Your brand’s customer experience, and by extension your brand reputation, can make or break your business.
According to Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, where brands are rated on their CX year over year, a distressing 81% of brands have seen stagnating scores. And many front-runners have seen their scores go down. For a big-box retailer, a 1-point dip can lead to a loss of $244 million. According to Forrester, the issue lies in disconnected channel structures continuing to fracture the customer journey—leading to dissatisfied customers.
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To combat the CX slump, brands need to focus on breaking down silos and delivering a connected experience at each interaction. Here are the five steps that can elevate every touchpoint to transform your customer experience into one that delights.
1. Reinforce Your Brand Story
It’s rough out there for a brand, and with a market that’s more connected than ever, people are talking. Without your direction, potential brand ambassadors are telling your brand story (poorly), missing out on your company’s value proposition, and often misrepresenting your offerings. Competitors are making up their own talking points about your company, defining your brand in ways that improves their own image, and sowing distrust in the minds of your customers.
Because everyone can be a brand ambassador, building your brand awareness is key. Your brand story needs to be clear, and what you solve and how you do it needs to be front and center. By clearly defining and reinforcing your brand story for current and future customers, you control the messaging.
Warby Parker, for example, is a brand with a message, a story, and a purpose. The brand quickly established its position in the marketplace by embracing the image of a rebellious startup fighting against the greedy companies that dominated the eyewear industry. With its brand value clearly defined, it was able to grow through word of mouth and positive press. At launch, Warby Parker hit its first-year sales target in three weeks.
By clearly defining and reinforcing your brand story for current and future customers, you control the messaging.
You can’t always be there to speak for your brand. Instead, a strong, clear message should lead social sharing and word of mouth marketing to reinforce your brand message. When consumers know who your brand is, understand its key value proposition, and connect with its story before reaching their first official sales interaction, the customer journey becomes less about selling and more about continuing to deliver a great experience.
- Tell a Brand Story. Your brand story needs to be impactful and build trust with your audience. Let consumers know that your brand is different—that it has a purpose beyond its bottom line.
- Clearly Define Brand Value. Identify where you’re most competitive and let consumers know that’s where you’re competing. When you define your position within the market early, you can better reinforce it with consumers.
- Educate Your Advocates. With word-of-mouth advertising comes the authority of trusted family, friends, and influencers. Focus on clear, concise messaging that’s consistent across all channels and make sure that your advocates and influencers have the right story to tell.
2. Eliminate Friction in the Customer Journey
Give your brand spectacular moments by delivering at every touchpoint on a completely connected end-to-end experience. By collecting data about customer behaviors with marketing metrics, your brand can gain a better understanding of how to best serve up an intelligent customer experience that ends in conversion and customer satisfaction.
Begin by mapping out your customer journey. Focus on delivering a consistent experience across all channels and identifying moments where customer expectations are met. You’ll also want to identify key pain points where customers abandon your sales funnel so you can improve.
Sharing a visualization of the complete customer journey can break down silos, identify new opportunities, and reveal the full multichannel experience. Additionally, customer journey analytics can help you better forecast and predict customer behavior to plan for future improvements.
- Map It Out. Create a customer journey map to visualize the complete customer experience. Use it to identify key touchpoints and measure their success by comparing conversion metrics and traffic analytics. Replicate what’s working and improve what’s not to deliver an experience that overcomes obstacles and alleviates objections, driving customers toward conversion.
- Stay Consistent. Make sure that your brand consistently connects the customer journey no matter where the customer interacts with your brand—from desktop to mobile as well as online to offline. Deliver a tailored experience that feels unique to each individual customer to improve conversion rates and brand sentiment.
- Embrace the Whole Picture. Use journey mapping to improve your own team’s buy-in. By pointing out the value customers gain from each step of your process, employees can recognize their own contributions and will feel increased motivation to perform and improve.
3. Make the Most of Your Content
A strong brand creates thought leadership to become the go-to resource for consumers. During the consideration phase, consumers will research an industry—including your competition—before diving in and reaching that first interaction with your brand. You need to make sure that your brand has easily accessible content that resonates with customers.
LawnStarter, a company that connects homeowners and lawn care professionals, found a way to engage audiences by taking advantage of an unconventional consideration phase after discovering that its most popular content didn’t always focus on lawn care. By sharing tangentially related news articles and bits of trivia, LawnStarter has seen an enormous amount of positive brand sentiment and growth. The company’s goal isn’t to make a boring subject more interesting but to find something interesting and connect it back to the brand.
The content a brand shares should work in unison with the complete customer journey, engaging customers on social channels where they would otherwise disconnect from a brand. Understanding your audience means that your brand is better at delivering the content it wants.
- Market Your Content. Try producing different kinds of content and sharing it on different channels. Measure engagement, then ramp up what works and reinvent what doesn’t.
- Inform and Entertain. Don’t be afraid to switch tones when it comes to different channels. Consumers are looking for brands to both inform them and entertain them, and they may respond better to different styles on different platforms.
- Embrace Customer Concerns. When customers reach out with a complaint, try to correct it. If a customer is happy, let them know you appreciate them as a customer. Sometimes a simple “like” can go a long way in improving the way a customer views a brand.
4. Listen to Customers, Learn from Mistakes
Sometimes it’s through failure that brands can learn the best way to succeed. For many companies, improving the customer experience is iterative with a lot of trial and error. Knowing what isn’t working is often just as vital as knowing what is. Once an issue is identified, the next step should be fixing it.
A leading Texas energy provider, for example, discovered a number of complaints filed against them with the Public Utility Commissions (PUC)—a clear opportunity to identify problems and learn from them. Studying the PUC complaints and the sales process, it became clear that the biggest issues arose during customer acquisition. The company partnered with Clearlink, which began a complete digital overhaul of the brand’s domain. Clearlink’s efforts led to an 88.55% increase in sessions, and improved transparency and trust during acquisition set more accurate customer expectations. Not only did sales opportunities and installations rise by nearly 50%, but PUC complaints dropped to zero.
Although customer complaints can be discouraging, it’s also an opportunity for customers to share their specific pain points. By listening to customers and learning from past mistakes, brands can identify and remedy touchpoint missteps and improve the entire experience.
- Learn from the Customer. Knowing more about common pain points and complaints and how they shape customer journeys is the best way for your brand to create a positive customer experience.
- Set Expectations. Customers don’t want to be surprised by a product that lacks expected functionality or see a bill with additional fees. Identify and improve key touchpoints where transparency can help set better expectations for customers to improve overall satisfaction.
- Embrace A/B Testing and Make Mistakes. By A/B testing how your brand approaches touchpoints, you can gain actionable insights for how to best approach and improve the customer experience at each moment. Try segmenting your audience to give the most effective experience to each user for the largest boost in conversion and satisfaction.
5. Make Each Moment Remarkable
Ultimately, the customer experience your brand delivers across every touchpoint is defined by the moment that resonates the most with the customer—whether good or bad. The challenge is that you won’t always know what that moment is going to be. So, every customer interaction has to be amazing.
You never know which touchpoint will resonate most with your customer, so every customer interaction has to be amazing.
Chewy, working to become the largest pet supply retailer in the world, is focused on customers and their relationships with their furry friends. In this case, Chewy was losing a customer. After receiving a notice from Chewy that his cat food was shipping soon, Mike called to cancel, explaining that his cat had recently passed away.
Rather than ending their relationship with Mike there, or sending him to retention, that Chewy agent made the decision to add one more remarkable moment. “A couple of days later, my wife and I were touched and surprised to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a vase with a handwritten note offering more condolences from Diane and the Chewy team,” recalled Mike. “It was a really nice gesture that won’t be forgotten.”
Be ready to make moments count for your customers. A touchpoint isn’t just about funneling the customer to the next sales target. It’s a specific opportunity for a customer relationship to be cultivated and grown. Even a customer who may no longer be in need of your services can be an advocate for your brand, so never miss an opportunity to create a great customer experience.
- Never Miss a Moment. Outreach is only effective if every person on your team is capable of reaching out. Empower your team to engage individually whenever they can to build better brand relationships.
- Engage Outside the Funnel. Deliver a great brand experience, even when it won’t end in conversion. People who aren’t customers can still become brand advocates.
- Treat Customers as People. Promote programs that build relationships that feel personal. Make sure that upselling aligns with a positive experience where a customer’s problems are being addressed and solved.
Elevate Every Touchpoint to Create an Intelligent CX
Your customer experience is your differentiator in the market and a key driver in increasing revenue, loyalty, and brand reputation. Make sure that you have a CX plan where you elevate every touchpoint to offer the best possible experience. You need to reach every channel to build brand reputation that will generate better-quality business. When someone engages with your brand, do more than move them on to the next touchpoint—delight them at every step.