Think back to experiences you’ve had as a customer. How did that experience make you feel? There’s something to learn from both the positive and negative ones when trying to craft and improve your own customer experience (CX) for your business. Let’s walk through what CX is and the challenges small businesses face when trying to give their customers a positive impression of their products or services.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience, commonly abbreviated as CX, is the impression a small business leaves on their customers throughout the entire lifespan of their relationship. From the moment they become aware of your business, every interaction contributes to their overall experience.

A good customer experience makes it easy for the customer to accomplish their goal. If their goal is to purchase a new pair of running shoes, then it should be easy to find the right product for their needs, contact customer support, and access helpful resources. A poor CX strategy results in long wait times and automated support where it’s difficult to reach a human.

Why is it important?

The way customers view your brand based on the interactions they’ve had with your business is crucial for growth. The better experience a customer has, the more likely they’ll refer you to a friend. Remember, it’s a two-way street. In order to receive their business or referral, you must also offer your customers something that helps them reach their goal. 

What are some challenges in customer experience?

As new technologies emerge, so do new opportunities and new challenges with customer experience.

Creating omnichannel consistency

Omnichannel means that every platform your business is present on works together. A customer can start a conversation in one channel, such as email, and then seamlessly continue the same conversation on another channel, such as a phone call. Other channels include social media, chat bots, mobile apps and more. There is more than one way in which customers interact with your business. While these channels provide more opportunities for exposure, it also challenges your business to offer a cohesive and consistent experience.

Breaking organizational silos

When employees start focusing more on the department they operate within rather than the organization as a whole, silos begin to form. Generally, this means the different departments of a business run independently from the others rather than together toward a common goal. When communication between departments decreases, customer experience tends to suffer.

Nothing is more frustrating than telling the same information to a carousel of customer service representatives. Without organizational silos, the transition between departments should be seamless because they communicate with each other so the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves.

Offering hyper-personalization

Hyper-personalization is now the customer expectation. This means utilizing customer data to offer a highly customized experience. By collecting this data, businesses can better understand the customer’s needs and provide relevant content and product offers. More and more every day, customers are faced with a variety of options when purchasing a product or service. When deciding who to offer their business, customers want to know if a brand can meet their specific needs. It’s not enough just to know their name.

How to improve customer experience

Truly understanding the customer is key to an excellent experience. This can be accomplished by first collecting information about your customers then mapping out personas and buyer journeys.

Collecting data

If you want to get to know just who is purchasing your products or services, you have to start collecting information from them. This can be accomplished through various methods. First, take time to talk to them. If you meet them in person, strike up a conversation to get a feel for why they’ve visited your store and what they’re looking for. Second, ask for feedback after they’ve interacted with your sales or customer service teams. Third, include forms fields on your website that ask them for various information. Once you’ve collected this data, look for trends and patterns that will then help you develop personas.

Building personas

Personas are fictitious profiles of your ideal customers. This includes information about their age, job title, education, and family status as well as why they interact with your business.

While building these personas, take time to really understand what pain points they experience that push them to purchase your product or service. When they need a solution to their pain point, where do they look? Knowing this information will help you map the customer journey.

Mapping the customer’s journey

The customer’s journey includes mapping out your target audience’s entire experience with your business. It starts when they are first aware of your business, whether it’s through word-of-mouth or social media. It then follows them as they engage further with your business until they make their purchase and don’t interact with you anymore.

A customer journey map includes their pain points, solutions for those pain points, the entire buying process, and the actions they take throughout their experience. By knowing all of this information, you’ll be able to thoroughly understand their needs and offer a personalized and cohesive experience across every interaction you have with them.

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