You know having one of the strongest CX programs in your industry makes all the difference. Yet, that’s something that’s easier said than done. Customer experience (CX) is the latest battleground for today’s modern businesses, but it takes a lot more than you think if you want to stand out.
Think of a CX program as a way to optimize the way your business interacts with your customers. By providing amazing value, you build strong relationships that translate into more leads and sales long-term. However, this isn’t something you can throw together overnight. The most successful CX programs all have key things in common. This is how they continue to win customers again and again, making loyalty the new name of the game.
With 82% of the top-performing companies reporting close attention to detail around the human experience, your CX program can’t be an afterthought. When you invest in the right CX program, your customers take notice. Not only are they more likely to become raving superfans, but they’re advocates for your success.
Are you ready to build your own customer experience program? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, it’s smart to learn from these 6 things all successful CX programs have in common. They might just surprise you!
- 1. Customer journey mapping
- 2. Engaged employees
- 3. Customer data
- 4. Personalization
- 5. Customer service
- 6. Omnichannel mindset
- Step 1. Lead with emotion and value
- Step 2. Break down customer service silos
- Step 3. Create self-service options
- Step 4. Build feedback into every stage.
- Step 5. Engage with customers.
- Step 6. Build a loyalty program.
What are CX programs?
First, what is a CX program? This is a systematic way of thinking about how your business interacts with customers. By listening to what your customers say about their experience, you create a journey built with their needs in mind. With two-thirds of companies competing on customer experience (compared to 36% in 2010), this is the latest branding battleground.
This is more than a system for collecting and acting on data. It’s a type of business strategy designed for today’s modern customers. Your customers expect more from you than ever before. They’re no longer content with “okay” or “average” experiences. They expect brands to take proactive action to serve them, making everything simple from the very start.
Most importantly, CX programs are ongoing. They’re far from one-and-done. This is something you continue working on as an ongoing priority. While you might need to set some elements up from the start, these are things that keep happening on an ongoing basis to improve your CX. In the age of CX, it’s not enough to assume you know your customers best. You need to take real action to keep your brand accountable to their needs, creating a CX program that’s future-proof.
Benefits of CX Programs
With that in mind, what are the key benefits of CX programs? In short, your customers are savvier than ever before. They have sky-high expectations, and their loyalty isn’t easily won. Aside from building stronger relationships, an outstanding customer experience also leads to the following:
- Revenue: First, if increasing revenue is what you’re after, a CX program is the place to begin. A survey shows that 86% of consumers will pay more for a positive customer experience. That’s right, CX pays off for your business.
- Loyalty: Not only do you want to attract new customers, but you also want to maintain existing customers. Loyalty is something worth fighting for, but it’s easy to lose if you’re not careful. In fact, 1 in 3 consumers will abandon a brand after just a single bad experience.
- Satisfaction: When it comes to satisfying your new and existing customers, you need to make sure their feedback is heard and recognized.
- Referrals: Happy customers refer more new customers. If you’re building a referral program, your customer experience program should be its foundation.
- Value: Lastly, when businesses prioritize customer experience, they put value first. It’s not just about selling to customers blindly. It’s about treating them as real humans with real problems. This is how relationships are built.
If you’re trying to create a strong platform built on superfans who are passionate about your business, it’s time to get serious about your CX program. This isn’t something that can be whipped up on the spot, but it’s also not as complicated as it seems. In fact, you can probably recall some amazing customer experiences you’ve had in the past that are worth learning from. A quick glance at today’s top companies shows just how powerful the right CX program can be.
6 Keys to Exceptional CX Programs
Next, it’s time to break down what 6 things go into exceptional CX programs. As we explained before, there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Focus on what’s proven to work for today’s big-name brands and learn from them.
1. Customer journey mapping
First, customer journey mapping is at the heart of all successful CX programs. What is a customer journey map? This is when you take a walk in your customer’s footsteps, considering the steps they take from learning about your brand to making a purchase.
When you break down each step, you learn what challenges and pain points are important to them, creating key brand touchpoints. This becomes your guide for creating your entire CX strategy. Once you know where customers are going, you can help them get there. You can optimize the onboarding process, create benchmarks for existing experience, and build the entire buyer’s journey.
2. Engaged employees
On the other end of the CX spectrum is employee experience (EX). If your employees are disengaged and uninterested, you risk one of the most important pieces of the CX puzzle: customer service. Your company needs full engagement across the board. When employees are disengaged, they cost the business money. They’re said to cost upwards of $450 billion each year. Not only are these disengaged employees more likely to experience burnout, but they’re not excited about working towards your goals.
On the other hand, when brand leaders and team members alike are company advocates, they’re passionate about your products/services. They understand the role of CX, and they’re empowered to make decisions to help customers. Engaged employees are prepared to take action to help when needed.
3. Customer data
Similarly, the best CX programs take full advantage of customer data. Your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You can’t assume you know how your customers really feel. You have to ask them for yourself. Every exceptional CX program leverages customer data through surveys, feedback, reviews, and more.
From there, they act on this data to create real results. There might be challenges in your onboarding process, for example. Or perhaps your customer service response time is too slow. Either way, you won’t know if you don’t have a system for collecting feedback. Though it can be hard to recognize that you’ve been doing something wrong, this is an opportunity to turn the situation around for the better.
With that in mind, your customers expect more personalization than ever before. They know companies have access to their data, and they expect it to make their lives easier. From personalized communications and recommendations to authentic service interactions, these small things add up.
Today, a reported 71% of customers feel frustrated when an experience isn’t personal. Nobody wants to feel like a number on a sales page. They want to be seen and heard as a human, and that requires a commitment to personalization. Though it might seem like a small thing, personalization is truly a game-changer. It can make a difference between a customer choosing one brand or a competitor.
5. Customer service
Though many people confuse customer experience and customer service, these are two sides of the same coin. Customer service is a key part of a successful customer experience. Without one, you can’t have the other. Boosting your customer service is a big commitment, but it’s also a worthwhile one.
The stats don’t lie. A startling 70% of consumers in the US have spent more with a business that serves them exceptionally well. This means quick response times, self-service tools, and making sure employees are equipped to help customers to their fullest. There’s no such thing as going too above and beyond.
6. Omnichannel mindset
Last but not least, it’s time to embrace an omnichannel mindset once and for all. More people than ever are using mobile devices, tablets, and other devices to interact with brands. They expect the digital journey to be streamlined across experiences—both in person and digital.
If you want a brand that’s future-proof, creating an omnichannel environment is a month. This means your content is consistent, accessible, and easy to use across devices, mediums, and platforms. Whether a customer is talking to you over the phone, email, or blog, they have the same outstanding experience.
Basic Steps for Building CX Programs
Now that you understand what makes CX programs a success, it’s time to take it a step further. How do you build your own CX program that’s ready for anything the future has in store? While we can’t predict what next year will look like, we can be certain you should start with these things below.
Step 1. Lead with emotion and value
First, businesses that succeed today (and into the future) lead with humanity. They understand that people care about more than having the newest, shiniest thing. They lead with their emotions. According to Harvard, 95% of purchase decisions are emotional. As much as we like to think we’re rational creatures, we’re ultimately driven by what feels right at the moment.
How can you lead with emotion? Consider how you can help customers succeed. Instead of focusing on making sales, put them first. What do they need to feel better? What’s necessary for them to overcome their challenges. When you lead with humanity, your customers take notice. More importantly, they remember how this made them feel.
Step 2. Break down customer service silos
Next, break down any barriers between departments once and for all. If you want to focus on real CX program success, you need to implement CX across your entire brand. This isn’t just something that belongs to your customer service team. It should be a part of every decision.
Everyone at your company should know how to put CX first. From marketing to IT, it’s a company-wide mandate. When you keep your customer experience locked away in silos, you overlook some of the most important brand touchpoints. Your employees at all levels should feel connected to your brand message.
Step 3. Create self-service options
Another unexpected step for creating a successful CX program is to make self-service options readily available. Self-service options are becoming the new normal. In fact, 70% of customers expect self-service options on websites nowadays. What’s a self-service option?
- Support guides
- Video walkthroughs
- Case studies
- Automated chatbots
When these self-service options are included on your website, you make it easier for clients to get the help they need. Time really is of the essence. While you should always have support options like phone, email, and chat, some customers prefer to solve small things themselves first. Better yet, this frees up more of your support staff to deal with more important matters.
Step 4. Build feedback into every stage.
Similarly, you want to make sure your customers feel heard. This means building feedback channels into every stage of the customer journey. One of the biggest mistakes brands make is only asking for feedback after a customer made a purchase. While this is great, odds are you missed out on many chances to get feedback before this.
Instead, build feedback into different processes. You can send surveys, ask customers for feedback after an interaction, or even just include them on-page or within an app. Your goal is to keep a clear eye on your customer experience metrics. From there, you can streamline your CX program at every stage of the process—not just after customers made a purchase. By then, it might already be too late.
Step 5. Engage with customers.
As a brand, you need to have a strategy for engaging with current and prospective customers. Again, this isn’t something you should save until the end of the sales process. Consider the full scope of the customer lifecycle:
- Awareness: This is when customers first learn of your brand, product, or service.
- Engagement: Customers begin to interact with your brand, possibly joining an email list, visiting your website, or following on social media.
- Evaluation: Before they make a purchase, your customers check out the competition and evaluate what’s right for them.
- Purchase: Next, your customers make a purchase and experience the product or service firsthand.
- Advocacy: Lastly, your customer considered becoming an advocate, referring your product/service to others, or making another purchase.
You need a strategy for engaging with customers at each of these stages above. Having a clear customer journey map makes all the difference, as does acting on existing feedback.
Step 6. Build a loyalty program.
Finally, build a loyalty program. If you provide a great customer experience, you should have no trouble securing customers for life. This means more referrals, greater social proof, and more sales long-term. Once you understand how customers feel after purchasing your product/service, you’re ready to keep that relationship going into the future.
There’s no one way to create a loyalty program. You might offer special deals and discounts to your biggest supporters. Alternatively, you could reward customers for referring others to your business. The goal is to make these people feel like they’re a part of your success. They’re not only excited to make more purchases, but they’re more than willing to share these experiences with others.
Make a Worthwhile CX Program for Your Brand
Ultimately, an improved customer experience is more than an afterthought. It’s the only way to stand out in an increasingly crowded landscape. No matter your industry, you can’t afford to ignore the role of customer experience. That being said, the right CX program doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s simpler than ever. By putting your customers first, you reap long-term benefits.
You can be the biggest organization on the planet or a small startup, but the role of CX remains the same. If you want to create superfans who are passionate about your success, you have to put them first. These proven techniques above ensure customers stay at the very heart of your organization—from the ground up.