How well do you know your customers? Are they loyal, or would they ditch your brand for a better experience tomorrow? These questions go to the heart of a customer experience strategy and why your organisation needs one.
What is a customer experience (CX) strategy?
A customer experience (CX) strategy is where you set out how you intend to optimise your customers’ journeys so their engagement with you is as relevant and resonant as it can be.
It covers every part of your organisation, including your product, marketing, sales and service, exploring all the interactions between you and your customers.
It should include online and physical touchpoints, such as email communications or how customers deal with you person-to-person.
Why do you need a customer experience (CX) strategy?
Good customer experiences are frictionless. They make it easy for your customers to achieve their goals, helping them research, buy and use the products and services you offer. A good customer experience strategy can help your organisation achieve its purpose and goals, too.
- More customer acquisitions
- Greater customer loyalty.
- Repeat business from returning customers.
- Better engagement among customers.
- Increased customer advocacy.
- Improved brand reputation.
- Lower marketing costs.
- Better brand engagement among employees.
Statistics show that good customer experience (CX) reaps the rewards. Research by Salesforce found that 89% of business buyers and 92% of consumers are more likely to buy from you again after a positive customer experience.
How to build a successful customer experience (CX) strategy
Building a CX strategy is best divided into stages that form part of a CX strategy framework, such as:
- Persona mapping – getting to know your customers better.
- Empathy mapping – understanding customers’ wants and desires.
- Competitor research – understanding who also serves your target customers
- Customer Journey mapping – understanding how customer sequence their actions to achieve their desired outcomes.
- Gathering feedback – checking customer’s needs are being met.
What are customer personas?
Customer personas are a tool that help you get to know your both existing and potential customers.
A persona is a detailed representation of a customer, including their motivations and what helps to drive their buying decisions.
It’s widely referred to as a ‘fictional’ customer representation but should be data-driven and evidence-based.
Creating a fictional persona
Personas should embody elements such as demographics, buying behaviours, motivations and pain points of a customer type or segment.
It helps you to see your target market as real people, so consider assigning a name to each persona, such as “Careful Colin”, to help facilitate brainstorming and decision-making.
How to create data-driven personas
You should base customer personas on data and insights.
Consider interviewing and surveying existing customers, or use your company’s sales teams and customer service staff as a frontline customer insights resource.
Gather insights into audience demographics, location, interests, technology, and the social channels they use.
Trend reports can provide valuable insights into new customer markets or analyse customer reviews of target competitors to gain an inside view of competing CX approaches.
What is empathy mapping?
Empathy mapping entails a deeper dive into your customer personas. It explores their motivations, needs, desires and pain points.
Benefits of empathy mapping include:
- A deeper understanding of your customers.
- A single visual map of your customer.
- Easy and cheap to create.
- Easy to adjust as you gather more information.
- Something you can share across your organisation
Speak to current or potential customers to create an empathy map.
How to create an empathy map
What they have in common is that they explore four key elements:
- What customers see – on your website, premises and social media channels.
- What customers hear – such as from review sites and influencers.
- What do customers think and feel – such as what a customer considers a point of checkout.
- What customers say and do – such as posting reviews or feedbacking back to contact centres.
How to conduct competitor research
Your customers are likely bombarded with messages from rival brands that’ll also have CX strategies in place. Reviewing these will help you identify aspects you can improve, and develop reasons for customers to believe in your brand.
Conduct a mystery shop with competitors, putting yourself in their customers’ shoes. What is the buying experience like? What tone of voice do their use in their marketing? What do customer reviews on sites like Feefo, Reviews.io and TrustPilot say?
Customer experience mapping
A customer experience map provides a framework for understanding how customers interact with your brand.
One example of a CX framework is Philip Kotler’s 5As Customer Path, which helps you explore five stages of your customer’s journey. The 5As stand for:
- Aware – How do customers find your brand, such as through social media through advertisements, recommendations, trade, or regional press?
- Appeal – How do customers understand your brand message and offering, such as by reading testimonials or marketing materials?
- Ask – How do customers search for more information, including from competitors, via email, live chat or phone?
- Act– How customers make a buying decision.
- Advocate – How customers recommend the company, such as word of mouth or posting a review.
Customer journey mapping
You can create a visual customer journey map, using information from persona and empathy mapping.
These capture different stages of a customer journey aligned to the 5As (Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Service, Loyalty), touchpoints, customer experience, business goals and teams involved at each stage of a customer’s journey.
You can use CX maps to plot your current and desired customer journey.
For example, a customer journey map in the travel sector may include all the stages a customer experiences finding, choosing, booking, travelling and experiencing a holiday.
For each stage of our holiday example, you’ll need to identify touchpoints such as:
- Finding a company website.
- Researching holidays, comparing destinations and features.
- Signing up for email communications.
- Communicating with a contact centre.
- Going through a checkout process.
- Post-sale communications, such as booking confirmation.
- The holiday experience such as tour reps, excursions, accommodation, dining and communications.
- Post-holiday experiences, such as incentives to review or book again.
For each stage, examine elements that impact customer experience, such as:
- Pain points – what issues do customers face, such as complex IVRs when phoning?
- Emotion – such as customer frustration in not being able to speak to a rep.
- Action – what a customer is likely to do, such as abandon the call.
By examining each touch point and understanding how the customer feels and behaves, you can design a better customer experience that fixes pain points and make the customer experience positive and frictionless.
Customer feedback – how to tell if your CX strategy is successful
So, how do you know if it works?
A successful customer experience strategy will show in your bottom line, but customer feedback is the best measure of success.
Specific CX scores you can measure include:
- Customer Effort Score (CES) – looks at how easy or difficult it is for customers to buy an item.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) – a customer loyalty score that reveals how likely customers are to recommend you.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSS) – measures satisfaction with your product or service.
- Time to Resolution (TTS) – how long it takes to fix an issue.
Regular customer surveys can help you measure the above, but you should also keep a close eye on review sites, social media channels, and other physical touchpoints.