“I can’t get no satisfaction:” these are words you’d like to hear at a Rolling Stones concert – but they’re pretty much the last thing you want to hear from a customer.
To retain your customers, to encourage them to spend more with your brand, and to attract new customers via positive word of mouth, you need to satisfy them – before, during, and after they’ve made a purchase with you.
This is particularly challenging in the digital world, where customer expectations are constantly being raised by innovations and where customer satisfaction is a moving target.
Yesterday’s outstanding CX is today’s standard CX – and tomorrow’s “meh” CX.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to continuously improve your CX (and CSAT levels) and create today’s “wow!” CX, both in line with and regardless of changes in customer expectations. And we’ve collected them in one handy blog. (That’s okay, you can thank us later.)
Step 1: Make CX a priority across your entire business
The customer experience encompasses absolutely any interaction customers have with your business. To improve that experience you need to be looking to instill a CX focus in every part of your business, including the parts that are less obviously customer-facing.
Because it’s not just customer service agents, salespeople, and marketers who do customer-facing work these days. Actually, far from it.
Software developers, for example, might not consider themselves customer-facing, but the updates they’re working on delivering are being used by customers every day. If they lose sight of the customers’ perspective just because they’re not having conversations with them, they do so at their peril.
And then there are processes which fall outside of marketing, sales, and direct customer service but which still concern your customers and contribute to their satisfaction. Your billing process, for example, needs to be really focused on making things as easy and friction-free for your customers as possible.
So take inventory of every conceivable customer touchpoint your business has and then work on improving those touchpoints from the customer’s point of view. Having these customer touchpoints worked out will help you considerably when it comes to the next step.
Step 2: Map out your customer journeys in detail
Convenience isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to satisfying customers, but it’s absolutely a top priority. Making a customer’s life (even just a teensy bit) difficult can lead to dissatisfaction, outright irritation, and ultimately churn.
Of course, no sane business would ever purposively make customers work hard to make a purchase or resolve an issue. (An error we’ve termed creating “custemployees” in our Taxonomy of Hidden CX Frustrations.)
Most businesses put customers in this position inadvertently as a result of overlooking an obstacle or gap in their customer journeys. Or they overlook the importance of their customer journeys altogether.
This is a HUGE MISTAKE. (You see how uppercase we just got?)
Customer journeys are super duper important – so important that they should guide operational changes, not vice versa. Mapping out your customer journeys in advance will help you avoid accidentally creating churn-ready ‘custemployees’.
However, as we explore at more length in our blog on customer experience mapping – even the most sophisticated mapping is bound to overlook some CX obstacles.
To understand where your customer journeys are excelling and where they are falling short, you need to go to the people who have the clearest perspective of all on those journeys as they actually exist outside of your PowerPoint slides: your customers.
Step 3: Ask customers how you’re doing (including the unhappy ones)
When it comes to improving your customer experience, you shouldn’t just ideate – you should ask.
Of course, monitoring key metrics around customer satisfaction can give you insight into how customers are feeling about your CX. Check out the blogs we’ve written on metrics to find out which metrics you should be tracking and what they can tell you about your customer journeys.
Sometimes, however, numbers don’t tell the whole story – and what’s needed is the specific individual insight that only a conversation with a customer can give you.
Since inbound customer conversations that aren’t about making a sale or solving a specific problem are rare, you’ll need to be proactive about this.
Providing customers with ways to reach out to you to give feedback whenever they feel like it is a great proactive step to start with. Put an always-on feedback button on your website/app – this will complement and extend the insight given by customer satisfaction surveys like NPS, which usually only appear once a purchase or service has been completed.
And don’t just wait for them to offer up feedback. Instead, reach out to your most loyal and satisfied customers to find out what they have to say about their experience with your brand. (The happier they are, the happier they should be to take time out of their day to talk to you.)
Focus on finding the micro-moments of pleasant surprise your customers have encountered when dealing with your business – then think long and hard about how you can replicate and expand upon these moments.
But remember: you’re not strictly looking for the good news here. Even your happiest customers have probably come across (and stumbled over) obstacles in your CX, and being able to share their concerns and advice with you will make them feel even more positive about your business than they do already.
And the same goes double for customers who’ve left negative feedback in the past – so reach out to them, too. You’ll need to tread carefully here, of course; unhappy former customers are less likely to participate in discourse with you (although many will be more than happy to tell you about how unhappy they are!) – but they may also have some truly relevant insights into your customer experience.
In any case, reach out! As well as potentially yielding invaluable insights for your business to improve its CX, the customers you engage with can get a lot out of the process, too.
If you get it right, this exercise will strengthen the loyalty of your already-loyal customers and – who knows? – may even bring some unhappy ex-customers back into the fold. You can make amends for your past mistakes, while amending your customer experience for the better.
Step 4: Make it easy for customers to get in touch with your people
Your CX is an indirect message to your customers. It both shows and tells them how you feel about them – and how they should feel about you. If you make them jump through hoops, you’re effectively telling them, “We don’t care enough about your experience to make this easy and enjoyable for you.”
But when you take the time to create a thoughtful, curated experience for them, it sends the message that you care enough to put some serious effort in. (And – if they’ve not yet experienced your products or services – that you’re likely to have put serious effort into designing those, too.)
By embedding opportunities for your customers to reach out and get help from real people from within your organization into every point in the customer journey, you’re letting your customers know that you care about helping them past any obstacles they face, no matter where they are.
Plus (and it’s a big plus), it’ll make your people happier. When connecting with your company is easy, it means your support agents are way less likely to encounter people whose frustration has been exacerbated by the support process. The happier your customers are, the happier your agents will be, and vice versa.
Step 5: Make your customer interactions feel as human as possible
It often feels like there are dividing lines in any customer interaction, in which a “company” interacts with “a customer”. The result of this division is often a combative conversation that leads to both parties being dissatisfied.
But what if you were able to dissolve those dividing lines, transcend those roles, and enable a more person-to-person, human interaction? What if your customer interactions truly felt like two humans speaking to each other?
Wouldn’t the result be interactions where both your customer and your expert are more likely to reach an outcome that left them both happy?
If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, we’re with you. And what’s more, we believe (based on our experience of what our solutions do for our customers) that humanizing your interactions can do more than smoothing the path to issue resolution – it can actually enrich and add value to those interactions.
Take support interactions, for example. They’re usually strictly about problem-solving. But problem-solving doesn’t have to be the only thing happening in those interactions. If the interaction feels sufficiently human, it can also help build relationships.
Relationship building is the secret sauce of customer satisfaction. (We explain why in our ‘5 reasons customer satisfaction matters (beyond the obvious)’ blog.) After all, nobody wants to feel like a commodity. They want to be treated like a human – by a human. They want to feel connection. So give them what they want.
Your next step: Guided CX
So there you have it – 5 steps to customer satisfaction that if successfully followed might even make 60s Mick Jagger proclaim “I’m actually fully satisfied and intend to leave you a 5 star review, thanks.” (Pretty catchy, eh?)
But that’s easier said than executed. This is a fairly short list, but there’s a lot of work to be done to put it into action.
Fortunately, there’s a CX solution that can help you get insight into and take friction out of your customer journeys, humanize your touchpoints and connect with your customers, person-to-person (and face-to-face, if you want) with just a click of a button.
Guided CX solutions connect your customers and experts in real-time, within your website or app – and are proven to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, retention, and value.
Want to know more? The next step is easy: discover our Guided CX solutions. We’re pretty sure you’ll be more than satisfied with what you find.