5 ways businesses can refine CX today
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
Consider the last positive customer experience you had; how did you feel about the brand? Were you willing to return and make future purchases? Now recall a negative experience with a company. Did it impact whether or not you wanted to keep using their product or service?
The customer experience plays a huge role in whether or not customers will continue supporting you and allowing your business to grow. If you can provide an exceptional experience, customers will not only remain loyal to you, but they’ll recommend your company to their inner circles.
Let’s go back a minute and explore what customer experience means.
Customer experience (CX) is how customers perceive your brand after several touch points throughout the buyer’s journey. The collection of these touch points is the customer experience, which buyers may feel was good, neutral, or bad.
If you’re looking for results ASAP, check out these 5 ways businesses can immediately improve CX to help you win the long game.
1. Map out the entire customer journey
The best way for support leaders to understand CX is to take the journey themselves! Go through each touch point, walking in the customers’ shoes (from before they’re customers, signing up, onboarding, etc) and ask yourself:
Does the customer lifecycle look different from a user’s perspective than what you imagined?
Are there things you’d want as a customer that you find missing in the customer experience?
Act the part of a customer who doesn’t understand the product inside and out - what might lead to confusion?
Looking at the CX from your customers’ perspective can help you identify where the organization succeeds, areas for improvements, and how you can increase customer intimacy.
Once you’ve mapped out the customer journey, it’s time to validate it and make sure it accurately reflects customers’ experiences. One way to ensure accuracy is to invite customers to share their experiences in meetings or focus groups. Discuss the problems they faced and the process of discovering, choosing, and using your product.
Ask customers specific questions such as: whether you missed any touch points in the journey, what they want to achieve at each touch point, what challenges they faced at each stage, and which parts of their journey they feel are most important.
Now that you’ve validated your journey, you’re ready to put a plan into action.
Prioritize the points in the journey you want to address first
Brainstorm solutions with key stakeholders from the product, support, and leadership teams
Put in place a measurement plan to determine the success of your changes (more on this below)
One last note on mapping your customer journey: Once you’ve made changes, update your map so that all stakeholders know where you stand and what to focus on next. All stakeholders need access to the same information, such as why you’re refining your CX, what that entails, and how you’ll make it happen.
2. Keep your metrics in mind
As you walk in the customer’s shoes, it’s important to keep your support organization’s main KPIs in mind: Are slow responses resulting in dissatisfied customers? Are users giving your company a low score due to the agent's communication approach? What are the areas you want to improve?
To understand your company’s customer experience, you’ll need to hold yourself accountable with a few customer service metrics such as:
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) - CSAT measures whether customers are happy with the level of support they receive.
This metric also helps support leaders see how support impacts the customer experience. If satisfaction ratings are low, it’s a good opportunity to fix any pain points that may get in the way of a positive experience. If ratings are high, support is on the right track towards meeting team standards.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) - NPS asks customers to rate how likely they’d recommend your company, revealing how happy or unhappy they are with the CX.
NPS asks customers to rate their experience on a scale from 0-10 with responses falling into three categories:
Promoters: Customers who answer with 9-10
Passives: Participants who respond with 7-8
Detractors: Customers who answer with 0-6
A customer who submits a score below 6 wasn’t very happy with their experience. Using their feedback as well as some additional insights from their journey, support teams can assess how to resolve some of their main issues and create a better journey.
Average Ticket Severity (ATS) - ATS gives support organizations an idea of how different incidents impact support.
Categorizing tickets helps agents prioritize urgent tickets and respond to customers in a timely manner.
Here’s how a support team could categorize ticket severity:
Level 1= minor, Level 2= normal, Level 3= high, Level 4=urgent
From ATS, support teams get a sense of which kinds of issues they’re facing and can use that information to improve the roadmap, create more defined SLAs.
3. Clean up your call routing so customers aren’t just waiting on hold
Interactive Voice Response (IVR), that voice on the end of the phone that tells you to ‘press 2 for support’ can improve the CX by routing them to the right agent or solution. It also handles a lot of the heavy lifting in collecting customer information.
IVR prevents customers from waiting on hold for minutes on end, without knowing whether the person on the other end can solve their issue. Instead, customers can choose prompts that help them access relevant information, check order statuses, or speak to the right person.
Through an efficient phone tree, customers can meet their own needs without involving an agent. If a customer wants to make an appointment, IVR can take them through the correct channels. This customer just needs to answer the prompt and choose the next available time they can come in.
IVR can also save customers from having to repeat themselves by collecting important details like their name and reason for calling. This way, when agents pick up the phone, they already have all the specifics and can provide faster, more personal support.
Through IVR, customers can have a smoother experience. They know they’ll immediately get in touch with the right person to solve their issue.
Conversely, poor programming and confusing messaging can harm the customer experience and potentially make customers regret reaching out in the first place.
Remember the importance of walking in the customers’ shoes? Use that same strategy with your call tree to eliminate confusing or irreverent options. Then go back and reword conditions to make them more clear.
Personify your customer segments and have team members call support with different issues and see whether your automation directs them to the right department: Did team members spend too much time typing in several different numbers to get an agent on the phone? Are the options clear enough for them to know which buttons to press for the right agent?
Go through the system and alter any scripts that aren't concise. Remember to consider language selection as well so you can serve all your customers through this channel.
4. Use widgets so customers receive help the minute they need it
When customers need you the most, make sure you’re there for them no matter where they are in their journey. Even something as simple as a user needing to leave their current page to search for how to contact support isn’t an ideal CX.
Customers may get distracted from their original goal or become frustrated looking for contact information and abandon their search altogether. These frustrated customers may never come back to your business, or worse, may tell their family and friends about their less than positive experience.
Creating a smooth customer journey means not only considering where customers may need help, but how they want it as well. Contextual support widgets that you can embed anywhere on your site enable customers to receive help whenever they need it, using channels they’re most comfortable with.
Here’s how this can look with a modern support solution:
If a customer is on a product page and has a question, they don’t have to leave the page and search around the site for support’s phone number; they can use a support widget to receive help immediately.
From a widget, they can choose how to contact you (via email, chat, callback), search for the right articles directly from a knowledge management system (inside the widget), or use predefined options so they can describe their issue and agents can quickly get back to them.
5. Keep all external information up to date
By now, we know that customers want to help themselves (when possible) and don’t always want to go through an agent. Make their journey smoother giving them access to relevant, up-to-date information such as product updates, company policies, FAQs, how-to-guides, and more. This content library is often called a knowledge base (KB) or help center.
To run an effective knowledge base, keep these three tips in mind:
Write up-to-date content. This includes revisiting past articles to ensure your content is always on par with the latest product or service updates.
Create content with mixed media. Videos can be used to explain complex subjects while images can provide simple contextual support.
Measure your KB or help center’s performance. By knowing the most viewed articles, frequent search terms, and more, you can better create content to meet your customers' needs.
One scenario where a knowledge base can improve the CX:
If you see a significant number of searches on a keyword within your knowledge base, but no resource on the topic, a support team member can write a helpful article to address the search demand. By using knowledge base search data, support organizations can better understand content requirements and reduce the need for customers to reach out to agents.
Customers who can use a KB to quickly solve their issues again and again without needing to involve agents have more trust in your brand, which helps to build customer loyalty. And loyal customers who trust your brand rate their customer experience as positive.
Provide an exceptional customer experience
Customer experience is a long-game but that doesn’t mean you can’t make changes that will immediately improve a customers’ perception of your business. Consider any previous experiences (good and bad), you’ve had with brands. What made you feel support worked hard to meet your needs? Did you feel the company considered the customer at every stage in the journey? Are agents learning from unsatisfying experiences?
The following tips can help you immediately refine your customer experience strategy:
Consider any pain points in the customer journey and create a journey that addresses these issues and presents opportunities to increase customer intimacy—this gives customers a more positive perception of your company
Track metrics to maintain or improve quality of support and return back to them to stay informed of customers’ needs/wants
Tweak call routing by altering any messages that are confusing or long-winded so customers can meet their own needs or get to the correct agent without waiting on hold
Embed widgets so customers can seek help from anywhere on your site for a more convenient and comfortable customer experience
Update the knowledge base content frequently to reflect product changes, updated information, or new KB insights so customers can receive relevant information whenever they need it and help themselves without involving agents
To learn more on how to earn loyal customers, check out our other articles on CX: