How a business delivers for its customers is just as important as - if not more important than - the products and services it provides. A business needs to reorient its efforts to meet customers' primary needs, such as safety, security, convenience, selection, or pricing.
In this article, we will review techniques that product organizations use to optimize their products and services for the customer experience. Customer Experience (CX) refers to everything an organization does to deliver superior experiences, value, and growth for customers. Common techniques include:
- Customer Journey Mapping
- CX Measurement
- Digital CX
- Customer Service
- Customer Loyalty Programs
- Employee Experience (EX) Optimization
Customer Journey Mapping
A customer journey describes the customer’s end-to-end experience with a business, product, or service. These can include many things that occur before, during, or after the customer experiences a given product or service. Examples include customer onboarding, issue resolution, or product upgrade.
Attending to full customer journeys instead of touchpoints can drive stronger business outcomes - relative to only focusing on satisfying customers at various individual transactions or touchpoints. In order to broaden its focus from individual touchpoints to holistic journeys, teams must do the following:
- Observe. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
- Design. Reshape customer interactions into different sequences when designing CX.
- Transform. Engage stakeholders in the company in order to transform customer journeys.
Focusing on the entire customer journey will help the business optimize the CX across all interactions from awareness to consideration to action to loyalty.
Measuring customer experience (CX) is important because it helps companies understand their customers' needs and build an organization that is focused on the customer.
Best practices for effective CX measurement include:
- Measuring the CX at the journey level, rather than at the level of touchpoints or overall satisfaction.
- Investing in hardwired technology that captures feedback on a daily basis from multiple channels and integrates this data, including survey results, into comprehensive dashboards.
- Cultivating a mindset of continuous improvement at all levels in the organization.
- Predicting CX to stay ahead of churn and dissatisfaction through predictive customer insights.
Investing in technology to measure and predict customer needs - as well as fostering a culture of continuous improvement to review and act on these metrics - will help companies unlock more powerful insights to improve CX.
Digital CX refers to elements of the experience that happen online or with the support of digital and analytics in order to facilitate interactions that are holistic, predictive, prioritized, and focused on value.
It is important for brands not only to react to customers within a single application but also to actively shape their decision journeys across a multichannel digital CX. Brands must optimize the digital CX across the entire customer journey from awareness to consideration to action to loyalty. To foster accelerated loyalty across the customer journey, five distinct but interconnected capabilities are important to build into the digital CX:
- Automation to streamline the customer journey (i.e. mobile deposit).
- Contextual interaction uses knowledge about where a customer is in a journey to deliver them to the most relevant set of interactions.
- Multichannel services are key to unlocking new sources of value, such as new services, for both the customer and the brand. This involves companies mining their customer data and insights to identify relevant, valuable services.
- Experimentation uses a digital CX that allows open-ended testing, and frequent prototyping of new services or features.
- Proactive personalization uses a customer’s information to instantly customize CX based on the preferences and needs.
Companies are increasingly using predictive insights to personalize and optimize CX via predictive CX platforms, which consist of three key elements:
- Customer-level data lake aggregates customer, financial, and operational data to analyze and understand the CX.
- Predictive customer models use analytics to measure key levers that influence customer satisfaction and business performance.
- Intelligent experience engines connect data signals and insights, reimagine the end-to-end CX as a seamless flow, activate the experience across channels, fulfill according to the customer's context, and test relentlessly.
Predictive platforms, which are shared with employees through API layers, link CX to value and build clear business cases to improve CX. However, they require careful attention to privacy and security
Customer service is the assistance and support that a company provides to its customers before, during, and after they purchase a product or service. It encompasses all interactions across the customer journey from awareness to consideration to action to loyalty.
Customer service can be provided through a variety of channels, including in-person interactions, phone calls, email, live chat, and social media. Customer service people support customers throughout their journeys with a company's products or services via multichannel experiences.
Customer service is about creating a positive customer experience that will keep customers coming back for more. A forward-looking vision for these CX will help companies deliver personalized services to meet customers’ expectations in a way that’s both strategic and experience-oriented.
Customer Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs are marketing strategies that reward customers for their repeat business. They are designed to encourage customers to continue buying from a particular company instead of its competitors.
Focusing on eight elements can help business optimizes their customer loyalty programs to perform better:
- Breakages or pain points
- Strategic partners
- Points + cash options
- Engagement success metrics
- Customer segments
- Personalized test-and-learn
- Incremental impact measurement
Employee Experience (EX) Optimization
Employee experience (EX) is important to CX because employees are the front line of customer interactions. When employees are engaged and satisfied with their jobs, they are more likely to provide excellent customer service.
Improving EX in service of building a customer-centric culture can have a powerful effect on CX. A customer-centric culture that empowers employees to create opportunities to ask for and act on customer feedback will help companies optimize the CX.
When optimizing EX, it is important to consider the following:
- A customer journey is often a lot quicker than an employee journey.
- Many employers’ interactions with their employees continue to be top-down instead of being a constant, two-way iterative process—as successful customer journeys have become.
Three building blocks are essential to optimize the CX:
- Define vision to build aspiration and purpose via company mission, brand promise, and a customer-centric product vision linked to business value.
- Transform business to discover, design, and deliver great CX.
- Enable transformation via new capabilities, mindsets, technology, data, analytics, governance, agile, and performance measurement.
When optimizing CX, it's also important to pay attention and avoid common pitfalls, including:
- Failing to link CX to value
- Taking a narrow view of CX
- Applying limited creativity.
By optimizing the customer experience, businesses can attract new customers, retain existing customers, and increase sales.
Source: What is CX? (McKinsey & Company)