With the first days of spring underway, the year is already in full swing! What changes has your business made this year to improve the experience customers have with your brand?
Last year, we saw incredible growth in Customer Experience (CX) investments and for good reason. CX is becoming a competitive battlefield for businesses of every size and industry. Unfortunately, many businesses still struggle to deliver great, well-orchestrated experiences. This blog highlights ten simple ways that your business can clean up your CX this spring.
1. Get all of your CX data connected
Most businesses struggle to connect all of the relevant data on their customer experience. The fact is that while many marketers are trying to connect data and tear down silos, this requires organizational buy-in that usually only comes with customer journey thinking. But it is crucial to get your data in order, or you won’t be able to deliver great experiences.
This doesn’t have to mean building a new database. Instead, it means getting a single view of customer, employee, and process data. To do this, a database project might work, a few years down the road. If marketers and cx leaders want to start using the wealth of data they have available already, they need to invest in customer journey analytics. Forrester’s report on Customer Journey Orchestration provides a great starting point to understand this quick-evolving field.
2. Identify customer pain points
Whatever condition your data is in, you need to understand what is going wrong in the customer’s experience in order to improve it. Identifying customer pain points isn’t easy – VoC data only reflects those customers willing to fill out your surveys and is difficult to use for immediate experience course correction. Still, VoC is a useful tool for some contexts.
How you can identify customer pain points more quickly this spring is by bringing journey analytics in house. By using the practice of journey discovery, you can identify CX gaps. Filling these gaps will have quick value and drive customer loyalty. For a quick change without advanced analytics, take a look at hand-off points. These are areas where tension are often highest, such as between sales and service, or marketing and sales. Ask targeted questions of your customers and prospects to get a sense of how the experience could improve.
3. Prioritize immediate experience needs
Customers are creatures of the now. Much like the squirrels coming out of hibernation, their immediate priorities are most concerning. Even if the squirrel should be thinking about what nuts to hide for next winter, they need to make it to winter in order for that to matter. Your customers are the same way. It is little use to spend the entire year planning a great experience that may not be relevant by the time you’ve completed the project. Worse, customers who have had negative experiences will have already left.
Prioritizing immediate needs does require a paradigm shift towards flexibility and agility. With your CX data in hand, marketers and CX Professionals need to highlight what is most immediately concerned for their customers. For a retailer, this might mean rethinking stocking practices so that customer feedback lets you keep up with the latest trends before they fizzle out. For an airline, it may be as simple as streamlining the boarding process, a major source of stress for travellers.
4. Connect channel activities and customer experiences
Customer experience goes far beyond the emails and messages that customers receive from your marketing systems or service resolution teams. Instead CX has to be viewed as part of the overall journey a customer takes with your brand. What your CX data will show is that customers have different experiences depending on the connectivity and seamlessness of interacting with your brand. One great way to start quickly is to implement a suppression campaign when customers are facing a service resolution issue. When someone is having an issue with guest services at a hotel for example, the hotel should not be bombarding them with ads for longer stays. By looking at where communications don’t line up with the customer’s challenges, you’ll find key places where you can create connections between channel activities and customer experiences.
5. Remove disjointed experiences
As you re-examine your businesses’ systems and structures, another area that you can quickly improve is by looking at the flow of information and communications. For example, many retailers send a welcome email after you sign up for their rewards program. Instead of making people wait to use a discount code, let them use a new-member reward right away in the store simply by being connected to their account.
For non-retailers, this might not seem such a simple task, but there are areas for improvement in all industries. On the service side, commit to single-point-of contact service resolution. Aside from escalations for technical issues, customers shouldn’t feel bounced around from place to place when getting help. This leads to a disjointed experience where customers have to repeat themselves.
6. Move from batch to real-time CX data
One of the challenges of any CX improvement is the systems you have in place already. Unfortunately, most technology that CX has inherited works in batch to save processing power. Instead of updating in real-time, updates push through every hour, six hours, or in some cases, once every day. When multiple systems rely on each other to work properly, this can create even greater slow-downs.
To address this concern, there are two approaches that show promise. One is to invest in one of the customer journey orchestration tools recommended by Forrester, but the other is to look at where slow-downs happen. Map out your customer journey and focus on how much time things take to resolve. Then you can begin planning how you will replace those tools and integrate better CX processes over time. Ideally, applying the two of these approaches together will result in the most improvements.
7. Grow beyond crisis communications
Having discussed the CX process with many marketers, customer experience professionals, and strategists, we’ve identified one paradigm that is holding CX back. Mark Smith, our President, terms this “disaster CX” as being when CX efforts center only on issue-resolution. CX needs to evolve as a practice beyond scrambling to resolve issues as they occur.
Ideally, CX teams are looking at every part of the customer journey, actively preventing disasters, rather than figuring out how to address them as they occur. It’s the difference between telling people their plane may be delayed and giving a chance to rebook flights earlier or later compared with waiting until the flight has been delayed and forcing individuals to sit in an airport terminal for hours. Think of where this might happen in your business and you will find places you can add incredible value.
8. Brand your omnichannel journey
One of the key themes of these ten items is that businesses need to use CX data to create smoother more fulfilling experiences. This can have an enormous impact on your brand. When CX teams think of the customer first, followed shortly behind by branding experiences, great things can happen. What gets in the way? Technology hasn’t been designed to ingest CX data and spit out experiences that fit your brand.
While this means more manual set-up on your part, it doesn’t have to take such a long time. The first step to completing this spring cleaning activity is to take a look at the CX data that you do have and compare that with a list of experiences and touchpoints your various teams have built out. By looking at customer emotions and reactions to various experiences, you can determine which ones fit your particular brand promise and adapt accordingly.
9. Measure ROI across interactions
Measuring ROI is never easy, but when CX leaders have to make the business case to higher-ups, it’s critical to be able to highlight how changes to the customer experience have impacted revenue, NPS, or other metrics. The first challenge is identifying the right metrics. Taken in sequence, more engagement (clicks, open rates), and higher conversion activities are positive indicators of CX success.
Measuring ROI is another place where customer journey orchestration can help. Because an orchestration system necessarily has a view into both inputs and results, it is easier to measure what is having a business impact when one of these tools is deployed.
Customer experience is a field that’s seeing rapid changes. This spring is a perfect time to revisit processes, build new ones, invest in the right technology, and center customer experience at your business.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can make incredible experiences come to life, check out our guide to real-time interaction management. It’s chock-full of helpful tips and actionable insights that let you advance the strategy and practice of customer journeys at your business!