Good customer experience is the cornerstone of any successful business – but how to improve it? Know your customers, know your channels, but avoid clogging up the works with useless information, says Sam Nanji, chief customer experience officer of ImproveCX
As the co-founder of a company that specialises in identifying and improving critical interactions, I am often asked for my top tips for improving customer experience. The following is by no means exhaustive, but if you take action along these lines you should see some real improvements in your customer feedback – and, as a consequence, your turnover.
1. Have a clear definition of a customer
Customer experience (CX) measurement must be validated beyond simple brand advocacy, which, while beneficial, can often create a misleading effect.
A precise definition of who your customer is will ensure that your customer experience ratings come from individuals who have actually interacted directly with your product or service rather than through secondary recommendations.
How many times have you heard that a book is awful or a film great, only to discover that it was only awful or great because a friend said so and not because of a direct experience?
2. Ensure customer experience data is actionable
There is no point measuring and collecting CX data unless this leads to actionable change. That might sound obvious but that’s because it is.
Many people hoard data in much the same way that some never discard real-world items that have lost their usefulness or which they couldn’t find even if they needed them. I confess, I am one of those people whose garage doesn’t house their car but ‘useful things’ aka junk. I suffer from what’s called “I might need that one day” syndrome.
But just as I should really throw that stuff away, I implore you not to collect CX data unless you really intend to mine valuable insights and action them quickly. The underlying drivers of CX quality will help you target areas of focus and show which initiatives are likely to have the largest impact on customer experience and, therefore, profits.
3. Determine which channels work best
Customers interact with brands across multiple channels. Not all channels are equal, so it’s crucial to ask customers which they used while engaging with your organisation.
For example, an interaction may have started on the web, then moved to chat or phone call and finally finished with a product being posted or even collected at a retail store.
Asking customers about their whole CX journey across all channels will provide insights into single and cross-channel experiences and enable you to deliver more seamless experiences across all channels. It will help you to identify which channel combinations score the highest and which require an extra focus.
4. Impact of emotion is paramount on CX
Customers’ perception of the quality of an interaction is driven by three core components effectiveness, ease and emotion.
In my experience, emotion is the greatest determinant of customer perception and drives loyalty and advocacy. And yet organisations tend to massively underestimate or, worse, discount its importance altogether.
Customer journey mapping is a great tool for targeting the emotional pain points that customers experience. The more your organisation can avoid exacerbating the customer’s pain, the better their memory of the experience and the more likely they are to advocate and score you highly.
5. Recognise geographical and cultural nuance
Some CX drivers are universal but their relative values vary geographically and culturally. What is considered an important CX factor in Europe may not be so important in Asia or America.
For example, credit card customers in the UK care more about transparency of fees, whereas in US and Canada loyalty is based more on how competitive the card’s fees are.