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How to improve customer experience (CX)

11 min read
Businesses are increasingly recognising the power of customer experience when it comes to growing loyalty, lowering operational costs and securing long-term growth. But how exactly do you make your CX better?


Improving customer experience (CX) – the business case

Why should you improve customer experience? Why does CX matter?

Improving your customer experience (CX) could have a major impact on your bottom line. In fact, a moderate increase in customer experience generates an average revenue increase of £823 million over three years for a company with £1 billion in annual revenues, according to the Temkin Group.

An investment in CX can also reduce operational costs such as the cost to serve, according to Harvard Business Review. Unhappy customers are expensive, after all.

Check out the 10 tips below on how to improve the customer experience:

1. Empower your employees

This may seem backwards, but companies that win at CX start with their employees.

There’s an important connection between empowered employees and happy customers. Think about it – you’ve been speaking to a customer service agent for 10 minutes and you ask for a discount. The agent wants to resolve your issue, but they need to approve it with their manager. You’re already tired and just want to be finished with the conversation. It would be much easier if the agent could use their judgment, approve the discount (or take other appropriate action) and solve your issue on the spot.

Take action:

Find out what’s blocking your employees from delivering a great customer experience. Use an employee pulse survey to uncover any common pain points in the employee experience, and use those insights to review systematic processes such as contact center protocols and CRM software.

Consider your company culture, too. Are leaders, managers and employees all on the same page, with clearly understood shared values that support good customer experiences? Can you do more to build a customer-centric culture in your organisation?

2. Value employee ideas

Employees who are on the frontlines interacting with customers are in a unique position. They’re the rubber meets the road when it comes to delivering on your brand promises, and they’re equally pivotal when it comes to perceiving and communicating customer expectations, mood and perceptions.

So when that crucial connection suffers, so does your understanding of your customers, and their perception of you. Employees who feel valued are more engaged at work and more willing to help customers.

According to our latest employee engagement trends research survey, employees are two times as likely to be actively disengaged if they think their manager ignores them, so it’s important to let them know they’re valued by listening to their opinions and ideas.

Take action:

As well as running regular pulse surveys to collect employee experience data, consider setting up an employee suggestion box to create a channel for ad hoc feedback. Giving employees a voice can offer valuable insight.

Even more importantly, take action on the feedback your employees provide. Making a clear connection between what they give you and what you’re able to do as a result will underline how important they are to you.

3. Use tech to create breakthrough customer experiences

AI and machine learning are tailor-made for CX experiences. From chatbots that are there for customers 24/7, to natural language processing that allows you to understand what people mean in free-form text messages, the latest digital technology has made time-to-insights faster and new levels of personalisation and service both scalable and affordable.

The value of these technologies are reflected by the increasing numbers of big businesses using them. For example, Dominos lets customers order pizza through the Domino’s Facebook Messenger chatbot, and eBay helps customers search the entire eBay marketplace for the best deals out there just like a personal shopper. There’s no doubt AI and related tech can make life easier for your customers and allow you to get creative with your products.

Take action:

Explore the possibilities with AI and machine learning tools designed for experience management. Take a look at our listening tools and see how digital technology powers contact center performance.

4. Embrace an omnichannel mindset

Gone are the days of sitting down at a desktop computer to connect with a brand. With more than 50% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, multi-device digital journeys are now the standard.

But it’s not just about maintaining a consistent journey across different devices. Today’s CX leaders understand that customers use a range of offline and online channels to connect with brands, often switching multiple times, and that every part of the journey – however meandering and unpredictable – needs to be seamlessly joined-up and consistent.

Embracing omnichannel is one of the most important shifts you’ll make in your business thinking, and it’s one that goes hand in hand with prioritising CX.

Take action:

Find out how to develop an omnichannel approach

5. Personalise, personalise, personalise!

Customers today want personalised interactions. In fact, research by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers were more likely to make a purchase when brands offered CX, and 81% of consumers want brands to understand them better and know when and when not to approach them, according to Accenture.

Personalisation, where the experience adapts based on what you know about the customer, makes customer journeys smoother and strengthens the bond between brand and customer. If you’ve ever received a marketing email filled with recommendations and vouchers based on your purchase history, or been able to set up which content you see on a website from your user profile, you’ve experienced the power of personalisation.

Take action:

Here are some ways you can use personalisation:

  • Use data to personalize survey questions
  • Use geolocation technology to personalize based on location
  • Offer recommendations based on past purchases
  • Personally follow-up with survey responses
  • Adapt your website to offer dynamic content based on user preferences

6. Adopt a top-down approach

The best customer-centric organizations start at the top. CX and company leaders should model the importance of customer-centricity and set an example employees can follow with confidence.

Take Walt Disney, for example, who used to walk around Disneyland Park, observing and fine-tuning the experience by stepping into his customer’s shoes. Today, the Disney brand is customer-focused because the leaders model it.

Leadership exemplars are part of developing a customer-first culture. Starting from the top, values and behaviours need to be consistently adopted and acted on at every level of the organisation, from C-suite to shop floor.

Take action:

Use our tips to understand the value and impact of a customer-centric culture and allocate resources to make the customer a priority.

7. Use customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions throughout their interaction and relationship with your brand.

By cross-referencing journey maps with core metrics, you can get a better understanding of your CX and where there are issues and opportunities. You can use journey maps to improve customer experience now, envision your future customer experience, or drive organisational change.

Take action:

Learn how to plan, execute and improve your customer journey maps with our ultimate guide to customer journey mapping

8. Include open-text feedback in surveys

Customer experiences are especially powerful when they are expressed in a customer’s own words. By hearing directly from customers, for example through open-text responses on surveys, you can understand the thoughts and sentiments behind their actions and make more informed CX decisions as a result.

But although in an ideal world you’d have a 1:1 conversation with every customer, asking everyone what they think of your brand and listening to their answers would simply take forever. Until recently, businesses have been limited in how much natural language feedback they can process and use.

Fortunately, technology has provided a way to take open-text feedback from customer surveys and analyse it at scale, so that you can massively increase your capacity to listen. Tools like Text iQ use natural language processing to sift large volumes of written feedback and identify the big-picture patterns you need to know about. It can even make future predictions based on your data.

Take actionDiscover Text iQ

9. Improve your customer service

Customer service is the backbone of a great customer experience, and can be a powerful differentiator in the eyes of your customers. People don’t just buy from you because your product meets their needs – they buy because they feel confident they’ll get support when they need it. The data show that time and again, customers who experience great service buy more and stay loyal to brands for longer. For instance, American Express found that customers were willing to pay 17% more with a business that offered great customer service.

Delivering great customer service relies on a few different things. Your employees need to be hired, trained, coached, and supported with a view to growing customer service skills and behaviours. Your business culture needs to promote delivering on quality, not just on speed and efficiency. And the infrastructure your business runs on, including CRM tools and experience management platform, needs to be flexible, scalable, and easy to use.

Take action:

Some ways to improve your customer service include:

  • Offering multiple channels for support – part of your omnichannel approach
  • Optimising wait and response times – which could mean a strategy that mixes digital and in-person support
  • Closing the loop with customers – turning every experience into a positive outcome
  • Using benchmark metrics like CSATCES, and NPS to make sure you are continually improving

10. Implement Voice of the Customer programs

Voice of the Customer (VoC) is feedback about customers’ experiences with you and their expectations of your products or services. It focuses on customer needs, expectations, understanding, and product improvement.

Creating a program for capturing feedback and acting on those insights will help you understand your customer’s needs, create better products, and attract and retain customers. This is crucial for the success of any CX program.

Take action:

A VoC program needs to be closely aligned to your organisational goals and what business outcomes you want to achieve from listening to customers. Find out more about planning and executing a VoC program

Learn how Qualtrics CustomerXM can help you design and improve CX at your company