With more choices than ever before, customers can easily and quickly move on to one of your competitors if they have a negative experience with your brand. That’s what makes customer experience one of the most critical components for building a successful business. Consumer brands, especially small businesses, must deliver a seamless, positive experience to keep existing customers coming back—and to attract new ones.
In this article, you’ll learn what customer experience is, the benefits of delivering a good customer experience, examples of good and bad experiences, how to measure customer experience, and some tips for improving your business’ customer experience.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience refers to the interactions a customer has with your brand at all stages of the customer journey, from awareness to purchase and beyond. This includes placing an online order, speaking with customer service, receiving a promotional email, and everything in between. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, your customers’ in-store experience plays a large role, too.
Customer experience encompasses both the rational and emotional aspects of a customer’s interaction with your brand. This means it’s important to pay attention to processes and user flows—i.e., your app experience, the online checkout process, and how customers can get in touch with your support team––as well as your brand’s identity. The most successful businesses find a way to build brands that customers can connect with on an emotional level. That’s how you develop brand loyalty.
Benefits of delivering a good customer experience
Brand loyalty is one of the biggest benefits of creating a positive customer experience with your brand. Some other major benefits include improving customer retention, giving your brand the edge over competitors, increasing customer lifetime value, and boosting your brand reputation.
When customers have a positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to remain loyal to your company and even recommend your products or services to others. Happy customers also tend to spend more money with businesses that provide a good, memorable customer experience.
One additional benefit that’s often overlooked is how a good customer experience can impact your employees. When customers are satisfied, they’ll treat your team with respect and kindness. So, a positive customer experience can indirectly improve employee morale—plus, your team can operate confidently, knowing they’re providing a great product or service.
Examples of good and bad customer experiences
It’s important to note that customer experience can be subjective from person to person, so your business should create an experience tailored to the majority of your audience. For example, one customer may prefer his medium-rare steak to be on the rarer side and leave you a bad review. But that’s just one customer.
Overall, if you’re consistent and dedicated to delivering a good experience, the majority of your customers will respond positively to your customer service and you’ll know how well your team is doing.
What does a good customer experience look like?
A positive customer experience includes things like:
- Accessible self-guided resources – Make sure your customers are able to easily find the answers they need to frequently asked questions, especially during non-business hours.
- Short wait times for customer service – Customers may already be frustrated if they’re experiencing an issue with your product or service. Quick, accessible support can help ease their frustration.
- Transparent pricing – Be upfront about any fees you charge so customers know exactly what they’re paying for and how much they can expect to be charged.
- Marketing that sets expectations for actual product experience – Don’t over-promise in your marketing just to get people in the door or to your website. Honest, authentic marketing builds trust and leads to happier customers.
- Intuitive web and product UX – When it comes to your website, app, or product, user experience should be top of mind. Make processes as simple and straightforward as possible, and remove friction wherever you can.
What does a bad customer experience look like?
On the other hand, negative customer experiences tend to stem from:
- Customer feedback void – When a customer shares feedback on your product, service, or experience, make sure you’re listening so you can adjust accordingly.
- Poor customer service – Nothing makes a customer more frustrated than adding fuel to the fire when they’re already experiencing an issue. Carefully train your support team and use a quality assurance team to improve customer interactions.
- Long wait times – The longer a customer waits for assistance, the more likely they are to have a negative experience and look to competitors next time.
- Mismatched product experience – If you don’t set expectations accurately, you may get negative reviews even though there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with your product.
- Website or digital product difficult to navigate – If there’s too many hoops to jump through for customers to make a purchase or find an answer, they’re likely to abandon their cart or stop looking.
How to measure customer experience
To improve your customer experience, you first need to track customer feedback. Once you collect data about specific parts of your customer journey––and measure it against benchmarks or goals––you can decide which elements to prioritize.
Here are a handful of qualitative and quantitative ways you can measure your customer experience:
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Churn rates
- A/B messaging tests
- Focus groups
- Interviews with your customer support team
5 ways to improve your business’ customer experience
By identifying the most common pain points, you can begin developing solutions that elevate your customer experience.
1. Use data analytics and listen to feedback
Identify and track specific measurables to set goals and develop action plans. Collect feedback from customers and employees, and use that feedback to help steer those action plans. By analyzing customer data, you can pinpoint areas where your business is falling short and take steps to improve.
2. Create a seamless experience across channels
Customers expect a seamless experience across all channels, so it’s essential to keep your website, app, ads, emails, social media, and in-store experience consistent. Plus, make sure your customer service representatives have access to the information and tools they need to help customers resolve issues.
3. Provide multiple resource options
Empower customers to resolve issues themselves by offering self-guided resources, especially outside of customer service business hours. You can also use AI to offer a chatbot that accounts for high call volumes or off hours.
4. Personalize the experience
Use customer data to provide tailored product recommendations or content. Customers appreciate when companies take the time to understand their needs and preferences. Most marketing automation platforms make this easy and allow for significant customization.
5. Anticipate customer needs
Be proactive about technical issues or outages, and create transparent in-product messages so customers know what’s going on.
Success hinges on delivering an exceptional customer experience—for businesses of all sizes. By understanding the different stages of the customer journey, creating a seamless experience throughout, and anticipating customer needs, you can build strong relationships with your current customers and make a great first impression on new ones.