Your customer is having experiences with your company at every touch point. Are you controlling those experiences?
Gartner defines customer experience (CX) as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels, or products.” (Full article available to Gartner clients.)
This includes every touchpoint and interaction across the full customer lifecycle, from digital encounters to product experiences and interactions with employees.
In other words: Every time a customer engages with your company in any way, they’re having a customer experience. The question is: How much control do you have over those experiences? And—crucially—has your company put effort toward intentionally crafting the experiences that matter most?
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Last week, we started our series on customer experience pillars with how to better understand your customer. Today, in part two, let’s look at what your business needs to consider when creating customer experiences.
5 critical questions to ask when creating a customer experience
Of course, each company has its own set of experiences that need creating or improving. That said, there are a set of shared questions that businesses looking to craft a better CX should ask.
1. What are the pain points or issues in our current customer journey?
In our first CX pillars post, we covered how to better understand your customers. This includes the importance of customer journey mapping and voice-of-the-customer (VoC) programs.
Completing a customer journey map helps you identify the pain points throughout your customers’ journeys, and a VoC program provides insight straight from the customer on issues or pain points.
This data is critical when considering how to build or improve customer experiences. Knowing what problems exist and their severity will clarify CX priorities and tell you where to begin.
2. How do the experiences of our different customer types vary?
Companies divide their customer base in different ways, be it segments, personas, or some other grouping. In part one of this series, we addressed the importance of creating user personas for your most valuable customer types. This is one way to consider how different experiences can cater to different customer types.
You could also separate customers based on where they are within the customer journey, such as dividing new and returning customers. Ultimately, the question here is: Is there a unique subset of your customers whose experience can be improved? And if so, how?
In the case of new customers, what are their first impressions of your organization? Is there a source of confusion about your processes? Do customers find it hard to orient themselves on your site or in your store?
Think about the differing needs of customers by group to create more targeted customer experiences.
3. Do our experience improvement ideas have who, when, what, how, and why components?
When brainstorming solutions, make sure that they’re targeted and actionable. Promises to “reduce wait times” or “improve communication” are too broad to be implemented effectively.
Instead, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are we trying to help? What segment, persona, or type of user?
- When in the customer journey is the issue?
- What are the issues and proposed, detailed solutions?
- How can we identify the actions, processes, data, and/or people needed to enact the proposed solution?
- Why are we pursuing this customer experience? Can we support our hypothesis that this will improve CX and associated components (e.g., customer conversion, loyalty, advocacy)?
4. Do we effectively communicate with our customers throughout their journey?
Think about how much information you customer should have and when they should have it throughout their journey. Are there moments of confusion? Times when your customer is disoriented? Setting expectations can improve your customer’s experience by providing clarity.
Let’s say your journey map exercise revealed that customers aren’t getting any email notifications that their order is on its way, resulting in uncertainty and impatience.
Now your organization knows it needs to automate confirmations and shipping notices. You can begin to consider what that email will look like and how you can use that interaction to leave a positive impact on your customer.
5. Do we have a big-picture vision of how these experiences fit into a broader CX strategy?
We’ll talk more about this in the last part of our series, but one thing to consider early on is how each of your customer’s experiences fit into your larger CX strategy.
If you’re actively working to build or improve multiple experiences, it’s especially worthwhile to make sure that the shift between experiences isn’t jarring or disjointed. Do you have a unified brand voice? Are transitions between channels (such as social media to your website) seamless?
One good way to think big about your customer experiences is to identify other companies with a CX you admire. Work to emulate the specific components that exemplify what you like best about their strategy.
When looking for inspiration, focus on companies in your industry (or a related one) and/or of similar size to yours so that your CX strategy is based on comparable customer numbers and a similar amount of CX-devoted resources.
The importance of continuous CX consideration
Building and improving customer experiences is a matter of diagnostics and solution implementation. The above questions should spark creative ideation to both uncover issues and find solutions, as well as figuring out what to tackle first.
Creating customer experiences is an ongoing process. Your customers’ journeys will change over time. You may attract new customer segments who have their own needs and motivations to address, or your best practices may shift and change customer expectations overall for certain interactions.
The key point is continuous consideration for how you can craft your customers’ experiences more effectively. Data collection to better understand your customers and their changing needs will help immensely with this. So too will building in a customer-centric culture, which we’ll cover next week in this series.
For help with your data collection efforts, start here: