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StrategyMar 26, 2018

5 Steps to Better Customer Experience in 2018

Gabe Knapp

Recent Forrester data confirms that 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority. While some companies are making progress, others are spending significant resources in the wrong places and leaving their brands vulnerable.

As I reflect on some high-profile brand incidents from 2017, it becomes clear why customer experience matters so much. For example, when a United Airlines passenger was forcibly removed from a flight in April 2017, United Airlines lost nearly $1 billion in market value in a matter of hours. This is just one example of how a company’s brand is only as strong as the weakest element of its customer journey.

With this in mind, here are five steps to a better customer experience in 2018:

1. Look at the “End-to-End” Customer Experience

It is critical to view the customer experience from beginning to end, instead of just looking at isolated metrics or touchpoints along the way. It is easy, and misleading, to fixate on one aspect of the experience without considering the entire journey. To visualize this, the graphic above provides one example of an end-to-end customer experience journey for a retailer. It begins with shopper inspiration but does not end with a purchase. Rather, it is quickly followed by customer service and customer engagement to reinforce the value of the sale. By looking end-to-end, we can move beyond isolated touchpoints and provide a succession of great experiences that add up to an even better whole.

2. Identify Your Highest Priority Customer Journeys

While companies need to consider the entire experience, not all parts of the customer journey are created equal. There are some parts of the customer journey that drive greater customer satisfaction or willingness to recommend the company than others. It’s also true that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many people as praise for a good service experience. By conducting a review of your overall customer experience, you can quickly identify which parts of the customer journey drive the highest satisfaction or the greatest pain points, and focus on those first.

3. Prioritize “Moments That Matter” to Your Customers

Within your high priority customer journeys, spend time thinking about the moments that are most important to your customers. Brainstorm ways to not only eliminate potential customer pain points, but also innovative ways to delight your customers and drive longer term loyalty. According to a recent Forrester study, best-in-class brands provided about 17 emotionally positive experiences for every negative experience, while the lowest-performing brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative one. Design specific experiences to delight your customers, while also working to reduce potentially bad experiences that can lead to customer churn.

4. Identify the Right Customer Experience Success Metrics

Once you’ve identified the specific moments that matter most, you want to clearly define which key performance indicators do the best job of measuring this desired outcome. Looking back, many customer call centers were notorious for focusing on minimizing the ‘time per call’ metric, while paying less attention to whether the call was resolved in the right manner. However, data tells us that 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. This data makes it clear that resolving an issue properly is way more important than minimizing the time per call. Identifying the key customer experience metrics by which you will measure your success is one of the most important steps to maintain focus in the right areas.

5. Get CEO Buy-in and Cross-Team Program Leadership

It’s no secret that implementing customer experience initiatives can be very difficult. Many customer experience initiatives cut across the functional layers of an organization, including sales, marketing, operations, customer service, and others. This can make it exceedingly difficult to gain traction without top-down CEO leadership. And what’s more, few companies have chief customer experience officers. According to Russell Reynolds, just 39% of companies either have one or more senior-level executives leading the charge on customer experience. This underscores the need for CEO sponsorship and cross-team program leadership to keep customer experience initiatives on track.

wrap up – putting it all together:

There will no doubt be customer experience winners and losers in 2018. And while the above five steps may seem difficult, there is a huge payoff to doing customer experience well. In fact, it is six to seven times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. That’s huge!

And in this digital age, there are countless opportunities to craft digital and mobile experiences that scale beyond your current limitations of people and process. The critical part is making sure you are focusing your investment dollars on the right part of the customer experience to have the greatest positive impact for your customers. If you can take these five steps, you can improve customer loyalty and take your customer experience to the next level.

Interested in a quick assessment to identify the most crucial elements of your customer experience? Reach out to us here to learn how we can help!

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