Today's customers have more choices than ever. To stand out, you need to offer something more than your competitors. The answer? A great customer experience.
Customer experience (CX) is made up of all the cumulative interactions a customer has with you, from the instant they become aware of your business to when they convert and beyond. Companies that deliver an excellent experience typically enjoy greater loyalty and higher revenue.
But there's often a disconnect between how businesses and customers perceive CX. It's therefore important to identify gaps in your customer experience strategy and take steps to address these. Otherwise, you risk a disconnect that costs you customers and limits your profitability.
- Unclear messaging
- Neglecting personalized experiences
- Delayed response times and issue resolution
- Inefficient workflows and lack of automation
- Failure to deliver seamless interaction across multiple channels
- Inability to forecast and address customer needs
- Employee knowledge gaps
The importance of customer experience in driving profitability
There are many customer experience statistics that highlight CX’s importance for retention and revenue. For example, 60% of customers said that they would stop doing business with a brand if they felt that the service wasn’t friendly. Also, about half of customers said that they actually had left a brand that they had previously been loyal to as a result of poor customer service.
If you want customers to spend money on your products or services, you must give them a consistent, personalized experience across your online and offline channels (i.e. optimize omnichannel), or they'll quickly jump ship. This can prove costly—and not only in terms of lost business: most marketers agree it's more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain one.
Additionally, satisfied customers will tell people about their experience with you. Positive word-of-mouth recommendations are the best way to build your reputation and attract clients, helping to grow your revenue.
Customer experience gaps that could be limiting your profitability
We'll now look at the most common customer experience gaps and give you tips on how to close them. You can then review and optimize your CX strategy accordingly.
Common customer experience gaps include:
1. Insufficient communication channels
Customer communication preferences vary widely, but most consumers expect companies to cater to them. That said, few businesses offer more than two or three support channels.
By limiting customers’ choices, you risk creating pain points. For example, say a customer has a complex issue your chatbot can’t resolve. If there’s no option to transfer to a live agent, they’ll become frustrated and may take their business elsewhere in the future.
So, make sure you offer a range of ways for customers to contact you. Below are some common channels and their benefits:
Research which channels your target audience prefers using surveys, focus groups, and reviews. If lots of people mention a channel you don’t currently offer, look at how you can incorporate it.
Also, enable customers to switch between channels if they need to. Choice and convenience are two of the best ways to boost satisfaction.
2. Unclear messaging
Without a clear brand message, customers won’t know what you offer and why it’s better than the alternatives. This will make it difficult to attract new buyers. Unclear messaging also impacts your brand’s perceived trustworthiness and makes it hard to build a loyal group of advocates.
Each of your channels should send the same message about your brand, including its values, products, and benefits.
Source: Marq's 2021 Brand Consistency Report from info.marq.com
To create a clear brand message, you should:
- Research your target audience and how your products or services relieve their pain points.
- Write a positioning statement that explains who you are and what you offer.
- Create a brand story (for instance, what your values are and why customers should choose you).
- Back up your message with data, case studies, and customer testimonials.
Also, develop brand guidelines based on your message and implement employee CX training to improve brand knowledge and provide consistency among the key customer touchpoint, that is your workforce.
3. Neglecting personalized experiences
Customers want personalized experiences that address their specific needs and history. Fail to provide them, and you miss the chance to create a deeper connection with consumers that helps you keep them long-term. It has been shown that brands risk losing 38% of Customers Because of Poor Marketing Personalization Efforts.
Poor personalization negatively impacts customer experience (CX) in several ways. Firstly, when customers receive generic and irrelevant communication, such as impersonalized emails or generic marketing offers, it leads to a sense of disconnection and frustration, diminishing overall customer satisfaction.
Secondly, without personalized recommendations or tailored product suggestions based on their preferences and past behaviors, customers may struggle to find what they are looking for, leading to a poor shopping experience.
Lastly, poor personalization can erode trust and loyalty, as customers expect businesses to understand their individual needs and preferences. When these expectations are not met, customers may feel undervalued and seek alternatives, impacting long-term customer relationships.
There are several ways you can give customers a personalized experience, such as:
- Using their names in correspondence.
- Sending them a “happy birthday” message.
- Offering their preferred communication channel.
- Sending offers based on their purchase history.
But, to enable personalization, you need data e.g. their contact details, preferences, purchases, past interactions, and more. Software like a CRM or ERP platform can help.
Both of these systems help you to collect, organize and utilize your customers' data. A CRM system is typically used to store and record all customer interactions. It then takes this data and turns it into actionable insights that can inform your marketing and help you to personalize your customer’s experiences.
ERP systems, on the other hand, give organizations a complete view of their business operations. They provide a comprehensive understanding of what is happening within the organization by integrating and consolidating data from various functional areas such as finance, human resources, procurement, inventory management, sales, and customer data.
In contrast to a CRM system, an ERP platform will allow you to gain a complete understanding of your business. This means that you and your staff can take a holistic approach to marketing, sales, and the customer experience, rather than relying on siloed customer data.
4. Delayed response times and issue resolution
Today's customers want immediate service, so a fast response time is vital if you’re to meet expectations.
There are several ways to improve your response time and issue resolution. Firstly, if you don’t already, it’s worth using chatbots on your website.
Chatbots are great for answering simple questions, and they give the sort of instant response customers want. They’re also available 24/7. Just make sure customers can talk to a human agent if the chatbot can’t help.
Secondly, provide self-service options as part of your help desk, like a knowledge base or FAQ section. This is a great way to reduce ticket volumes and empower customers to find answers without waiting for a rep.
Finally, automate what you can, such as prioritizing tickets and notifying customers of their status. By freeing your support team from these manual tasks, they can concentrate on solving customer issues instead.
5. Inefficient workflows and lack of automation
As we mentioned earlier, speed and convenience are vital to making sure customers have a positive experience, but inefficient workflows and manual processes are currently hampering many businesses.
By automating and streamlining what you can, you’ll make things easier for both customers and employees. Potential areas to automate include:
- Emails. Create and send automated, personalized emails. For instance, when customers subscribe to your mailing list or complete a sale.
- Segmentation. Automatically segment your customers based on their preferences, industry, spending habits, and more.
- Customer onboarding. Speed up the registration and learning process and leave your employees free for other tasks.
6. Failure to deliver seamless interactions across multiple channels
It’s no longer enough to provide various communication channels; customers also want a joined-up experience. If they send an email and then contact you on live chat, they expect you to know what was in the email. No one likes to repeat themselves.
To optimize for customer experience, you need to embrace an omnichannel model. That means providing seamless interactions across your channels. Your customers’ data and contact history should be available to your reps no matter how customers contact them.
An ERP platform, which we mentioned earlier, is one helpful solution; another is a digital experience platform (DXP).
Digital experience platforms bring together content and customer data management. This helps brands offer a consistent and personalized omnichannel experience. Meanwhile, ERP platforms unify your data and business operations, from customer relationship management to accounting and inventory management.
7. Inability to forecast and address customer needs
Finally, many companies struggle to predict and address customer needs. They’re strictly reactive, solving problems as they arise without getting to the root cause of the issue. To give customers the best experience, you must be proactive. How? By using data to forecast their needs.
Predictive analytics tools use customer and business data to forecast customer needs based on their purchase history, interests, products viewed, and more. This lets you send targeted messages to prompt action.
For example, if a customer’s subscription ends soon, you could send them a discount to encourage them to renew. You could even suggest a different plan that would suit them better.
You should also aim to use an accounting software for small business that has forecasting abilities. This will allow you to better assess and predict your cash flow, highlighting trends to make sure that you’re able to allocate resources accordingly and consistently provide great customer service, even in your busiest periods.
8. Employee Knowledge Gaps
Employee knowledge gaps can significantly impact customer experience. When employees lack the necessary knowledge and expertise, they may struggle to provide accurate and helpful information to customers. This can lead to frustration, misinformation, and prolonged issue resolution times, negatively impacting the overall customer experience.
Additionally, knowledge gaps can hinder employees from delivering personalized and tailored experiences, as they may not have the insights or understanding to cater to individual customer needs effectively.
To address employee knowledge gaps, organizations should invest in comprehensive training programs, knowledge-sharing platforms, and continuous learning initiatives to ensure employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
In 2023, customer expectations are higher than ever, so it’s essential to provide an excellent experience. Otherwise, you’ll find it hard to keep hold of them. 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.
Delivering valued and exceptional customer experiences offers tangible benefits to businesses. Studies have shown that customers are willing to pay a premium of up to 16% for products and services when they have had positive experiences.
This increased willingness to pay is particularly pronounced in industries associated with luxury and indulgence purchases, where top-notch service can have the greatest impact on customer loyalty and willingness to spend more.
By streamlining and automating what you can, you can give customers the timely and efficient service they desire.
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