The importance of customer experience - a guide
Read on to learn more about how to improve customer experience, as we explore why exactly it’s so important.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience is a broad term that describes a customer’s interactions with a business.
Everything from the first website visit to interacting with a business online and returning as a repeat user all fall under the customer experience, or CX, umbrella. In the case of B2B companies, the customer experience isn’t measured at an individual level but collectively as a business.
Any point where your business interacts with someone trying to purchase your goods or services can be categorised as part of the customer experience.
Why is customer experience important?
If you’re a customer-facing company, and a considerable amount of your revenue stems from people making purchases, then it may be a good idea to ensure your customers are happy.
If you’re finding the vast majority of your customers drop out of the customer journey before making a purchase, poor customer experience could be to blame. It’s often necessary to keep up to date with the latest trends and practices surrounding good CX.
If you can eliminate any bumps in the purchasing journey, you may be able to increase customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and the number of product sales.
What is a customer experience strategy?
Customer experience strategy is a set plan designed to maintain, or improve, the day-to-day experience of customers who interact with your brand.
As with most strategies, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You might have to try several tactics to see what works best for you and your customers. Bear in mind that it may be beneficial that the experience of your customers and your CX strategy influence one another.
If you’ve recently made changes to your customer experience strategy, it can be helpful to pay attention to what your customers are saying (and what they aren’t) to get a sense of how you’re perceived.
Customer experience examples
We’re all familiar with customer experience, even if we don’t realise it. Examples can include anything from doing an online grocery shop, to taking your car for an MOT.
If you sell your groceries online, the initial customer experience is determined by your website. For example, this experience could include; the ease of finding products, how easy it is to understand and book a delivery time slot, and the purchasing process. From there, the next stage of the customer experience would be when the food is dropped off by the delivery driver.
If you own a garage and offer an MOT service, the customer experience tends to begin with the booking process, whether that’s online, on the phone, or in person. Every interaction with the garage, including any follow-up emails or physical mail, all contribute to the customer experience.
Potential barriers to customer experience
When looking at improving your customer experience, there are some common pitfalls to be aware of.
Poor site navigation and path to purchase
If your customers can’t access a product online, they’re not going to be able to purchase it. However, a good site is more than just connecting potential customers to products.
If you’ve encountered poorly made websites that were so slow to load that you left to find another site, you’ll understand how damaging this can be to conversions. In fact, studies have found that, when a page takes longer than three seconds to load, 53% of mobile users will leave the site . Bear this in mind when designing your website and the path to purchase.
Abandoning customers post-purchase
Whether you sell things online or in person, it can be useful to follow up with your customers post-purchase. This might mean sending out an email that promotes your latest sale items or posting a flyer with an eye-catching discount. Following up any purchases with personalised or specific marketing can encourage customers to return to your shop or site, thus sustaining a consistent customer experience journey.
Uninformed sales and customer service employees
For many customers, there’s nothing worse than unhelpful sales or customer service employees. It can be incredibly frustrating turning to a business for answers about a service or product and walking away unsatisfied. You don’t need to know everything, but you should be well-versed in your business to know how to work towards a solution.
Generic marketing messages
Relying on generic marketing messages to attract customers can be much less effective than personalised communication. While it might take more effort to ensure you’re addressing customers by name or making product suggestions based on previous purchases, that extra attention to detail can result in increased sales. Research has shown that 80% of companies have seen an uplift after using personalised marketing campaigns .
8 ways to improve customer experience
If you’re concerned your customer experience isn’t as good as it could be, there are always things you can do to improve it. Below, we’ve listed some examples that can help you change your CX for the better.
Use data to better understand your customers
Being able to understand how your customers interact with you and your site can give you great insights into the customer experience. Through free tools such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console, you can track and measure how your site is found and used.
For example, you could try tracking how many of your customers abandon the shopping cart. From there, you could then try to understand why they abandoned it, at what stage in the customer journey, and what you can do to improve their experience. Read this piece to find out more about using analytics to boost the performance of your business.
Learn from your own customer services and sales teams
If you already have staff that are customer-facing, it’s likely that customers have spoken to them about things they dislike or find hard to understand. If your customer service team has to repeatedly explain the same things, it could be a sign that the customer experience is confusing and needs some clarification.
Get boardroom-level buy-in to improving CX
Like a lot of things, having executive backing and funding can improve your project’s chances of success. You may find it easier to make substantial changes and possibly even invest resources into the necessary research needed to pinpoint issues in the customer journey.
Create customer journey maps
Sometimes it can be good to remind yourself of the journey the customer has to go on to make a purchase. Consider creating customer journey maps to help determine any unnecessary steps or barriers that might be putting off potential buyers. If you’re creating customer journey maps, be sure to include the various ways a customer can start their journey with you. From finding your site online to picking up a brochure - the more bases you cover, the more accurate your results will be.
Deliver personalised experiences to individuals
If you offer a broad range of services, marketing everything to a customer may overwhelm them. If you know your customers’ preferences and their purchase history, you can work to tailor the customer experience to them and even introduce them to extra or premium products.
For example, if you sell coats and a customer has a history of buying men’s coats, sending promotional emails on women’s jackets may be considered a waste of time and resources.
Engage across channels and devices
With almost 60% of people using social media  and four billion people globally using email , engaging customers across multiple channels and devices can be a smart decision for most businesses.
By diversifying your marketing channels, it’s possible to build up consistent and effective campaigns that can feel trustworthy and relevant. Find out more with this guide to digital marketing.
Invest in the right software and tools
Whether it’s to track your customer journeys or to try and understand how your website is being found, the right software can make your job a great deal easier. There is a wide selection of tools available that are designed to help businesses understand and improve the customer experience. It’s worth considering that the right tools can also involve implementing training designed to help your staff do their job efficiently.
Capture and act on customer feedback
Customer feedback can often be a good indicator of where things are going wrong. Consider using surveys, either online, by email or in print, to directly ask your customers their opinions. You can use this opportunity to test the water for new services, while the anonymity gives customers the chance to freely express how they feel. If you’re struggling to get responses, a gift or prize such as a discount or a voucher can be good incentives.
Customer experience management
For some businesses, customer experience is managed by a dedicated person or team, and implemented via effective strategies. Tasked with smoothing out the journey and getting the right messaging to customers, it can be useful to invest in a knowledgeable team to ensure the customer journey is well-optimised and efficient.
- https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/your-website-design-should-load-in-4-seconds/ (external link)
- https://mediareach.co.uk/The+Benefits+of+Personalised+Marketing%3A+Statistics%2C+Data+and+Examples (external link)
- https://backlinko.com/social-media-users (external link)
- https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/ (external link)
At Hiscox, we want to help your small business thrive. Our blog has many articles you may find relevant and useful as your business grows. But these articles aren’t professional advice. So, to find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance.