Definition of Customer Experience Optimization
To understand customer experience optimization, we must first start by defining customer experience. Despite a seemingly popular belief, the customer experience extends far beyond a purchase, or a website visit, or even a customer service interaction; it encompasses your customer’s experience, every time he or she comes into contact with your brand, be it on social media, or watching a brand video, or – yes – while completing a purchase. Think of customer experience is the sum total of brand interaction – as a far-reaching, all-encompassing experience that defines your customer’s perception and opinion of your brand.
With that definition in mind, we can now tackle optimization. In short, customer experience optimization is a whole-picture approach to the customer experience – a unification of brand message and identity, across channels and throughout the entire customer life cycle. The goals are quality and consistency, for every interaction.
Examples of Customer Experience Optimization
Though standout examples of customer service make for great viral stories, one excellent interaction does not a brand-level customer experience make. Excellent, optimized customer experience is all about long-term constancy: consistently happy customers, over months and years.
Customer experience case studies demonstrate the long-term value of making your customers happy, while exploring brands with multi-channel marketing can give you insight into consistency done right. But if you want to mimic the best of the best, just look to Amazon and their customer experience, widely considered to be the best of the best, both by brand experience professionals and the experts who matter most – customers themselves.
Benefits of Customer Experience Optimization
Excellence in the customer experience is, inarguably, one of the most important factors in sales. There are myriad statistics and studies to back this up: For example, customer experience studies have shown that customers are five times more likely to make a purchase if they’ve had a great customer experience.
But on the flip side, 78% of customers have abandoned a purchase due to bad customer experience. Even more telling, 86 percent of customers will walk away from a company permanently, after a bad experience. And a recent Walker study found that by 2020, customer experience, more than price or even product, will stand out as the key brand differentiator.
So let’s put it this way: The benefits of optimizing your customer experience are increased sales, a boost in revenue, and happy customers. And if you don’t work to optimize customer experience? Expect to hemorrhage sales, at greater and greater rates every year.
Challenges of Customer Experience Optimization
There are many challenges to building a quality customer experience. The root of them all: the sheer size of the task. Your brand has likely expanded to at least a few online and offline channels, and you need to keep your message and experience consistent across all those channels. What’s more, you need to require responsibility, analyze metrics, and promote responsibility equally across all those channels. It’s a big task.
Best Practices for Customer Experience Optimization
Best practices in customer experience optimization are largely in response to the above challenges: How can you overcome problems and thus improve the overall customer experience? As you refine and optimize your customer experience strategy, keep the following requirements in mind:
- Effect a Multi-Channel Experience. To compete today, you know you need brand presence across channels. What you may not know is that your customer experience must be consistently good across those channels: Consumers should click away from Facebook with the same impression they have navigating from the website.
- Choose Responsibility. Who is responsible for a good customer experience? Ultimately, though the customer experience relies on many departments, your brand must have one person who is ultimately responsible for your customers’ experience with your brand.
- Focus on Mobile. If your mobile customer experience isn’t excellent, then your customer experience needs some optimization. Remember – 85% of consumers believe your mobile website should be better than the desktop site. Get on it!
- Require Consistency. It’s not about just your website or only your shopping cart. To optimize your customer experience, you must do so across channels: Website, social media, videos, shopping cart, chat, and phone – everywhere.
- Don’t Forget to Analyze. Big data is nothing without insight. Don’t just build a data collection; analyze your metrics and use statistics to figure out where your customer experience is solid, and where it can improve.
Start by establishing customer experience standards: How do you want consumers to feel when they interact with your brand, no matter the channel? Then, train your employees. This is, perhaps, the most important step; all the promises in the world mean nothing, if not put into practice. Be sure to invite customer feedback throughout the customer life cycle and over various channels, so you can establish strengths and weaknesses.
Track metrics and then analyze. Assess whether your customers are happy: are they abandoning purchases, or unsubscribing from newsletters, or unliking you on social media, or hanging up on customer service phone lines? And finally, adapt and refine your customer experience, until your results align with your goals. Lastly, never, ever stop this final step; the customer experience is always evolving, and so should your brand.