Guest blog: Victoria Greene, branding expert and freelance content creator
Victoria is the founder of Victoriaecommerce and regularly shares her business advice with entrepreneurs looking to make a success of their online business. Big fan of social storytelling & customer-centric content.
Customer experience (CX) is more important than ever before. Many businesses know how essential it is, but how do you actually go about providing amazing CX? The key is to be agile. So what does agile customer experience actually look like?
Why customer experience must be agile
Because customer experience involves the interactions a customer has with your organisation throughout the whole relationship, from awareness right up until purchase and beyond, it goes beyond customer service (indeed, customer service is a part of CX).
The more positive your customers’ experiences are, the more likely they’ll be to become repeat customers, so investing in CX is a must. The problem with traditional approaches, though, is that they’re too slow to adapt to change. They gather ideas about what the customers want but don’t update them.
That’s particularly significant today, because CX standards and expectations are changing all the time, with technology making it possible for businesses to connect with customers in different ways. You need to be fast and flexible in your approach to CX — here’s what that looks like:
Predicting customer needs
As mentioned, technology plays a crucial role in customer experience. You can use technology to communicate more effectively with your customers, increase your service consistency, and speed up your response times.
A good CRM system is a huge part of this. With CRM software in place, you can record communications with your customers, monitor them, and then use the data to make meaningful adjustments to your operation.
As an example, you could view each customer’s purchase history using your CRM software, coming away with a better understanding of their needs. Knowing what they’re looking for, you can then take a more proactive approach with your designs.
This could mean suggesting related products or delivering more targeted emails that provide more value to each individual customer. Essentially, you can provide more of what your customers want, leading to stronger customer relationships.
Providing cohesive customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is an essential part of agile customer experience. More satisfied customers are more loyal, meaning they spend more on your products and services, and are happier (and more likely) to recommend you to their friends and family members.
Customers want to solve their problems, and that’s why they come to you. They have specific needs and wants, and they will invest in your products when you solve a problem for them. And it isn’t enough to deliver what they want at just the last step.
Instead, you must meet their needs and satisfy them at every part of their customer journey, from how you answer their questions to how quickly your website loads. Every aspect matters to provide a satisfying experience.
Ensuring close teamwork
Every person in a business has a part to play in delivering a positive customer experience, so you need to ensure that your entire team works together seamlessly to respond to customer needs as quickly and effectively as possible.
If your customer support staff are fantastic, but your delivery team misses the provided deadline, the customer’s experience will suffer.
“Think of your overall CX as a series of steps, with each one needing to follow smoothly from the one before it”
Pinpoint where things are not working and provide feedback to your team to ensure you don’t let one negative element affect the entire customer experience. You can also invest in team development and training where necessary.
Staying open to change
More than anything else, agile customer experience is about being able to change. The digital industry in particular moves incredibly quickly, and you need to be ready to change direction when needed. That means being willing to embrace new technologies, new standards, and new channels.
It’s vitally important that you don’t get stuck in your ways. Think about how using chatbots has become an online staple for various industries. When something like that comes along, you can’t just sit back and assume that your current CX is good enough — you can always do better, plus what’s good enough today might be unacceptable tomorrow.
Keep an eye on your competitors to find out what they are doing right. Learn which trends are becoming more important, and then make sure you keep up with them so you know when a notable novelty turns into an everyday essential. To keep apprised of UI and UX trends, look for examples of successful sites (browse leading brands getting UX right, or check out inspiring ecommerce businesses for sale), and read industry blogs wherever possible.
Keeping up with customer preferences
To provide agile customer experiences, you need to know exactly who your customers are and what they want. You can do this by creating buyer personas for different types of customers, but don’t leave them static. Preferences change over time.
Make a habit of checking up on your customer base to find out what they want and need. What do they expect? What are their goals? What are the problems they face? Each time you get that much-needed information, compare the answers to the ones you received the last time you checked. This will allow you to chart how your customers are changing and perhaps even get ahead of some trends.
You should also gather feedback from your customers on a consistent basis to see what they think of your business. Send surveys, and request feedback through your website. If you start to see a decline in customer reception, it’s likely that preferences have changed — telling you that it’s time for some updates.
Taking a proactive approach
Agile customer experience means being pro active rather than reactive. You want your customers to receive what they want before they have to ask. This can involve relatively simple acts, but they all add up.
For instance, following an order, don’t wait for the customer to contact you to find out about the delivery date — email them directly and continue to do so throughout the process when updates are available.
You should never force your customers to ask for information that you know they want and can easily provide. That shows a significant lack of care.
You also need to be able to make quick changes and reactions — it’s especially important when problems arise. Reacting fast leads to better customer satisfaction and fewer complaints and negative reviews.
This can come into play even after someone has left a negative review. Using brand reputation management, you can monitor your brand mentions and reviews, then react empathetically to negative reviews and possibly turn them around.
If a customer has experienced a problem, you can help to resolve it, ensuring you are investing in improving their customer experience even after the purchase.
Agile customer experience means all of the above and more. Remember the importance of customer experience and how much it is linked to your success as a company if you want more loyal customers: customers who’ll return time and again and recommend your products and services.
You need to ensure your customer experience meets their expectations, and that means being agile. So use the best practices highlighted here and ensure your business provides a more agile customer experience going forward.