In 2021, customer experience sounds like a well-worn term. During our lifetime, we probably saw the phrase “we apologize for the inconvenience” more than a thousand times. And I guess every person on the planet at some point heard that “the customer is always right” too. Luckily, by now most businesses know that good CX is far more complex than these antique clichés.
As HubSpot defines it, customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer's journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line – including revenue. So, in short, Customer Experience has a vital impact on your entire business.
Since CX is such a complex area, analyzing it from the perspective of your products isn’t easy. So, in this blog entry, we’re going to show you how you can identify it's pain points.
Why Is Good Customer Experience So Important in 2021?
There are many Customer Experience killers. To name just a few, they include long waiting times (for an order or reply), not understanding the customer's main needs, dishonest practices, hidden costs, or too high prices when compared to quality. And with the rising digitalization and evolving customer expectations, understanding how a customer feels when interacting with your product or service is especially important.
Currently, many industries are influenced by unprecedented digital advancement – for example, eCommerce or mHealth. But, surprisingly, it also influences well-established (“old”) business sectors. Take banking, for instance.
Over the past few years, many innovation-oriented FinTechs have been frequently introducing unique services, some of which are setting new market standards. As a result, customers from the finance industry are getting used to better services, seamless experiences regardless of channel, and more value for their money. So, ultimately, if well-established banking institutions (or sometimes even some new finance companies) want to stay competitive, they need to adjust.
A great example of the abovementioned trend is the success of Revolut. Sure, their accounts are free – but most importantly, Revolut also takes no fees for contactless MasterCard or Visa payments in 150 currencies and even… doesn’t charge anything for currency exchange (with a great exchange rate). Practically, customers travelling abroad just need their national currency on their account and don’t have to worry about anything – the whole process happens automatically, saving them not only money but also a lot of time.
And this is just one example. Media are even saying that this new wave of online-first FinTech companies – among which are also, for example, Starling or Monzo – is disrupting other financial institutions. As a result of these evolving offers and expectations, research shows that 42% of SMEs were looking to change banks in 2020.
From the perspective of other financial institutions, there’s one way to improve their business: to focus on CX and solution delivery. And now, we’re going to give you a few hints on how you can do it.
The First Step Is to Understand Your Customers (at Least a Little Bit)
There isn’t one golden rule to instantly improving your customer experience. But luckily, there’s one very important step you should always consider first.
Stepping into your customer's shoes.
Yes, this may sound trivial – but it works. If you want to learn what needs to work better in your service or product, you should explore all touchpoints your customers have and… observe.
The easiest (and cheapest) way is to simply look at your product or service from your client’s perspective (for example, if your business type allows it, you can become a… secret shopper!). Yet, there’s a huge chance you’ll miss some really important details since you’ll be under the curse of knowledge – but it’s a start, at least!
The Next Step Is to Dive Deep Into Data
Luckily, there’s a lot more you can do. With some effort, you can get more valuable information untainted by cognitive bias. How? There are multiple interesting approaches and tools. Here, we’re going to list a few of them so you can get a general idea where to look. This way, you’ll be able to establish if your Customer Experience has some issues – and if so, what they are.
1) Build Personas
Creating a fictional character to represent a customer type that uses (or might be interested in using) your products or services can be very insightful. That way, you can consider the goals, desires and limitations of your real users. Getting back to our Revolut example – imagine there’s a well-established, reliable bank with a very high average age of customers. Do you think it would be wise to move to online-only operations?
2) Interview Representatives of Each Persona
After you craft your fictional characters, you can also look for their real-life representatives. With their help, you’ll be able to perform in-depth interviews, contextual interviews, a qualitative analysis or shadowing (observation) with a social media analysis (desk research).
3) Interview Your Actual End-Users
That way, you can get valuable insights about your product or service from the group that enables you to exist. Additionally, you can compare such information with what you already know and see if you’re on the right track.
4) Ask Your Clients About Other Apps or Services They’re Using
And we’re not talking about any competitive products. With luck, this will help you to boost your CX by connecting your service with another app or product. For example, if you’re operating in the finance industry, you could offer a discount on cinema tickets.
5) Analyze Your Competition
If your customers are also using your competitors offer for similar (or, in some cases, also different) purposes, you can analyze how your product or service compares to it. Maybe having very high exchange rates for card payments scares most of your clients away and kills your revenue instead of boosting it?
6) Embrace Mapping
With system mapping, customer experience mapping or a customer journey map, you can establish how your customer's interaction with your product or service looks like from the beginning till the end. Due to the mentioned knowledge curse, it may be useful to rely on an external agency for such a task.
7) Use Service Blueprint
This technique shows the service delivery process form the customer’s perspective and is one of the most widely used tools to manage service design. With it, you can define the customer journey and see what happens after the first touchpoint (or more precisely, what happens behind it; obviously, the client can’t see any of that).
8) Analyze “physical evidence”
See if the materials related to your product or service (like emails, leaflets or marketing campaigns) are consistent with what you’re actually offering. False advertising can contribute to bad customer experience.
9) Try Event Storming
Finally, with this workshop-based method, you can find out what is happening in the domain of your product. The result is expressed in sticky notes on a wall and can be used as a means for business process modelling.
Final Step: Implementation (if Needed!)
With the above techniques, you’ll be able to understand where exactly lie the problems in your customer experience. Armed with that knowledge, you can try solving your customer's issues – and add even more value.
As a bonus, you also should be able to use some powerful customer experience boosters more consciously. Among them are, for example, explainable AI, multiexperience, or omnichanneling.