What is customer experience (CX)?
Customer experience is the sum of emotion your business evokes in the minds of your customers at every one of their interactions with you. It starts the moment someone lands on your website. It extends to your user interface, how you navigate them through your content, convert them into customers, and how you treat them when they come to your support for assistance.
Why is customer experience important
In the past, low-cost and unique marketing placements were attractive enough to bring customers to the store. But today, brands have to do a lot more.
Why? Because the customer is king.
Brands can no longer be negligent about their designs, language, and user interface or be lethargic about how their customer support works. The internet gave power to every customer out there. If they're not treated well, customers can harm brands.
A few decades ago, people didn't have access to convey their opinions on mass media. Social media platforms changed these dynamics and brought people virtually together, closer than ever.
When a brand fails to offer good customer support to one individual, the individual can take the issue online and bring it to the notice of thousands of other customers. It affects the brand's value and reputation among its present customers and those who're considering using the brand.
An individual customer can cause multiple ripples the brand cannot control. Ultimately it could result in financial as well as reputation/branding loss. So businesses have to tread carefully on how the customers are treated.
But customer experience should not be viewed out of fear. If businesses obsess over how they can make their customers' every interaction with them a pleasure, customers will, in turn, obsess over the brand.
Providing a committed customer experience will create a domino of benefits for businesses: A satisfied customer will share their positive experience online. It'll grab the attention of current customers and those interested in that brand. It'll increase the brand's reputation and value without them having to spend anything. Also, satisfied customers will turn into loyal spokespersons of your business. Having an army of loyal customers will reduce the cost of marketing, sales, and support operations for a long time.
The evolution of customer experience
Even though the origin of customer experience can be traced back a few decades, it wasn't cautiously practiced by businesses in their day-to-day activities, nor did it cover the multiple stages of customers' interaction with the brand.
They weren't excited about providing a great customer experience and viewed CX as the cost of doing business. Its practical application was limited only to the customer support teams.
How did this atmosphere change?
As the economy and technology boomed, brands started positioning their products as "Experiences."
Owning a product was no longer cool—the attraction shifted towards getting a great experience out of it.
Apple is the best example to explain this positioning shift. When Apple started selling its products in the late 1970s, it didn't focus on what it was selling. i.e., it's groundbreaking tech and sophisticated hardware. They focused on people's emotions, feelings, and positive experiences when using their products. It did wonders for them.
Slowly, other brands observed this positioning shift and started bringing in the practices that offered the best experiences to their customers. Now every brand competes against each other to provide the best possible customer experience.
Customer experience vs. Customer service
The terms customer experience and customer service are often understood interchangeably, but there is a sea of differences between what they convey.
Customer experience is about creating a memorable, helpful, and happy experience for your customers, whereas customer service is about providing assistance and solution to customers in need.
The other differences between customer experience and customer service are as follows:
- Customer experience starts from when they visit your website as just a prospect, and continues as they become a customer and even when they come to your support team for assistance. Meanwhile, customer service kicks in only when the customers come to your support team. So customer service comes under the broad spectrum of customer experience, and it plays a critical role in the success of your experience strategy.
- Customer experience requires businesses to be proactive, i.e., customers should be able to experience it even if they're not initiating any interaction with your business. But customer service can only be provided reactively. i.e., only after your customers ask for it.
- Since the goals of customer experience and customer service are different, they are also measured by different metrics. While Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer loyalty and retention, Churn, and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), etc. are attached to customer experience, Response time, First Contact Resolution (FCR), and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores, etc. are measured to determine the results of customer service.
What is customer experience management?
Customer experience management (CXM) is the process of understanding your customer's needs, expectations, and concerns and having systems to improve their overall experience of interacting with your business at every touch point of interaction.
Customer experience management touches upon all the customer-facing departments in your business. In large organizations, multiple departments take care of customers at various stages. Customer experience management should break the silos between those departments and ensure a smooth, uniform experience across multiple touchpoints within the organization.
Customer experience management starts with interacting with customers and figuring out where they face issues when using your product/service. Their feedback should be observed and analyzed, and the solutions should be rolled out as soon as possible to improve their interaction and overall experience.
Customer experience management [CXM] vs. Customer relationship management [CRM]
Another pair of phrases are also often misunderstood and used interchangeably—customer experience management and customer relationship management.
How do they differ?
Customer experience management is about creating how businesses want to be perceived in their customers' eyes. In contrast, customer relationship management is a business's view of its customers.
Let us elaborate on this. Businesses have hundreds of thousands of customers, and it'd be impossible to remember every customer's journey with the business and their interaction. Customer relationship management is vital in helping businesses record their customers' journeys and interactions with them. Customer relationship management helps establish and record the relationship with prospects and customers.
Whereas customer experience management is all about creating a uniform and better customer experience. Customer experience management aims to create a unified experience that would improve customer interaction. For customer experience management, businesses strive to understand user behavior, listen to their feedback, analyze, implement changes, and monitor the funnel.
What is good customer experience?
Good customer experience anticipates what customers expect at any interaction with businesses and provides a uniform experience throughout the funnel.
It understands customer behavior when they interact, analyzes where they find difficulties, and addresses them to ensure smooth interaction. It also creates adequate touchpoints for customers to leave feedback and ensure they're looked into.
Whereas if you make customers feel stranded in their journey, it confuses them about what to do next, which results in a bad customer experience. Bad customer experience leads to erosion of trust and loyalty, which would ultimately reflect in your revenue.
To provide an engaging, good customer experience, businesses need to have an efficient customer experience strategy. Having key elements in place ensures you provide a good customer experience.
How to make a great customer experience
Delivering a great customer experience is not a one-time process. To create and deliver them consistently, businesses need a customer experience strategy.
Customer experience strategy
Customer experience strategy is the process of understanding where and what issues your prospects and customers face when interacting with your offerings. It also contains the solutions you've in place to address the challenges and make the experience memorable for everyone. It doesn't stop here. A good customer experience strategy should also have processes to consistently review how their strategy is performing and improve when needed.
Key elements of customer experience strategy
1. Uniformity: Since customer experience covers all the touchpoints, businesses have to ensure a uniform experience to provide a good experience.
2. Simple but consistent experience: Businesses tend to add complexities without even being aware of them, as there are no guidelines to create a good customer experience. Keeping it simple helps them to implement it while helping their customers to understand and enjoy the experience.
3. Accessible and available: To deliver a good customer experience, businesses should anticipate where customers might struggle and make sure they have accessible means in place to contact them.
4. Personalization: Making the customer journey feel personal to the visitors is a challenge, as everyone's preferences vary. Analyzing visitors and how they interact with your business will give a better idea of how ideal customers navigate. Based on those inputs, businesses can personalize the communication.
5. Convenient: At any point, customers shouldn't feel their interaction with the business is a burden, and customer convenience should be anticipated and taken care of.
How to measure customer experience
To measure customer experience, businesses can observe the following metrics:
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS): Calculating NPS is a standard format. Businesses can use the NPS survey to calculate whether their customers are satisfied with their products.
You share a survey with your customers, asking them to recommend your product/offering to their friends on a scale of 0-10. Those submitting 0-6 are detractors, 7-8 are passives, and 9-10 are promoters.
Net Promoter Score is the percentage of detractors subtracted from the promoters. Usually, for SaaS companies, NPS above 30 is considered exceptionally good and denotes you have solid customer experience plans in place.
2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This is the total value a customer adds to your business during their stay with your business. It's calculated by multiplying the customer value by the average customer life span. The more the value is, the more your customers are happy about their experience with you.
3. Customer churn rate: This is the percentage of paying users leaving your product in a time frame divided by the total number of users you had in the beginning. The percentage of subscribers who left the platform divided by the total number of initial users is how you calculate the churn rate.
When you have a low churn rate, your customers are happy with your offerings and having a good time.
How to improve customer experience:
Obsess over your customers:There is no shortcut to improve customer experience. The first and crucial step is to obsess over your customers. Businesses need to find the needs of their ideal target customers, what they prefer, the pain points they face, and how they'd look for a solution to face their challenges.
By creating ideal customer personas, businesses can address the pain points prospects would face, which would help them provide a better customer experience.
Following customer journey: To improve customer experience, businesses can map their customers' journey with their products. After transitioning from prospects to customers, their maximum engagement will be with the support team. By following their journey, businesses can understand and resolve the pain points they face in approaching support for assistance.
Ask for feedback and implement: As prospects go through marketing and sales funnels, businesses can ask for feedback at every phase to understand where they could get a better experience. Later, they can implement those suggestions to improve their customer experience.
Apart from these, businesses should also educate their teams about the importance of customer experience and the benefits they get.
Can a tool help businesses improve their customer experience? Technically, no, but managing every stage of customer interaction manually is a nightmare. This is where Zoho SalesIQ, the Experience Intelligence, comes to your rescue.
Why is Zoho SalesIQ the best tool for boosting your customer experience?
Do you need a software tool to engage your customers and offer them a whole customer experience? Well, technically, you don't, but managing every stage of customer interaction manually would be a nightmare. This is where Zoho SalesIQ comes to your rescue.
Zoho SalesIQ, the engagement intelligence platform, offers abundant features to boost your customer experience at three pillars of customer interaction: marketing, sales, and support.
Features like Visitor tracking/Live view, Lead scoring, and AI-based profile enrichment for companies help you easily identify your potential targets. Using our proactive live chat, you can instantly reach out to them based on their interaction with your website and resolve any queries they have. SalesIQ also offers features like Chat routing, Departments, Messaging channels, and Canned replies to empower your support team to better serve your prospects and customers.
Here are some blogs to help you learn about the other facets of customer experience.