A brief guide to Customer Experience (CX) and how bloody important it is

“It’s as possible to measure a customer experience as it is to pick up jelly with a forklift truck.”

If I had £1 for every time I heard that over-used phrase at a marketing conference then I would constantly be giving myself the same £1 coin over and over again, because it’s only me that over-uses the phrase. To myself, over and over again, under my breath.

I’m not allowed at marketing conferences anymore, but I have broken-even when it comes to the exchange of pound coins.

However, let not the muttering weirdo in the corner let his antiquated view of customer experience tarnish your own optimism. Customer experience (or CX as we’ll refer to it from now on, as typing more letters than necessary is wasteful) is a genuine priority for all businesses and it is indeed possible to measure it.

Here I’ll provide a brief overview on the subject of customer experience (damn I forgot to abbreviate it again, so many wasted letters), primarily aimed at the beginner, before we get into more detailed posts on optimisation, case studies and measurement later in the month.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience refers to the overall quality of a customer’s relationship with a business across multiple channels and touchpoints from product awareness, social contact, the transaction itself to post purchase feedback.

harold and maude

Bear in mind that customer experience can not only refer to the entire ‘lifetime relationship’ between brand and customer, but also the quality of an individual experience over the course of just a single transaction.

You can refer to all of your personal relationships in this manner if you wish, just don’t expect any of them to last very long once you start tossing in the phrase ‘transactions’. 

What are we actually talking about when we talk about CX?

Delighting the customer at every stage. Exceeding their expectations. Delivering above and beyond the call of duty… All the stuff that separates you from other merely adequate, complacent retailers.

Yes you’ll have to work harder to deliver the above, yes you’ll have to instil a certain progressive attitude throughout your organisation, and yes you’ll certainly have to track, measure and test a damn sight more, but ultimately you’ll differentiate yourself from an increasingly homogenised business landscape.

This ‘customer delight’ can be surfaced in many different ways, and some are more applicable to certain organisations than others, but here are a few things you should be doing…

  • Listen and communicate with personalisation and relevance.
  • Deal with customer enquiries and complaints quickly, offering end-to-end resolution with the same member of the customer service team.
  • Be a human being. It’s an emotional connection that will foster loyalty and keep customers coming back for more.
  • For retailers, offer as many delivery services as possible to give your customers the most convenience (click and collect, nominated day, next day).
  • Offer multichannel and cross-device consistency, in both communication and service.
  • Be transparent and honest in your communication.
  • Make sure your website is as easy-to-use as possible, with clear navigation and streamlined checkout, all entirely optimised for every platform and device.
  • Make sure that the user/visitor/customer comes first in every business decision.
  • Uh… I like random bags of sweets or stickers when I open a package. Stuff like that.

CX is not just about measuring the efficiency of ‘key touchpoints’, it’s more about the actual relationship between your company and your customer, and as nebulous or as woolly as it sounds, this can be an entirely emotion based connection, you big old softy you. Heck I know that if I could give Threadless a hug, I would.

threadless micro ux

What are the benefits of focusing on CX?

Improved customer service can lead to better customer retention, higher conversion rates and hopefully an improved overall customer lifetime value (CLV).

Providing great customer experiences can help create loyal brand advocates, who may recommend you to all of their friends/anonymous follower-bots on Twitter.

Strengthening brand loyalty can then lead to higher spend. Brand advocates will often spend more, purchase more items and return to the business more frequently.

Okay, enough with the bombast, how do I ACTUALLY measure CX?

Well obviously tracking visitors using whatever analytics platform you prefer is a must. This will require a fairly astute data scientist to analyse the behaviour of your visitors at various points in their journey and work out how long people spend on certain pages, or bounce immediately away from others.

These pages can then be tested by changing certain elements using A/B or multivariate testing, then seeing if improvements can be made.

These are gradual, scientific approaches that can lead to major improvements to the user experience, but this needs to be coupled with genuine human engagement, i.e. actually asking someone what they think of your business…

Human interaction (I know, I’m sorry, I fear it too)

You could do some market research, although this can be a lengthy and expensive process. Or you could ask a customer what they thought of the experience via a post-visit email or post checkout survey, but who the hell ever fills them out?

Alternatively you could invest in some customer experience management (CEM) software. This is used to automatically collect and analyse customer feedback, delivering insights using various analytics and reporting options.

The CEM system will ask your customers a simple one or two question survey, the results of which can then be used to measure, understand and improve customer experience.

There’s also the Net Promoter Score. This is a customer loyalty metric based on one direct question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

And there are also various other similar methods all with equally intriguing acronyms, CSAT, CES, TAP… but we’ll cover all these in a future VOC post. (ahem, sorry, that’s ‘voice of the customer’ to you and me).

In conclusion…

It’s not as nebulous as I previously thought (or mumbled shyly to myself) it’s a genuinely useful focus that puts the person interacting with your company at the centre of every business decision. And that’s ultimately what you want yourselves right? To be pampered and nurtured by someone who genuinely cares about you. We’re all human. Just remember your customers are too.

And maybe don’t question why they’re transferring their abandonment issues onto your artisanal T-shirt ecommerce store.

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