In the world of internet marketing, business owners strive to be noticed. They provide content that is authoritative in order to become trustworthy. They offer products or services that create solutions to long-standing customer problems. And also, they create user-friendly websites that take into consideration the user experience (UX) and the user interface (UI).
But there’s another ingredient in this seemingly endless stream of marketing necessities: the Customer Experience, or CX. While all of these features feed into the overall CX, it’s the end product of the Customer Experience that can make or break an online business.
What is the Customer Experience?
At its base, the CX is the overall interaction between a business and a customer. Naturally, there’s more to it than that!
As business owners, we want customers to interact in a pleasant, positive way with our brand at all times. For nearly all of us, customers have many, many choices when it comes to our particular niche.
The goal, therefore, is for customers to enjoy working with our particular brand so much that they become loyal, life long customers.
Customers, in the other hand, are aware that they have lots of options.
Perceptions and Interaction
Think of your interaction with during your last large purchase you made. How many options did you start with? How many times did those options change as you did research and evaluated (and re-evaluated) each option?
What did you eventually purchase? And most importantly, how did you feel when you walked away from that experience?
CX boils down to a blend of perception and interaction with your brand. You build perception through the information you share about your business, your philosophies, your authority in your niche, and the products and services themselves.
The interaction is, of course, the multiple ways in which a customer is able to “touch and feel” your brand, through web interactions, social media, newsletters, customer chats, and even the purchasing process itself.
Improving CX Throughout the Customer Journey
In order to understand the Customer Experience more thoroughly, you might want to tag along on the overall customer journey.
You may immediately think of the sales funnel, but the customer journey is much different. Think back to the steps you followed when you made that large purchase, as mentioned earlier. There were different steps to the process than just discovering a brand and pulling the trigger to make a purchase through that business.
The Steps of a Purchase
You started with a stage of consideration. You probably spent a significant amount of time thinking about what your problem truly was, and investigated many different solutions. Then, you saw advertisements, and you started clicking on ads, rather than vaguely observing them. You started making lists of possibilities.
Next came the process of evaluation. You did more deep-diving. You investigated the pros and cons of every option you listed in during the consideration process. Maybe you eliminated some options. Perhaps some new options appeared. You were on a fact-finding mission, as you researched every potential solution to your problem.
And then, at long last, came the actual purchase. Armed with facts and ready to make a final decision, you hit the button, signed the dotted line, and made your selection.
Purchases and Customer Experience
After the purchase, you might have told all of your friends and family members about how thrilled you were with your purchase. In that moment, you became an instant brand ambassador… or not. Perhaps the opposite is true. While you love the product you bought, all you can think about (and talk about!) is how awful the experience was.
That last step is exactly why the customer experience is so important. In order to create customers who want to endorse your brand, you have to create an experience that is enjoyable through every step of the journey.
How Do I Create a Great Customer Experience?
Now that you understand the process from a customer perspective, take a look at your website, social media, newsletters, every single touch point of your brand and business… as a customer.
First, consider how personal it feels. Does it feel like your business knows its customers? Are the touch points easy to find? Does the voice feel authentic and personal? Do you want to keep reading to learn more, or are you looking for the quickest way out of each page on the site?
Customers want to feel like you not only know your product and your niche, but that you know who your customers are. Everyone loves a personalized experience, and knowing who your customers are through demographics and psychographics will help you do just that.
Furthermore, don’t just welcome customers: make them feel happy and empowered. You might be wondering how you can possibly do that with just a website!
Customers want to feel heard. Allow them to give feedback. Create surveys that allow them to express their satisfaction. Encourage them with small discounts or free downloads, which will add to that feeling of value. Feeling valued inspired loyalty, and loyalty results in increased revenue.
The Customer’s Perspective
Always strategize from the standpoint of the customer. As you evaluate your website and the various customer touchpoints you offer, such as newsletters, chats, and videos, consider how it will benefit the customer at each stage of the journey.
A truly great CX encourages and inspires customers at each stage in the journey, instead of overdelivering in one area and fizzling out as they get closer and closer to the purchase point. Be flexible and consistent across all channels and touchpoints to inspire greater trust and confidence in your brand.
Lastly, make sure customers can contact someone if they need guidance. For many customers, no purchase is taken lightly, and they may want clarification or that final push to buy your product or service. Be there for them.
Whether that means a live chat, a customer service hotline, or responding to Facebook messages in a fast, thorough manner, the best customer experiences are those in which the customer feels fully prepared and confident.
As you read through this article, you might find yourself brainstorming some possible adjustments or edits you can make to your various customer touchpoints: and that’s great!
Remember that a customer experience is reflected in every facet of your business, though. It’s all well and good to have an ad that gains lots of positive attention… but it means nothing if the customer gets to your site and finds junk content that takes too long to load.
Every piece of the puzzle has its own part in adding to CX, so take your time when brainstorming so that you have the best chance of creating the greatest possible customer experience.