How customer experience can drive business growth (and where AI fits in)

How customer experience can drive business growth (and where AI fits in)

Outstanding CX is about far more than customer service. It’s a business driver, a customer retainer, and a perception builder. However, it’s not a quick win. It takes time to get under your customer's skin and understand them so you can work out what makes them tick.

It also means refining processes and working out what works best, gathering customer and employee feedback, and implementing changes accordingly. But first, let’s look at why customer experience is so critical to the success and growth of your brand or business.

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to CX

Given that customer experience encompasses all that relates to a business that affects a consumer’s perception of it, it’d be fair to say that the business of CX has never been more important. With so many touchpoints for brands these days, it’s never been easier to influence a customer yet so hard to get right consistently.

When you consider that CX involves the marketing materials you put out for audiences to consume right the way through to their experience onboarding for a product or purchasing a product, it’s pretty clear to see that CX can have a considerable impact on your brand.

Even indirect actions such as word-of-mouth referrals are considered to be customer experience, so it’s worth bearing in mind when you plot your customer journey or work on your tone of voice for marketing materials. Literally everything has an impact and can have a knock-on effect to your brand’s overall image.

Impact of Bad Customer Experience

Poor customer experiences work the same way as poor customer service – it affects your brand, image, and reputation. Unfortunately, nearly 91% of unhappy customers leave a brand without complaining, so the actual damage to your brand won’t be seen until long after you’ve had the chance to put it right.

A poor customer experience will likely be spread through word of mouth or online on social media, so it can be a pretty public and brutal process to go through. Ensuring you get it right can turn potential damage to your brand into something that grows your business.

How to Improve Your Customer Experience

Before we get into the why and how of CX improving your bottom line, it’s important to note how you can improve it and what to measure. You can’t improve growth using CX as a tool without first understanding a few basics. So, let’s get into it.

Understand Whom You’re Talking To

To really provide great CX, you need to get under the skin of your audience. This is mainly for the benefit of your customer support teams but also for those who write your marketing materials and plan your customer journey and onboarding processes.

You need to be able to understand the needs and wants of your consumers, what makes them tick, and, crucially, what would annoy them. You can do this by creating personas and segmenting customers to truly understand them.

By creating personas and segmenting customers, your customer support teams and other areas of your business can recognise the target audience sooner and understand them better. This way, they’ll be able to offer outstanding customer service to create a better customer experience.

Make It Seamless

Perhaps the most critical part of implementing outstanding CX is making the whole process seamless, whatever that process might be. Although delighting your customers is brilliant, bear in mind that most consumers don’t expect or want that – they just want the process to work logically and seamlessly.

Of course, we’re not saying that you should stop trying to delight your customers, just that the vast majority of them will be happiest when something just, well, works as it should do. They more than likely just want their problems solved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

It’s probably more worthwhile to reduce customer effort and make something seamless than covering all bases and going for ‘wow’ moments at every turn.

Feedback Is Everything

We’ve already touched on understanding your customer, but to truly create a customer-focused brand, knowing your audience is a continuous journey. That begins with knowing what they need from you and what turns them off as well as on.

This can be achieved through regular feedback loops. Whenever there is an interaction with your brand, whether through AI, a purchase, or an in-store experience, there is also an opportunity to gain feedback.

Feedback is everything because it’s the most honest way of evolving and improving your brand to make it more customer-centric. With positive or negative feedback, you have an opportunity to improve – don’t let it pass you by.

One other form of feedback to consider is employee feedback. Employees are the team on the frontline, dealing with customers and probably understand their gripes better than anyone. Don’t forget to talk to your employees and gather feedback from them to get a bigger picture and fill in the blanks.

Reduce Resolution Time

We’ve all been there; a query or complaint has been raised with a brand, and they take forever to get back to you, if at all. It’s one of the most frustrating experiences possible as a customer. The clock is ticking as soon as an interaction has been made with the customer.

That means resolving enquiries as quickly as you possibly can and improving the time to resolution across your business. Regardless of whether the interaction is a complaint or not, the resolution time has to be as low as possible.

Measure and Optimise

Staying on track of your CX is critical to the perception of your brand in the minds of your customers, so measuring performance is crucial. You can do this by tracking customer satisfaction scores (think Trustpilot and Google reviews).

You can also track customer lifetime value, repeat business, customer effort scores, and customer interviews. Talking to past customers is one of the best ways to understand where you went wrong and what you got right.

Customer lifetime value is a useful metric to track as it’ll give you more information about brand loyalty, which is the real benefit of outstanding customer experience.

AI and Customer Experience

While there is an argument to stop automating systems and avoid an overreliance on AI, it feels like there may be a shift in opinion. Intelligent self-serve systems are becoming far more advanced and, rather than replacing humans, are assisting in providing outstanding customer experience.

Years ago, early chatbots were poorly designed and only served to frustrate customers. Today, they’re far more advanced and actually improve CX.

Further, a customer handling agent can use intelligent AI to assist in pulling data from a CRM when speaking with customers, saving time and reducing time to resolution.

Better customer experiences on a micro level are critical to CX on a global scale for your brand, so it’s always worth considering where you could use a hand. Audiences want instant gratification, and having AI on your side when others are starting to embrace it can only be a good thing.

Outstanding Customer Experience = Loyalty = Business Growth

Outstanding CX is critical to your customer retention plans; there’s no doubting that. If a customer walks away from an interaction with your brand happy, they’re more likely to return than if they had a negative experience – that’s a fact. Brand loyalty is directly tied to outstanding customer experience.

Further, a returning customer is far more likely to spend more money than a new customer. Repeat business and brand loyalty are the keys to business growth, especially if you’re regularly converting a new customer into a loyal customer.

According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is up to fourteen times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer.

Loyalty to your brand is hard to come by these days, especially with new brands popping up all the time and markets fiercely competitive. It’s all well and good to meet expectations, but is your customer experience seamless? Is it logical and easy to use?

Make sure you’re offering superior customer experiences to your audience, and you’ll soon be seeing the same customers returning as loyal brand ambassadors.