What Is Customer Experience? (And Why It's So Important)

Learn about customer experience and why it's so important to the success of your business.

Written by: Jason Bordeaux
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Imagine Company A and Company B sell the same products at the same price. However, Company A consistently delivers an excellent customer experience, while Company B doesn’t.

Which one of these two companies would you patronize more? The answer is clear.Download Now: Free Customer Journey Map Templates

An excellent experience leaves customers happy and more likely to become loyal customers who spread your business through word-of-mouth marketing — which can help you boost revenue.

It is, therefore, no surprise why it’s essential to obsess about creating a great customer experience. Or, at least try to improve your existing customer experience.

People and products are the two primary touch points that create the customer experience.

Does a product’s performance blow you away? Are you delighted by the attention a customer support rep gives you to help solve your problem?

These are some general examples of the factors to consider when creating a great customer experience.

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Are customer service and customer experience the same?

While it might be easy to mistake these two terms for each other, they do not mean the same thing. Customer service relates to how you help customers solve specific problems. As such, it involves a single touchpoint.

Customer experience, on the other hand, involves every interaction a customer has with your brand (throughout their customer journey) and their impression of those interactions.

However, just because customer service and customer experience aren’t the same doesn’t mean they’re unrelated. Customer service lives under the customer experience umbrella.

Today, customers have the power, not the sellers, thanks to the internet. Customers have many options to choose from, plus the resources necessary to educate themselves and make purchases without outside help.

This is why providing a remarkable experience is important. Great experiences make people want to continue doing business with you. So, how can you measure your customer experience to determine what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement?

1. Analyze customer satisfaction survey results.

Using customer satisfaction surveys (which you can easily create in HubSpot or in one of the integrated tools like Survicate) regularly — and after meaningful moments throughout the customer journey — provides insight into your customers’ experiences with your brand, 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? For customer service teams across communication channels (phone, email, chat, etc.)? For sales? For attending a marketing webinar? And so on.

Analyzing NPS from multiple touch points across the customer journey will tell you what you need to improve and where you’re already providing an excellent experience while showing customers you listen 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 follow up on customer feedback — whether 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 you must learn from churn when it happens to prevent it from happening again.

Ensure you’re doing regular analysis of your churned customers so you can determine whether your churn rate is increasing or decreasing, the 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, social media, or a community page, allow customers to proactively offer suggestions.

While you might not implement all the suggestions you receive, it’s worth looking into recurring trends or requests that pop up.

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.

Doing so allows you to decrease the total number of tickets reps receive while providing a streamlined and enjoyable experience for customers.

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.

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Customer experience management is a fundamental component of a 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 consistently brings users more value — which is crucial for new and existing customers.

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 about how this process works, take a look at the next section for tips on creating an excellent customer experience.

How to Make a Great Customer Experience

To make a great customer experience, start with 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 customer’s entire journey. Consider your customer journey map (if you don’t have one, create one). This will help you understand every touch point you have with your customers. From there, focus on making each touch point 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.

customer experience, stitchfix

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This is simple: You’re given a return package and label already printed, and 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 customer experiences, 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

customer experience mapping template to improve client experienceDownload this 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 complicated to delete or deactivate an account, the given business may simply want to inflate its user metrics. Higher user numbers confirm to key stakeholders that their marketing strategies are working, when in reality they may be preventing users from leaving on their own.

When a company isn’t transparent, it can result from bad practices — and those practices translate to 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. Other signs of poor customer experience include but are not limited to lack of empathy, long hold or waiting time, and inadequate communication channels.

Exemplary Customer Experience Example

Ever heard of Pi Day... March 14th or 3.14? I’m a math geek, so I 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 — it 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.

customer experience, blaze pizza

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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. After lunch, I returned to my desk and told my coworkers and friends about the deal — some of whom made 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 bustling, I was greeted and served kindly and quickly by the team.

Third, I went to Blaze with my girlfriend, who ordered 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, retrieve 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 the usual price.

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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, building relationships through digital channels is becoming increasingly important. Companies that don’t have brick-and-mortar locations need to rethink touch points in their customer journeys to build brand loyalty.

If you’re a SaaS company or launching a website or app, here are a few details to remember when considering the customer experience.

Mobile Experience

If you’re online, you’re accessible via a smart device, which means customers can find your company anywhere there’s cellular or Wi-Fi 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 with an amazing desktop website, 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 omnichannel experience.

Usability

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 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 can achieve their goals.

User Onboarding

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 immediately.

Whether or not you’re a SaaS company, it can be difficult to improve upon your customer experience. That’s because you must 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 Tools

1. HubSpot Service Software

hubspot service software customer experience and service management tool

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HubSpot’s Service Software is a customer service platform that includes various features used for customer experience management. For example, the tool offers ticketing and help desk automation 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.

Price: Free plans are available. Starter plans cost $45 monthly. Professional plans cost $450 monthly. Enterprise plans cost $1,200 monthly.

2. Infobip

Infobip global communication platform for customer experience

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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.

Price: Pricing is available upon request.

3. Tealeaf

tealeaf customer management experience software

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Tealeaf is an analytics engine that monitors and evaluates online customer engagement and website interactions. It uses AI to identify recurring problems and provides insights into how you can correct them in the future. It offers timely updates to help your team fix bugs and glitches before they become a widespread issue.

Features like real-time data processing, intelligent data management, and seamless integration with other tools in your tech stack make Tealeaf a great CX tool for companies.

Price: Pricing is available upon request.

4. Satmetrix

satmetrix customer management experience tool

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Satmetrix provides you with a summary of your overall customer experience. It does this by comparing direct feedback, indirect feedback, and KPIs — 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.

Price: Pricing is available upon request.

5. WalkMe

Walkme customer experience tool

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WalkMe is a customer experience management solution for businesses primarily interacting 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 quickly get up to speed on the software.

With WalkMe, you get to build a satisfying relationship with customers from when they first become aware of your brand till they become brand advocates.

Price: Pricing is available on request.

6. Khoros

khoros customer experience management tool

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Khoros is a customer experience management tool that helps businesses monitor their social media engagement. It has omnichannel features that allow you to communicate with customers wherever they’re most comfortable.

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  • And more!
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Khoros has workflow and personalization tools that save your team time without sacrificing the quality of your customer service.

Price: Pricing is available on request.

7. Podium

Podium customer experience management tool

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If you want a simple, straightforward solution, Podium is a great option for SMBs looking to enhance customer experience.

It has features like live chat, text campaigns, and payment — all of which let you nurture new visitors to your site, communicate faster, and increase revenue. It also has feedback options to survey customers using NPS.

Price: The essentials plan costs $249 monthly. Standard plans cost $409 a month per user. Professional plans cost $599 monthly.

8. Whatfix

whatfix customer experience management tool

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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.

Plus, Whatfix supports a variety of APIs, so you can integrate it with other tools you use daily.

Price: Pricing is available upon request.

Create a Remarkable Customer Experience

Identifying key touch points along your customer 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 May 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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