Customer experience (CX), once a fashionable buzzword, has now become a key competitive differentiator.
A great CX is created through the combination of online and offline interactions—including messaging, content, sales, product, and support—and how well they all fit together. CX isn’t just about how fast you respond to a question or how quickly you address a problem. It’s the perception your audience has developed about your brand, based off of their interactions, over time, with your small-to-medium business (SMB).
In the past, the CX was mainly post-sale. Product teams and support centers handled all questions and service calls. Measurement for success hinged on minimally-sized phone trees and short wait times—these were the experiences that mattered most. However, these isolated touchpoints didn’t tell the whole story of how customers felt about a brand or how likely they were to do repeat business.
Today, SMBs understand they have to look at the entire lifecycle of a customer in order to create a great CX. This starts with pre-sale education (identifying a customer’s need before they realize it themselves) and continues beyond the sale, to ensure your customers remain your customers. All of this means you have to close the gap between what brands typically create (product-focused content) and what customers really want (customer-centered experiences). But where do you begin?
1. Know your customer. While companies collect massive amounts of information on customers and their behaviors, they really don’t know them. What motivates them? What keeps them up at night? Who do they trust for information? What messages resonate with them? These are all part of building the foundation for your CX.
2. Know where they go for information. Let’s face it, if you’re going to show up and be a part of a conversation, you have to know where the conversation actually happens. While it’s easy and convenient for brands to distribute content in specific places, (i.e. website, social channels, and through sales teams), that doesn’t mean it’s where your customers look for their answers. Knowing your customer means knowing how they search for answers, wherever they are in their customer journey.
3. Know what makes them come back. People return to places where they find value. Your experience should be exactly that. How value is defined depends on what matters to your customers. Is it knowing they can trust you with anything that comes their way? Is it that you deliver the exact support they need in a critical moment? Converting a prospect to a customer is one thing, but it’s the CX that keeps then in the buying loop.
4. Know how to make it easy. This is important throughout the entire customer relationship. If your top-of-funnel visitors have to dig to find relevant information on your website, you are driving a huge wedge between you and them. If they call a help line and have to wait on hold for 40 minutes, they’ll end up frustrated and angry. The best experience you can give any customer is one that simplifies their life and makes it easy for them to do business with you.
When it comes to CX, today’s buyers expect you to anticipate what they need, when and how—even before they realize it themselves. Which is why customers are no longer won or lost based on the price of your product. Instead, the biggest influencer comes down to the quality of the experience your SMB consistently delivers to customers.