - you (the company), your customers or members, and the context - and can be technical and non-technical. It’s also worth noting your guidelines will evolve as your company or organisation evolve, and you should constantly revisit them as your business and customers grow and change.
Here is an example of a technical guideline from Skype. In this case, the guideline revolves around Skype’s logo (the “you”), making sure it’s recognisable to their users (the “your customers or members”), and how it should appear whenever used (the context).
Source: Skype Brand Book
The following is an example of a non-technical guideline from Mailchimp. In this instance, the context is positive, the customer is celebrating a successful moment, and Mailchimp wants to be there for them in the moment.
Step 5: Integrate these guidelines as much as possible into your CRM, marketing and sales software and implement quality control.
Once you have some guidelines established, you can use certain tools to automate how and when they are used. In HubSpot, for example, you can use workflows to trigger specific actions, email templates for accessing standardised communications, and chatflows to easily engage with your customers.
Additionally, it’d be worth scheduling periodic trainings with your team to review your company values, your buyer personas and these guidelines, so that your customer experience strategy translates from online to offline seamlessly.
Step 6: Capture customer feedback and regularly act on that feedback.
Make sure you are always looking to get input directly from your customers on their experience with your company or organisation. You can send surveys or request ratings to gauge their satisfaction and what you can do to improve. It also always pays to make an effort to communicate with your customers or members in person or over the phone to ask for feedback. The simple act of showing that you value their opinion will reap rewards.
Step 7: Track ROI
What’s a good sign of a successful customer experience? If your customers or members recommend you and if you keep their business. Net promoter score, retention rate and churn rate are all metrics you’ll want to be tracking.
By following through with these seven steps, you’ll be able to create a positive customer experience that enables you to connect with your customers or members, stand out from competitors and grow your business. Enjoy the journey!