Think about the last time you had a really great experience as a customer — remember the ways that experience left you feeling.
Now do the same for the last time you had a poor experience as a customer.
A positive customer experience is crucial to the success of your business because a happy customer is one who is likely to become a loyal customer who can help you boost revenue. The best marketing money can buy is a customer who will promote your business for you — one who's loyal to your company, promotes your business through word-of-mouth marketing, and advocates for your brand and product or service.
The way you think about customer experience has probably had a profound impact on how you look at your business as a whole. This is just one reason why creating and obsessing over a great customer experience is so important. (Or, if your current customer experience isn't up to standard, how to improve it and where to start.)
First things first — you must understand what customer experience even is.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer's journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line including revenue.
The two primary touch points that create the customer experience are people and products.
Are you blown away by the performance of the product? Are you delighted by the attention a customer support rep gives you to help solve your problem? These are some general examples of what factors are at play when creating a great customer experience.
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Importance of Customer Experience
A remarkable customer experience is critical to the sustained growth of any business. A positive customer experience promotes loyalty, helps you retain customers, and encourages brand advocacy.
Today, customers have the power, not the sellers.
Who gave them this power? Us — with help from the world wide web.
Customers have a plethora of options to choose from at their fingertips plus the resources necessary to educate themselves and make purchases on the own.
This is why it's so important to provide a remarkable experience and make them want to continue doing business with you — customers are your best resource for growing your brand awareness.
So, how can you measure your customer experience to determine what you're doing well and where there's room for improvement?
How to Measure Customer Experience
- Analyze customer satisfaction survey results.
- Identify the rate of and reasons for customer churn.
- Ask customers for product or feature requests.
- Analyze customer support ticket trends.
1. Analyze customer satisfaction survey results.
Using customer satisfaction surveys (which you can easily create in HubSpot) on a regular basis — and after meaningful moments throughout the customer journey — provides insight into your customers' experience with your brand and product or service.
A great way to measure customer experience is Net Promoter Score® or NPS. This measures how likely your customers are to promote you to their friends, family, and colleagues based on their experiences with your company.
When measuring NPS, consider data in aggregate across teams. Since multiple teams impact your overall customer experience, you'll need a clear picture of performance — and that comes from multiple data points. For example, what is the NPS for in-product usage? What is the NPS for customer service teams across communication channels (phone, email, chat, etc.)? What is the NPS for sales? What is the NPS for attending a marketing webinar?
Analyzing NPS from multiple touch points across the customer journey will tell you what you need to improve and where you're providing an excellent experience already while showing customers you're listening to them and care about what they have to say.
With your NPS score, dive into your team-by-team performance to ensure you're performing well across the board. Also, you may choose to follow up on customer feedback — whether it's positive or negative — to connect with customers, deepen your relationship with them, and improve your retention and loyalty.
2. Identify the rate of and reasons for customer churn.
Churn happens — it's part of doing business. But it's important that you learn from churn when it happens so you can prevent it from happening again.
Make sure you're doing regular analysis of your churned customers so you can determine whether your churn rate is increasing or decreasing, reasons for churn, and actions your team may take in the future to prevent a similar situation.
3. Ask customers for product or feature requests.
Create a forum for your customers to request new products or features to make your offerings more useful and helpful for the problems they're trying to solve.
Whether that forum is shared via email survey, social media, or a community page, give customers the opportunity to proactively offer suggestions. This doesn't mean you must implement all of the suggestions you receive but if there are recurring trends popping up, they might be worth investing time in.
4. Analyze customer support ticket trends.
You should also analyze the customer support tickets your support reps are working to resolve every day. If there are recurring issues among tickets, review possible reasons for those hiccups and how you can provide solutions across the board — this will allow you to decrease the total number of tickets reps receive while providing a streamlined and enjoyable experience for customers.
What is customer experience management?
Customer experience management (CXM) is the process of surveying, analyzing, and enhancing customer interactions with your business. CXM monitors customer touch points and evaluates how you can improve the experience related to each.
Customer experience management is a fundamental component of customer-first strategy because it demonstrates a clear investment in customer needs. By monitoring and enhancing different touch points along the customer journey, your company will consistently bring more value to users.
And, that's important for new customers as well as existing ones. New users want to see results fast, assuring their recent purchase. However, if you don't add any additional value over time, these customers may lose interest and look for benefits elsewhere. CXM accounts for these customers and provides programs and features that prevent potential churn.
If you're curious to see how this process works, take a look at the next section for some tips on creating an excellent customer experience.
How to Make a Great Customer Experience
To make a great customer experience, make a customer journey map, create buyer personas, establish a positive connection with customers, ask for and act on feedback, create helpful content, and build a community.
The most important part of creating a great customer experience is understanding the entire journey a customer takes. You need to think about your customer journey map (or if you don't have one, create one). This will help you understand every touch point that you have with your customers. From there, you can focus on how to make each of those touch points a positive experience for the customer.
For instance, if a customer wants to return a product, make it easy for them to do so. A great customer experience during this touch point would be if you included a return shipping label or package for your customer, as Stitch Fix does. Stitch Fix, a clothing subscription company, sends customers clothes they can purchase. If they don't want them, then they return them. This is simple. You're given a return package and label already printed. All you need to do is put the clothes in and drop them off at the post office.
That's a great customer experience because it made the task of returning a product simple.
Once you've focused on creating positive experiences with your customers, then you need to evaluate your success. Ask for feedback and build a community. The more you're in contact with your audience, the easier it will be for you to create an excellent customer experience.
Featured Resource: Customer Experience Mapping Template
Next, let's look at some examples of poor and remarkable customer experiences.
Poor Customer Experience Example
We've all endured a crummy customer experience at one point or another. However, in an age of technology, one stood out to me beyond the rest, in an area you may not think of so quickly.
Blake Morgan wrote about Groupon and how difficult it is to delete a basic account — and as a result, how that creates such a poor (and frustrating) experience. Everyone expects to be able to go into an online account and deactivate or delete it if and when they choose to... right?
Morgan explains that when it's very difficult to delete or deactivate an account, the given business may simply want to inflate their user metrics. Higher user numbers confirm to key stakeholders that their marketing strategies are working when, in reality, they may just be preventing users from leaving on their own. When a company isn't transparent, it can be the result of bad practices — and those practices translate into a poor experience.
Companies that provide consistently good customer experiences make an effort to delight customers at every touch point — and offer transparency along the way.
Exemplary Customer Experience Example
Ever heard of Pi Day... March 14th or 3.14? I'm a bit of a math geek, so I personally get giddy about those little things.
A pizza company in Boston, Blaze, used Pi Day as inspiration to run a promo that offered a memorable and positive customer experience — they offered discounted pizza pies (get it?) for only $3.14 on Pi Day.
The promo was sent over email, but it was available in-store without having to pull out your phone or a coupon. The store I went to was packed, but, every employee I interacted with greeted me and thanked me for coming in.
In a city like Boston, where lunch options are plentiful, experiences like these matter. I had a wonderful experience that made me excited to go back in the future. I also returned to my desk after lunch and told my coworkers and friends about the deal — some of which ended up making their way over to Blaze.
There were a few other things to note about this experience:
First, being part of Blaze's email list was key. I never receive more than one email a week, and this one was highly relevant, with a day-of offer that I actually cared about.
Second, the ease of the experience left me with a positive impression. I didn't need to use my phone or print out a coupon code to take advantage of the deal, and despite it being incredibly busy, I was greeted and served kindly and quickly by the team.
Third, I went to Blaze with my girlfriend, who asked for a gluten-free pizza crust. Sometimes, when you have allergies or dietary restrictions, you get a grunt when your request requires workers to change gloves, clean the surface areas, and switch out utensils — but not this time.
Employees stopped for a few moments to swap out their gloves, wipe down the area, and retrieve out the gluten-free crust, and prepare it for use. They created a level of trust through their accommodations and transparency.
And for what it's worth, the pizza was delicious — and sometimes, customer experience is as simple as that. I ate the entire pi (ha!) in one sitting for less than half of the usual price.
While these examples give us a good idea for creating a positive customer experience, they're focused on more traditional, brick-and-mortar businesses. If you're running a SaaS company, you'll need to consider a few additional factors during your analysis.
Let's review those components in the section below.
Online Customer Experience Management
Online or digital customer experience management refers to the experience your business creates online or through a mobile app. As more businesses take their companies online, it's becoming increasingly important to build relationships through digital channels. Companies that don't have brick-and-mortar locations need to rethink touch points in the customer journeys to build brand loyalty.
If you're a SaaS company or launching a website or app, here are a few details to keep in mind when considering the customer experience.
If you're online, you're accessible via a smart device, which means customers can find your company anywhere there's cellular or wifi service. The experience these customers have should be nearly identical to those using standard desktop devices.
This means your website should have a comprehensive, well-working app. If it doesn't, your site should be responsive and user-friendly cross-device. There's nothing more disappointing than a company that has an amazing website on desktop, but it's cut off and/ or unresponsive on mobile.
Additionally, your app or mobile site should be as effective as your desktop version. You should be able to accomplish the same amount of tasks using either a mobile or a traditional device. Don't sacrifice features for your team's convenience. Rather, put in the extra effort and resources — customers will truly value an omni-channel experience.
It doesn't matter how effective your product or service is if your customers can't navigate their way around it. Websites and apps should be intuitive, making it clear to the user which steps they need to take to achieve their goals.
Your team can create a user-friendly design by running usability tests on your website or app. Usability testing evaluates how easy it is to operate your product or service. By running these tests before production, you can create a website design that's easy-to-use and ensures every customer is able to achieve their goals.
For some companies, customers need to be taught how to use their website or app. Not everyone is tech-savvy and many SaaS businesses provide onboarding to users who aren't familiar with their products or services.
Onboarding is the process of teaching new customers how to use your product or service. A representative from the company's customer success team works with the user to ensure they understand the value and purpose of their purchase. This way, customers don't have to go through a time-consuming learning curve and can get value from your business right away.
Whether or not you're a SaaS company, it can be difficult to improve upon your customer experience. That's because you need to make changes across multiple departments and ensure every employee is on the same page. This is where software can simplify the process for your team.
There are plenty of tools available that can monitor and analyze customer experience. Let's review a few options.
Customer Experience Management Tool
- HubSpot Service Software
HubSpot's Service Software is a customer service platform that includes a variety of features used for customer experience management. For example, the tool offers help desk and ticketing to help record customer inquiries, track recurring support cases, and more.
It also has customer feedback capabilities to determine NPS® for customer interactions. These features make it easy for your team to identify common customer roadblocks and roll out changes that help users overcome them.
Infobip is an omnichannel communications platform that enables businesses to build personalized customer experiences on any channel including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Live Chat, SMS, and more.
With a customer engagement solution, chatbot building platform, and cloud contact center, the Infobip platform makes it easy to engage, notify, and support customers at each stage of their journey.
Tealeaf is an analytics engine that monitors and evaluates online customer engagement and website interactions. It uses AI to identify reoccurring problems and provides insights into how you can correct them for the future. It offers timely updates help your team fix bugs and glitches before they become a widespread issue, too.
Satmetrix provides you with a summary of your overall customer experience. It does this by comparing direct feedback, indirect feedback, and KPI's, all in one report. This gives you a complete picture of the customer experience from the customer's perspective and how it relates to business impact.
WalkMe is a customer experience management solution for businesses that primarily interact with customers online. It has self-service features that empower users to find their own solutions, saving your support team time. It also has an extensive onboarding program so your team can get up to speed on the software quickly.
Khoros is a customer experience management tool that helps businesses monitor their social media engagement. It has omni-channel features so you can communicate with customers wherever they're most comfortable. Khoros has workflow and personalization tools that save your team time without sacrificing the quality of your customer service.
If you want a simple, straightforward solution, Podium is a great option for SMB's looking to enhance customer experience. It features live chat which lets you nurture new visitors who come to your site. It also has feedback options to survey customers using NPS.
Whatfix gives you more control over your customer-facing content and influences what information customers see and engage with. You can roll out site-wide corrections, update themes from a centralized location, and alert customers whenever changes are made to your product or service. And, Whatfix supports a variety of API's so you can integrate it with other tools you use daily.
Create a Remarkable Customer Experience
Identifying key touch points along your customers' journey, collecting customer feedback to improve or keep iterating on those experiences, and analyzing trends will help you improve customer sentiment about your company — and keep them telling their friends and family about your organization.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.