Using customer
experience research
to find out what
customers want

Author: Phil Muncaster

Customer insight is key to any successful business. But where do you start planning to improve your customer experience (CX)?

Consumers today have more choices than ever. Loyalty is hard-won but easily lost, so there's also plenty at stake for your business. Finding out what customers want can improve CX and revenue.

But improving your CX isn't easy. It involves strategic planning and requires access to the right data sources. A managed services partner can play an important role in customer experience research.

Why customer experience research matters

CX is king for today's digital-first businesses. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has redefined customers' expectations: 80% of consumers now consider CX to be as important as a company's products.

CX is the sum of the touchpoints your customers have with your company. A visit to your website is part of your CX. So are your social media posts. Bundled together, these touchpoints form the customer journey, which is where your CX efforts should focus.

Effective customer experience research could be the difference between success and failure. According to a PwC survey, 73% of consumers say that customer experience is a major factor in their purchasing decisions, and 32% say they'd walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.

With consumers spending hours online, there has never been a better time to invest in finding out what customers want.

Taking a customer-centric approach

Customer centricity is about turning customers into advocates. To earn their trust and loyalty, you must value them for who they are—not what they can do for your business. That means working from the outside in to map the customer journey and understand how your customers feel about their interactions with your organization.

These principles can help to guide your customer experience research strategy.

  • Make the right hires: Your employees are your most important resource, and they are the primary means of shaping and enhancing your CX. Work with human resources to select and hire people who put the customer first. Those hires will send a strong signal to the rest of your organization.
  • Put data front and center: You can't manage what you don't measure. Think carefully about the data and metrics you need to track to gain critical customer insights. Once you have it, share that information across your organization to adopt a customer-centric culture across your enterprise.
  • Track the business impact of initiatives: You must understand the impact of any changes you make—on your bottom line, customer loyalty and other factors. Knowing what is affected and how can help create a customer-centric culture by showing your employees how their efforts are improving the company. This kind of tracking could also help manage financial incentives for staff.

How being customer-centric can benefit your business

When you deliver the right customer experiences, it can drive long-term benefits for your organization. It can:

  • Differentiate your brand
  • Create brand value
  • Remove friction from customer journeys
  • Take the guesswork out of understanding customers
  • Mitigate operational inefficiencies
  • Direct investment
  • Improves customer retention
  • Motivate employees

How to find out what customers want

In-depth customer experience research is the key to realizing these benefits. But there are many options available. These three strategies can help.

Journey mapping 

Journey mapping can yield more holistic insight into customer relationships than surveys can. The customer journey is a collection of touchpoints; mapping it charts the path customer personas take to complete a specific goal, such as purchasing a product or setting up a new account.

Creating a journey map requires input from stakeholders across your organization. The result should be a visual representation of the journey that includes every touchpoint a consumer passes through, how they should feel when they get there and the actions they should take next.

To map the customer journey, you must first set clear goals and create key customer personas. Once you've completed the map, potential CX issues should be easier to spot.

Customer surveys

What better path to finding out what customers want than by asking them? Customer satisfaction surveys, web forms, net promoter score programs and service calls can help you collect detailed feedback on what's working and what isn't. You can also gather useful CX information by collecting feedback in the field through customer interviews, mystery shoppers and unscheduled store visits. This is more about ethnographic research, in which customers are observed in their natural environments to glean insights.

How a managed service provider can help

A managed service provider can play an important role in customer experience research. Providers that deliver and manage customer service and communications platforms for their corporate clients can provide unique insight into CX by surfacing critical omnichannel data.

The right managed services provider can help you learn how to find out what customers want by helping you build the right customer experience research strategy, and then equipping you with the right tools to conduct the customer research. They can also help you with mapping the customer journey as well as gathering and analyzing the customer feedback that is collected.

Finding out what customers want is key to success. Learn how Verizon can help to support your customer experience research efforts.