December 13th, 2016
What is customer experience (CX)? Despite being the new(-ish), industry buzzword, the answer can be difficult to nail down. The short answer? CX is defined as how customers perceive all of their interactions with your company. Okay, sounds good. But, how do customers interact with your business?
The temptation is to think the answers to that question all fall under "customer service". To do so would be to ignore the significant portion of interactions that fall under user experience (UX). And now we have some more jargon to define! We’ll need to nail down what they mean to get to the core of how to deliver top notch customer experience.
The first piece of the puzzle – customer service
Customer service (CS) exists to advise your customers about the products or services you offer. Yep, CS and CX aren't interchangeable terms. But, that doesn't mean they're mutually exclusive. If your CS isn't on point, you've got no chance of delivering a good customer experience. We’ve written quite a lot about how you can make sure your customer service is top notch. So, if you’re looking for tips, grab your hot drink of choice, click that link, and settle in. If your customer service is already great, we'll move on to the part where we discuss how it affects customer experience.
How, specifically, does CS affect customer experience? When training an operator to provide good customer service, you need to make sure they’re familiar with every way a customer could be interacting with your business. Is your mobile website different to your desktop website? Do you have a mobile app? Have any offers gone live recently? Where might they leave you a review?
Knowing the answers to these questions will stand your operators in good stead to give the best possible customer service. And don't forget, there are many routes a customer could follow through your sales funnel so try to consider all of them. During training, get your operators interacting with your business as a customer would.
If they have first-hand experience with your CX, they'll be better set to understand the CS queries they'll be dealing with. It's also a great way of introducing them to the fact that customer service is only one part of a customer's overall experience with a company, and therefore that it isn't the only factor when they form an opinion on your product or service.
Giving operators the chance to interact with your product as a customer is not only a fantastic training technique, it allows them to identify any potential issues in the user experience your customers are receiving.
Is your CS holding your CX back?
Want to gauge your customers' opinions of your CS, specifically? Customer satisfaction (CSat) is the key performance indicator (KPI) you're looking for. When you’re looking to improve CSat, you need to consider all customers' points of contact with your company. To be clear - that doesn’t mean all the ways they can get in touch with your business, but rather every way they can interact with it in any way. Once you have a clear picture of how well perceived your customer service is, you'll know whether to focus your CX improvement efforts on your CS team, or elsewhere.
User experience – not just another way of saying CX
Getting a definition of user experience can be a bit tricky. In fact, if you Google “user experience definition” one of the first results is a page of multiple definitions for UX. Hoo-boy.
When we talk about user experience with our clients, we define it as “how someone interacts with a product or service”. UX is one piece of a customer’s overall experience with your business - it forms part of your CX.
See how we said "someone" and not "customer"? Not everyone that comes into contact with your business is going to end up spending money with you (we know, it makes us sad too), but they're certainly more likely to if you offer a top-notch user experience. Nailing your UX is going to net you more customers, on top of improving your customer experience; if your UX is seamless, your CX is likely to be too.
Use user experience to set targets
Defining exactly what every user experience you offer is, and what they should look like, is the first step to setting your CX goals. Want to reduce the overall number of customer contacts you're receiving? You could tailor your UX to make it harder for people to contact you. Or, you could devote time and money to smoothing out the bumps in their experience that's causing them to reach out to your CS team.
We do a lot of “reason for contact” analysis for our clients, and strongly suggest you do the same to identify problems in your UX you may be blind to. How? Analyse all reviews your customers leave you, across platforms. Enable your operators to fill out surveys as they’re assisting customers to specify the nature of the customer’s query. If you see a pattern emerging, take steps to address them and watch the number of contacts and negative reviews you receive plummet - sure evidence of an improved customer experience.
User experience - how someone interacts with a product or service.
UX can be broken down into several, individual steps: how they purchased your product or service, how they use it, and any after sale support they may have sought out. That point also falls under customer service - CS and UX aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
If customers complete all parts of their UX in different channels, this becomes a cross-channel user experience. One of the main things to keep in mind when you’re offering a cross-channel user experience is consistency. Anything a customer can do on your desktop site, they should be able to do from a mobile or tablet. Mobile now accounts for 65% of digital media time - your website must be optimized for mobile users.
Another key thing to remember is that customers don’t think of different channels as separate entities; they’re all part of one company – yours. Any updates they make to their account on a call to a CS operator should instantly be replicated across all channels for a seamless CX (and customer peace of mind).
To nail CX, you need the full picture
As we said, user experience and customer service aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, unless you’re running an eCommerce site, a significant proportion of UX's a customer has with your business is going to include some form of CS. If you find you’re dealing with an increasing number of customer contacts, it’s likely that some tracks in your customers’ journey have become crossed.
Your UX should shape the key performance indicator (KPI) targets you set for your CS department and individual operators. An easily accessed webchat facility is going to require a higher target number of contacts per hour (CPH) for your operators than one that can only be found after digging around on your website.
If you only consider CS when trying to improve your customer experience, you’re going to leave empty spaces in the overall CX puzzle. In fact, “puzzle” itself isn’t a perfect metaphor. Customer service and user experience aren’t distinct pieces of a full picture, they overlap in several ways. The steps to enhancing your customer experience lie in understanding the user experience you offer, and how that affects your customers’ CS needs.
We’ve spent years in our laboratory researching the best ways for our clients to optimise their customer experience – providing award winning, technology-led CS and giving advice to help improve the UX they offer. Want in? Contact us today and prepare to be blown away. Scout’s honour.