How to improve

Author: Shane Schick

Companies may have deep expertise in the products and services they sell, but not necessarily in how to improve customer experience (CX) elements that surround them.

If sales decline, for example, is it because the products are less popular, or are customers having a difficult time finding what they are looking for when they visit your website, or is the checkout process taking too long? If they leave a negative review of a service your company offers, do the right people within the company know what happened, understand how to rectify the issue through training, policy or other changes?

Companies that know how to improve customer experience study every step the customer takes as they develop a relationship with their brand. They know that doing so can help them build momentum to continue scaling their business.

This could explain why Gartner® found that organizations that demonstrate how customer satisfaction affects areas such as growth, margin and profitability are 29% more likely to secure additional CX budget.1

What is customer service experience?

It's easy to dismiss customer service as the department where people come to in order to make complaints, or to get troubleshooting tips from a contact center agent. The most successful firms look at it more holistically, recognizing that the customer service experience includes every interaction with a company before, during and after a purchase. Evaluating customer service experience requires also considering how employees are treated and what customers will see, think and feel at every touchpoint and interaction with the company and its offerings.

If your company is looking to learn how to improve customer experience, know that it starts with taking the following five actions:

1. Build a holistic customer journey that involves all departments

Even in organizations where there is a dedicated customer experience (CX) team or chief customer officer, gathering input and insights from every business function is critical. Consulting and encouraging participation at all levels ensures your strategy will reflect the full range of customer needs, and will likely make it easier to secure buy-in from line of business leaders.

Data from the marketing team, for instance, can help you understand where customers are discovering your brand and its offerings. This can help identify their preferred channels so that you can serve them accordingly. The sales team's close connection with customers, meanwhile, can help inform the development of representative personas you use to segment and begin personalizing experiences.

Then there are the contact center team members, who can convey common areas of frustration customers have, allowing your CX strategy to focus on reducing or eliminating them.

2. Understand and map your customer journey

A customer lands on your website, or walks into your store. What happens next? If you don't know the answer to that, you haven't created customer journey map. This is a process of looking at where customers move—online or in a physical location—the actions they commonly take and where they most often need assistance.

Journey maps are seldom one-and-done projects but will need to evolve over time as your company introduces new offerings, expands into other markets or simply grows to serve larger volumes of customers.

3. Build a strong employee experience

It's critical for businesses to understand the connection between employee experience and customer experience, and how they impact one another. No one wants to deal with a company staffed by stressed out, disgruntled or distracted team members. These attitudes or emotional states often reflect an environment where companies have not equipped and empowered people to do their best work.

A good example is whether or not employees are armed with the right tools and have insights from data to provide better service. They not only need to be able to understand and analyze it, but they also need effective tools to communicate and collaborate, wherever their coworkers are and regardless of the business function they serve.

Offering a positive employee experience serves as the foundation for businesses looking to learn how to improve customer experience. This is because people who feel prepared to do their jobs well are often motivated to meet or even surpass customer expectations.

4. Capture customer feedback

A vital element in learning how to measure customer experience is how your business handles customer feedback. For years, contact center agents have wrapped up an engagement with customers by asking them a few standard survey questions about whether they're satisfied with how their issue was resolved. While that's a common form of feedback, it's far from the only one companies can pursue.

Look at how to gather feedback through every available channel. This could include social media messages, links to surveys through e-mail newsletters, review sites or even focus groups. This feedback should directly influence how your CX strategy develops over time.

5. Capture and measure ROI for CX

Given the effort and budget involved, business leaders will expect you to understand how to measure customer experience improvements too. To some extent, your results can be translated into common key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales volumes and customer churn.

More CX-specific metrics include customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). Regardless of the metric you choose, make sure you apply it consistently and in a way that allows for the data to be reported and discussed by all relevant stakeholders.

Once you've learned how to measure customer experience, you can continue to develop your strategy by working with a trusted provider of customer experience consulting services. Learn how Verizon can help ensure you're investing in the CX solutions that position you for long-term success.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

Gartner, Gartner Says Most Customer Experience Programs are not Delivering on the Promise of Improving Differentiation and Helping Brands Better Compete, Matt LoDolce, May, 2022.