Customer Experience Optimization: What Is It & Actionable Steps
Creating a good customer experience is a heavy lift for any organization. It requires constant maintenance and continuous improvement, a process usually referred to as customer experience optimization.
In today’s market, there just isn’t room for delivering a bad customer experience today.
Due to constant change in technology and consumer expectations, customer experience is in perpetual evolution. This means you’re never really “done” optimizing your customer experience — it’s an ongoing process. Every business needs to regularly revisit what it means to have an “optimized” customer experience.
What is Customer Experience Optimization?
Customer experience optimization (CXO) is the ongoing process of enhancing all of your customer touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Customer experience optimization aims to create positive and valuable experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations. When CXO is done right, customers are happier and more loyal, and they will advocate for your brand.
Customer experience can feel nebulous, because it’s ultimately about your customer’s perception of how your company treats them. Every customer who encounters your brand has their own perception of your business, and that perception affects their behavior with your service or product.
A customer who associates negative experiences with your brand is less likely to become a loyal customer. In contrast, a customer who has had a positive experience with your brand is more likely to be a long-time satisfied customer.
So how do you shape the perception customers have of your business? How do you impact customer behavior?
Let’s start by looking at the 4 pillars of customer experience optimization.
4 pillars of CXO
The 4 pillars of Customer Experience Optimization are:
- Personalization: Tailoring experiences to individual customer needs.
- Consistency: Ensuring uniform experience across all touchpoints.
- Responsiveness: Quick and effective responses to questions and feedback.
- Accessibility: Ease of interaction across various channels.
Focusing on each of these components is a great start to building a better (more optimized) customer experience. Let’s look at each of these more closely.
Adobe reported that 67% of customers want a personalized experience .
The one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience is no longer an option. Customers come to a business from various backgrounds, with different types of problems, and with various (but often high) expectations.
That’s why creating a personalized experience is a must to be competitive in today’s business landscape. A personalized experience helps build trust and increases customer engagement, which increases customer loyalty. You need to understand who your customers are and what they need so that you can create an experience that resonates with them.
We’ve all been here: we’re on the phone with a support agent only to find we’re getting transferred to another agent for help. The next agent answers the phone, and we find ourselves explaining our problem again.
Or maybe you’re stuck with a product, so search Google for some help documentation — only to find information that contradicts what you learned during the sales process.
Either scenario is frustrating, and both illustrate a lack of consistency in the customer journey.
Customer-facing team members must be well-trained and equipped with the right tools and information at the right time to deliver a consistent customer experience. Web pages and other resources should contain up-to-date information without discrepancies that may confuse customers. Designers and writers should be trained and have access to your company style guide to ensure any customer-facing graphics or content are true to your company’s brand.
Consistency is hard to manage across dozens or hundreds of touchpoints, but it’s a critical part of customer experience optimization. It’s more than how you engage customers. Consistency across the entire customer journey makes customers more confident in your brand. The more confidence your customers have, the more trust you will build with them.
Consumer expectations evolve alongside the evolution of technology. You could even say that our patience has plummeted as we become more technologically dependent. When things go wrong or when we have a question, we want an answer quickly.
It is, after all, what we expect.
A Forrester study reported that 77% of consumers say that valuing their time is the number one thing companies can do to provide a great online customer experience. To be responsive, companies — and the teams within those companies — must be equipped with the right resources and technology.
If you have customers all around the world, that might mean offering 24/7 support. Or it might mean implementing an AI-powered chatbot that’s always available to handle your most common customer inquiries.
Start by tracking your response time and other time-based customer service KPIs so you have an idea of where you’re at today, then work to improve it over time.
In addition to fast responses, customers want an effortless experience when it comes to using your product and finding help. Customers today want a seamless user experience and an omnichannel support experience.
Removing friction from the customer experience will help decrease the effort required for customers to get their problems solved, which leaves room for increasing customer satisfaction.
Simple tactics like making sure it’s easy to find your support team’s contact information or embedding help guides within your product go a long way to making your company seem more accessible.
Why customer experience optimization is important
Optimizing the customer experience will help your business grow.
Delivering a great and consistent experience is something prospective customers will recognize. They are also likely to tell people about their experiences, which can exponentially increase your brand’s awareness and, ultimately, your growth rate.
Even better, Deloitte’s research found that customers who have a positive experience are likely to spend 140% more than customers who have negative experiences. That’s good news for your bottom line.
A good customer experience will also increase engagement from existing customers. No one wants to use a product that’s difficult to use or that comes with a poor customer service experience. Customers will be more likely to use your product more when the experience meets or exceeds their expectations.
In short, optimizing your customer experience will retain existing customers and bring in new customers.
Challenges of customer experience optimization
Optimizing the customer experience is incredibly valuable, but it comes with challenges. Here are obstacles you should look out for as you begin your customer experience optimization journey.
Accessing the right data
It’s hard to optimize your customer experience without accurate data about your customers. Unfortunately, many CX leaders find it difficult to capture or access the data they need.
To overcome this challenge, you’ll need to work closely with your engineering or data teams. If your organization already uses tools like Tableau or Looker, you may be able to set up dashboards or reports that make accessing and analyzing data far easier.
Giving up on your optimization efforts
CXO is not a one-time thing. The ongoing need to optimize the customer experience is a challenge in itself. Companies must be invested in optimizing the customer experience all the time. It’s one of the cost of having a business in today’s world.
As your product or service changes, your customers’ expectations and needs will also change. Don’t set it and forget it. Empower a team or a person to own the customer experience and continually act on opportunities to improve it.
Choosing the wrong tools
You’ll need tools and systems to build and maintain a great customer experience. Choosing the wrong technology will only make this difficult task harder.
For example, you might choose a tool that serves your support team’s needs well, but fail to consider how it integrates with your data visualization tool or the CRM your sales team is using. Because having a clear view of your customer’s holistic experience with your brand is important, this would be a painful misstep that would require a lot of time or money to correct.
When choosing CX tools, involve stakeholders from other business teams to ensure you’re accurately understanding how they’ll interact with your entire tool stack.
7 tips for optimizing the customer experience
Now let’s look at some specific ways you can optimize your customer experience.
Create a customer journey map
A great customer experience starts with understanding as much as you can about your customers . A good way to start learning about your customers is to map out their journey with your brand by creating a customer journey map, which is a visual representation of the ways they interact with you. A good journey map also highlights your customers’ needs and expectations at each point of the journey. Once you’ve mapped out every customer touchpoint, you’re able to optimize the experience at each point.
In addition to a customer journey map, you can use customer data to learn more about your customers. Quantitative data like purchase details, geographical location, and industry type give you details about customers so you can segment customers and personalize their experience.
Qualitative data, like customer feedback and customer support conversations, help paint a fuller picture of your customers. Combining both types of data enables you to create both product and support experiences leads that are optimized to your customers — not to some generic avatar or audience that isn’t buying from your business.
Understand purchase motives
Your customers are hoping to “hire” your product to do a job for them. Do you know the job your customers are looking for your product or service to do for them? By understanding the pain points your customers are facing, you gain a deeper understanding of their purchase motives — the reason they bought your product. You can uncover these motives by using the Jobs to Be Done framework and asking questions like:
- When using our product, what’s the final outcome you’re hoping for?
- Why did you choose our product over other competitors?
- If our product wasn’t available to you, what would you do instead?
Understanding purchase motives enables you to guide your customers to that “aha” moment of achieving their goal faster, creating a more powerful experience from the get-go.
Create a personalized experience
With qualitative and quantitative data and an understanding of the customer’s purchase motives, you can craft a unique and personalized experience that resonates with your customers.
Simple ways to personalize your customer experience include:
- Using your customers’ names in your product and in your communications with them, including your canned responses .
- Making it easy for support agents to review past conversations with each customer.
- Soliciting customer feedback and letting them know once you’ve acted on it.
There’s plenty more you can do to personalize your customer experience and create meaningful customer connections.
As we mentioned earlier, customer experience optimization is looking at every touchpoint your customers have with your product or service. A touchpoint can be many different things, including any web page on the internet related to your company.
So ask yourself:
- When you search Google for a common question about your product, what web pages are showed first?
- Do you have old, outdated web properties showing up?
- Is your help center easy to read on a mobile device?
- Is your sales team using the most recent version of your company sales deck?
Have a plan in place to maintain your customer-facing content and ensure you’re delivering consistent, up-to-date, and valuable information.
Experimentation and personalization are a powerful combination when it comes to customer experience optimization. You never know exactly how a change will affect your customer experience, so run experiments to see how different approaches to personalization impact things like customer satisfaction or retention.
For example, you can experiment with two different onboarding processes or different types of messaging. If you try two different formats in your onboarding emails, which one has the higher open and click-through rates?
It’s important to deliver a consistent experience across all customer-facing channels. Giving customers a consistent experience sets clear expectations for them.
For instance, a consistent tone of voice across your emails, chatbot, and help center helps customers know who they’re talking to. Clear policies help them know what to expect when working with you. Consistent response times enable customers to know you’ll follow through on your promises.
Being consistent requires a good amount of planning and disciplined execution. Your customer journey map will help you identify where you can inject consistency throughout the entire customer experience.
Optimizing your customer experience is a necessity
We’ve seen a massive shift over the last ten years. Nowadays, it seems like every company is claiming that they’re “customer-centric.” It’s no longer enough to just make the sale — you have to make the sale and keep customers coming back for more. This is largely due to the transition to a subscription-based business model in so many industries, but it’s also due to an increase in competition.
But what does “customer-centric” mean today?
A customer-centric company is one where everyone at the organization — from the frontline support agent to the CEO — is thinking about the customer every day. It’s a company that optimizes the customer experience and makes decisions with the customer in mind.
Customer experience optimization is a cross-functional effort . Everyone from CX to engineering to product managers and executives needs to be involved. Everyone has a role to play.
As your customer’s expectations evolve and change, you’ll see big benefits — like high retention rates — if you consistently optimize your customer experience.