Customer experience (often abbreviated to CX) is the combination of all interactions a customer has with your business, which have the power to make or break a long-term relationship. Good customer experience leads to higher customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention rates, while bad customer experience events can cost you valuable customers. Every single interaction with your customers – their personal buying history, every phone call, email, chat, video call and anything else – is part of the customer experience.
At its most basic, customer experience is how your customers perceive your business. If a customer has a poor experience, whether it’s a long wait time for a response, complex onboarding process, or any other issue, they’re likely to look elsewhere for the same product or service. But positive customer experiences can be built, and this is what your business should be working towards.
When aiming for a great customer experience, the best place to start is with the customer journey. This is the process each customer takes, from discovery to purchase to repurchase. A customer journey map can highlight key interactions across every stage of their journey. Incorporating qualitative and quantitative research, surveys and conversations with customers themselves can help to identify gaps in the customer experience.
A comprehensive customer experience strategy should include a focus on understanding and addressing customer needs, as well as anticipating their expectations. Oftentimes, understanding customer needs means listening to feedback and conducting surveys to get specific insights. For instance, you might use customer surveys to evaluate customer service or measure customer loyalty.
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Businesses must also understand the different factors that can influence the customer experience, such as a brand’s personality, how inputs and outputs are interacted with, and the omni-channel experience. The omni-channel experience includes a combination of interactions such as email, phone, website, and a mobile application. This is important as it allows businesses to listen and respond to customers in a seamless manner, no matter which channel the customer chooses.
Within the customer experience strategy, businesses should also consider their customer’s external influencers, such as their socioeconomic status and the external environment which can influence how customers perceive the product or service. Additionally, businesses should consider the customer lifecycle, which defines the stages of a customer's engagement with a business. Businesses should constantly look to optimize each of these stages so that they can maintain the customer experience throughout.
Finally, businesses must ensure they have the right technology to deliver a great customer experience. This can involve investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software and customer service tools, as well as marketing automation and analytics platforms that can help collect customer data and feedback. Combining these tools will provide businesses with an extensive insight into the customer journey, enabling them to create an experience that is tailored to their customers.
Ultimately, customer experience should be the foundation of every business, no matter how big or small. Businesses must treat customer experience as an ongoing project and consistently measure, analyze, and optimize to ensure that customers are always served as best as possible. As customer expectations continue to evolve, so should the customer experience.