At some point in the lifespan of any company you need to be asking yourself…
You have a top-of-the-line product, your marketing is reaching the right audience and your sales team is making smart connections. But, for some reason, you’re still struggling to meet your goals. Perhaps sales are lagging, you’re losing deals to competitors or customers don’t seem satisfied and rarely make repeat purchases. What could the problem be? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, one area to consider is customer experience — the impression that the interactions customers have with your company give them about your brand.
Today’s consumers can find numerous potential companies to patronize at the click of a mouse or tap of a touchscreen. If the customer experience isn’t right, that’s precisely what they’ll do — find an alternative. Experience is increasingly crucial to customers and is gaining importance as a way to stand out among competitors. In 2020, experts expect customer experience to surpass price and product as the top brand differentiator.
So, how can you improve your customer experience? Using data is vital. With the right data and the right strategies, you can learn more about your customers, how they experience your brand and what improvements you can make.
The term “customer experience” refers to how customers perceive your brand as they interact with it across various touchpoints. Your marketing, sales, customer service, product, purchase process, shipping process, packaging and more all factor into the customer experience. Every step in the customer journey influences the overall customer experience.
What makes an excellent customer experience? According to a report by PwC, some of the top factors are efficiency, convenience, friendly service, knowledgeable service and easy payment. Creating an unforgettable customer experience comes down to focusing on people’s needs. People might value different things from company to company, so it’s essential to pay attention to what your customers want.
Improving customer experience can also benefit your business in the form of increased customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and sales. According to the PwC report, outstanding experiences can result in as much as a 16% price premium on your products or services. Happy customers are also more likely to share your brand with others. Plus, as touched on earlier, creating excellent customer experiences can set your brand apart from the competition, helping you win and keep customers.
To understand the experiences your customers are having and discover how to optimize them, you need to take advantage of data and analytics technologies. Tracking data about your customers and their interactions with your brand helps you get an understanding of how your company is doing concerning customer experience. It tells you what areas you’re doing well in and where you might need to improve.
Data also enables you to personalize experiences to different customers’ preferences and respond quickly, which is becoming increasingly essential in today’s digital world. Customers want quick responses to their queries, and both negative and positive feedback can spread rapidly on social media.
Various types of data can be useful for measuring customer experience. You may want to collect information related to demographics, online activity, purchases and customer support requests. It’s also helpful to ask customers about their experiences directly using surveys. You can collect, organize, analyze and use this data to improve your customer experience.
Tracking data helps you get an idea of where you stand in regards to customer experience and what changes you should make to create improvements. Data solutions can help you collect, organize, analyze and activate the customer experience data you need to find success. Check out the five steps to creating better customer experience using data below.
To get started, make sure you have a clear picture of who your current customers are and how they interact with your brand. Find out as much relevant information as you can. You may want to look into their interests, preferences, demographics, values, online behaviors, shopping habits and purchasing habits. Consider how, when and why they interact with your company and through which channels. Some places to look for data include your websites, apps, email subscription lists, social media, point-of-sale systems, customer support logs and survey responses.
As you collect this data, organize it into one platform, so you can view and analyze it within the same space. You’ll also need to clean up your data and make sure it’s free of errors, duplicates and other issues. The higher the quality of the data, the more useful your data insights will be. It’s also important to be able to identify individual users across their numerous devices, so you have an accurate view of their journeys.
As you organize your data, you may find there’s some missing information you wish you had. To get more details about your customers, you may be able to pull in data from second or third parties. This kind of data enrichment can help fill in the gaps in your first-party data and help you gain a more complete view of your customers.
Once you have an understanding of who your customers are, you can start to gather information about customer experience. Some customer experience data may already be available. Try looking for online reviews and scouring social media for mentions of your brand. Your sales and customer support logs probably also contain useful information related to customer experience.
Another way to see where you stand with your customers is to ask them via surveys. You can distribute your surveys in various ways, such as sending them out via email or text message, posting them on your website or social media or asking customers who call your company to answer a few survey questions. Determine which methods your customers prefer, and use those. Also, make sure that these surveys are not an inconvenience to your customers, as this can worsen the customer experience. You may want to offer a reward to customers who complete your surveys, such as a coupon or an entering in a drawing, to encourage participation. Another tip is to keep your surveys on-brand and make sure it’s clear to customers who the questions are coming from and how you’ll use the information.
Collect all this customer data in one place, so you can analyze it properly and get an accurate picture of where you stand with your customers.
After you gather a sufficient amount of data about who your customers are and how they experience your brand, you can start to analyze your data, create customer profiles, and map customer journeys.
Start by organizing your customers into segments based on their characteristics. Then, you can determine how these different segments feel about your brand and what they have in common in the way they interact with your company. You can even analyze customer experience on the individual level, in some cases.
To get a better feel for how customers experience your brand, map the customer journey for each segment or even each customer. Doing so involves visualizing each step in the process someone goes through when they move from being a prospect to becoming a loyal customer. Mapping this out can give you insights into which steps in the process are working well and which ones need improvement. For example, you might find a large number of prospects are not making repeat purchases after making a call to get clarification on how to use your product. If this is the case, you may need to either improve your support services or make your product easier to use.
Segmenting your customers can reveal which types are your best customers — those who buy frequently, buy large amounts or promote your brand to others. You may want to focus on these customers, rather than those who only buy once, for example. Take a look at the characteristics of your best customers, then target others with those same qualities to increase your chances of success.
Next, consider what your best customers are looking for in their experiences with your brand, and make those your priorities. Perhaps, for example, your customers value a speedy checkout process and personalization in the emails they receive. Another strategy is to use different approaches for different segments. It might not always be possible to do this, but when it is, it can yield powerful results. Consider what each group prefers, then offer an experience that meets those expectations while making sure to always stay on brand.
Again, if there is any relevant data you feel you are missing, augment your data by collecting more first-party data through surveys or other means or purchasing additional data from second or third parties.
Data is only as powerful as what you do with it. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t use their data to its full potential. Some companies may be holding on to old ways of doing things and not following their data where it’s leading them. This hesitation leads to stagnation and less-than-ideal customer experiences.
Of course, for your data to have an impact, you need to use the insights you gain from it to make changes that enhance the customer experience. Carefully consider what you’ve learned from analyzing your data, then make adjustments according to those insights. You might have found, for example, that your customers want more payment options. Perhaps you learned that many customers believe your mobile app is hard to use. Once you know where you need to improve, create strategies for doing so and begin to implement them. Prioritize the improvements you make based on how valuable they are to your customers. Consider which and how many customers want a specific change, and how crucial they feel that shift is.
One valuable way to put your insights into practice is with personalization. Personalize your interactions with your customers, whether it’s through an app, website, email, phone call or other means, by remembering users’ preferences, offering custom product or content suggestions and addressing customers by name. As an example, think about how personalized your experience with Amazon or Netflix is. Today’s customers increasingly expect these kinds of interactions with companies.
Don’t measure customer satisfaction and make the necessary changes only once, then move on. Data offers the chance to continue tracking customer experience metrics over time and continually optimize how you interact with customers. This approach sets you up for continuous improvement and helps you more easily adjust to changes in your customers’ needs.
Make sure every action you take to improve customer experience has a clear objective, and that you have a way to measure the results. You can use the same metrics that are currently working well for you, such as email open and click rates. You might also want to add new measurement methods, such as short surveys at the end of customer support calls to gauge satisfaction.
As you track the results of your efforts to optimize customer experience, you’ll uncover potential areas of improvements in your plans and processes. Make those changes and continue monitoring metrics. As you keep measuring and taking action, your customer experience will continually improve.
If you want to stand out from the competition, grow your profits, and increase customer satisfaction, use data to measure and improve customer experience. Improving the way people interact with your brand will have numerous benefits for both your company and your customers.
To take full advantage of your data, you need to have the right solutions in place and the right partner on your side. With Lotame’s unstacked data solutions, it makes it easier for you to collect, organize, analyze, and use the data you need to enhance the experiences of your customers. Lotame Connect makes it easy to gather online data, map users to their devices and onboard your offline data, so you can have all your information in one place.
Lotame Panorama empowers marketers, agencies, publishers and media companies to see more and do more to build lasting customer relationships.
Want to learn more about how Lotame can help you leverage data to enhance the customer experience? Contact us or request a demo today.