Customer expectations have changed over the years. 'The product' is no longer the primary focus; instead, the experience surrounding it now takes precedence. Customers live in an experience economy where good is the starting point and not the differentiator. Everything around the product—from packaging to a mobile-first website and support—must be robust and intuitive to inspire consumers to pick your brand over a competitor's.
What Makes a Customer Experience (CX)?
Offering an excellent product is a start. The best brands provide stellar experiences throughout the shopping process. From the shopping to the unboxing—every moment counts towards their perception.
For example, if you have ever ordered from a local store or Etsy, you may have noticed the little things that surprised you. Perhaps when unboxing, there was a personalized note thanking you for your purchase. Even the wrapping makes an impact—or maybe the item had a special box or paper that set it apart from other orders. The point is, the unboxing was an experience. Yet, the shopping process is where your brand makes its first impression.
Customers who form a favorable impression often become loyal and repeat customers.
Engagement and the Quality of Interaction
Engagement ensures that your customer maintains interest throughout the entire process—from discovery to purchase. Interaction creates the basis of communication, a crucial part of CX. Here are a few key components of engagement and quality interactions.
Customer touchpoints are your brand's point of contact with potential buyers—from start to finish. An example is a customer viewing your ad online or researching your brand. This can even include contacting your customer support team or interacting with your brand across social media. Here are a few examples of touchpoints:
- Digital ads
- Social media interactions
- Visiting your homepage
- Newsletter signups
- Subscribing to your blog
The definition of interactions is straightforward. This is the component where customers communicate and directly interact with your brand. Examples include:
- Contacting your customer service or a sales team
- Interacting with your brand's product
- Filling out customer forms or sending an email
- Sharing your social media posts, links, etc.
How you engage with your customers is a critical part of building loyalty and trust, but it's not a one-way street. More then ever, customers are also choosing to engage in their own ways with your brand like:
- Attending your webinar or live stream
- Signing up for a free trial or sample
- Setting up a sales meeting
- Buying your brand's product
Creating a CX
While the three above components are a vital part of CX, they don't define the entire process. To truly maximize your efforts, you must first understand your customer and their buyer persona. As mentioned in Forbes:
Organizations must track the buying behaviors of their customers. They must try to comprehend what type and class of people are the most likely to want and avail themselves of their products and services. Companies that make efforts to know their customers can customize their experiences, create lifelong loyalty and attract more clients by targeting similar audiences or getting referrals from their current customers.
Think of it another way–the ideal shopping experience you'd like to have is the same one your customers would like to have as well. Along with understanding your customers, you must also know your brand and its objectives. These three questions will help inform how you should construct your CX.
- What are your wants? Do you want more repeat customers? Are you looking for new customers?
- What is your vision? Do you have a new product to join the market? Is there a launch for something different? What is it you want to achieve by this CX? Perhaps you want to create a buzz or showcase a new item to gain interest in current products.
- What tools do I need? By knowing what you want, you then need to know what tools you need. For example, a rise in interest may mean a new shopping cart. An out-of-date website means you might invest in an overhaul.
Once you begin to look at CX from the customers' perspective, it's easier to formulate a strategy that elevates their experience every step of the way. Sometimes, that means rethinking how your product is packaged—other times, it comes down to more nitty-gritty technical details, such as embedding a chatbot on your website or in your mobile app that gives your customers the ability to connect with your support team easily no matter where they are.
Oh, and as Zoe so often likes to point out, she's so much more than a 'chatbot.' Connect with her and experience all the different possibilities for yourself—from sales to support–and learn how chatbots can empower your teams and delight your customers along the way.