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Guide to Mastering Great Customer Experience

Guide to Mastering Great Customer Experience

I would like to begin by defining the term “customer experience”. Nowadays, this phrase is used as a buzzword. But, in simple terms, it is every contact point between a client and your business from when they recognise and discover you up to when they purchase and use your product or service, including any post-purchase support interactions.

By any means necessary, customer experience should make clients feel valued, appreciated, understood, and delighted at every touchpoint. It should involve efforts beyond their expectations in relevant and memorable manners.

“Isn’t that just good customer service?” — You may ask. Yes, but not only so! Excellent customer care is integral to a positive overall experience; however, it doesn’t go deep enough as CX does. This means it covers all aspects of your organisation’s model, even up to its culture, which some might say even touches upon why you exist as an entity.

It’s About Emotions

What makes one customer journey suck while another rocks their world? Feelings. The most successful companies establish strong emotional links, turning buyers into brand ambassadors.

Consider this: we love certain brands so much that no matter what happens, we won’t mind paying extra bucks for them, plus defending them with our last breath. Why? Rarely is it about the products themselves… instead how these brands make us feel: valued, motivated or inspired perhaps? Therefore, according to top organisations, emotions fuel loyalty advocacy and lifetime value, among other benefits of emotional connections.

Why Incredible CX Should Be Your Top Priority

Csat Kpis For Customer Service

I hope I have convinced you that creating a great customer experience is not just an option but a necessity for any business competing in the experience economy today. 

But you may need more reasons. Here are some compelling reasons why making the customer experience the centre of your company is so important.

Provides Huge Competitive Advantage

Differentiated customer service becomes one of the most sustainable competitive advantages when many products and services become commoditised. While others cut down on costs and drive customers mad, you can attract lifelong fans by doing just one thing – treating them exceptionally well.

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Happier Customers = More $$$

Were you aware that boosting retention rates by as little as five per cent can spike profits from twenty-five to ninety-five per cent? It is pretty astonishing, isn’t it? By comparison, winning new clients can cost five to twenty-five times more than keeping existing ones. You have to give customers what they want, and they will return with money.

Creates Priceless Word-of-Mouth Advertising

No advertising works better than having passionate customer advocates rave about your brand over social networks or directly to friends and colleagues. Craft experiences so good people cannot help but talk about them – and watch new business pour through your doors.

Engages Employees Through Experience

Focusing on customers often energises employees, too. This happens because when staff members realise how much impact their jobs could have on others’ lives, it reignites enthusiasm, leading to increased engagement among such workers.

So, What Does Stellar CX Look Like In Action?

Let’s see real-world examples of brands that have killed it with customer experience to get your creative juices flowing.

Zappos: Customer Service So Good It’s Like a Religion

You can never forget Zappos when talking about companies that know how to create a good customer experience. They believe in wowing customers with ridiculously excellent service. There have been stories of people from the call centre chatting on the phone for hours or sending someone flowers when they were having a bad day. Once, an employee even stayed on the line while a woman drove home because she was lonely and just wanted to talk – which had nothing to do with shoes!

Zappos Great Customer Experience

While that level of attention may only be feasible for some businesses, what truly sets Zappos apart is its fanatical culture around customer service. Every new employee has to work in the call centre for a few weeks, agent bios (including full names) are published online next to their pictures, and bonuses are given based on personal performance reviews from customers who called in.

It’s no wonder people love them so much – Zappos has created an army of cult followers who spread the word far and wide!

First Direct: Making Banking Personal Through Data

Financial services can often feel very impersonal and dry. Still, UK bank First Direct is doing everything possible to change that perception by using data to make customers feel warm and fuzzy inside and figuratively speaking.

First Direct uses over 5,000 data points per person (!) to anticipate needs and provide delightful surprises. For instance, if someone travels abroad (as shown by their data), they might proactively notify them about currency exchange rates for their destination city while also flagging the trip so cards don’t get declined. Little things like saying happy birthday or congratulations on a new job can significantly influence people's feelings about their bank.

The outcome? People think of their financial institution as more than just a faceless utility – and that’s why First Direct leads in customer retention and growth.

Starbucks: Mobile Mastery

Starbucks has created the gold standard for mobile app and loyalty program experiences. Period. Their app is sticky because it leverages game mechanics such as levels and badges, creating delightful feedback loops that keep users engaged for extended periods (and more frequently).

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However, they win with how seamlessly they integrate their app into the rest of the Starbucks retail experience. It truly guides customers through the entire “journey” – from finding the nearest store location to placing a mobile order, paying with rewards or Apple Pay, accessing premium Wi-Fi while in-store…the list goes on.

It’s a great example of using technology to enhance and seamlessly blend digital and physical touchpoints to create new value (and make life easier) for customers.

The Key Ingredients for Exceptional Customer Experiences

Chick Fil A Customer Service

Hopefully, those brands will inspire you for what's possible when you get the right customer experience. Now let's break down some core principles and ingredients for cooking up your own signature experiences that ‘wow':

Make Experiences Intuitive & Effortless

Nothing kills a good customer experience quicker than unnecessary friction and hassles. The best experiences are intuitive, low-effort, and easy to use. Map out each customer touchpoint in their journey and strive to eliminate any pain points or convoluted steps. Streamline processes, anticipate needs, and reduce customer effort in any way you can.

Create Moments of Delight

While reducing friction is the starting baseline, you'll need to dial things up to 11 to delight customers in memorable ways. Look for opportunities to bake in surprise, personalisation, education, and entertainment value. Turn mundane transactions into special moments through thoughtful attention to detail.

Empower Employees to Make it Right.

No matter how hard you try, mistakes and service hiccups will inevitably happen sometimes. That's why empowering employees with the training, tools and autonomy needed to make situations right on their own is so important. Liberate them to go above and beyond to deliver resolutions that create raving fans instead of churn.

Turn Customers into Your Biggest Advocates

At the highest level of customer experience maturity, you cultivate such deep emotional connections that customers become your most fervent fans and brand evangelists. This level of passionate loyalty and free word-of-mouth advocacy is invaluable. Create communities where customers can engage, feel heard, and even co-create experiences with you.

Make it a Cultural Obsession.

The essential thread running through every company revered for customer experience? A cultural obsession that becomes part of their very DNA. Customer-centric core values and philosophies must be ingrained into every initiative, policy, process and hire from the top down—Prioritise continuous journey mapping, feedback loops, empathy exercises and more to embed customer-first thinking organization-wide.

Getting Started: How to Elevate Experiences

Consumer Decision Making Journey

Ready to transform your customer experience and delight customers left and right? Here's a high-level game plan to kickstart your efforts:

Map The Entire Customer Journey

The first step is understanding all the touchpoints involved in your current customer experience across every channel — from your website and mobile presence to sales interactions, product use, support, billing and more. Exhaustively map out this journey as customers experience it. Identify any pain points, bottlenecks, and moments of misalignment between channels.

Gather Voice of Customer Feedback

With your journey map in hand, gather voice-of-customer feedback through surveys, social listening, support call analysis and more. Validate your assumptions and uncover blind spots by deeply understanding your customers' struggles, goals, and perceptions. Use tools like customer effort scoring to quantify their experience.

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Prioritise Opportunities for Quick Wins

While envisioning your ideal reimagined experience, look for easy tweaks and no-brainer improvements you can implement quickly to deliver rapid “wins” and momentum. Perhaps updating confusing website copy, improving response times, or fixing that clunky return policy. 

Craft Your Ideal Future Experience

With all your research and feedback, start ideating and designing your vision for an exceptional, differentiated end-to-end experience tailored to your customer needs and personas. Involve cross-functional teams to dream up creative ways to streamline journeys, add value and deliver delightful “wow” moments. Create prototypes and run experiential storyboards to pressure test ideas.

Transform Supporting Processes & Technology

Delivering great experiences requires transforming your operations and arming employees with the right processes, training and tech tools. You may need to break down organisational silos, update cumbersome policies, integrate disparate systems and deploy technologies like CRM, knowledge bases, etc. Take a holistic look at your entire operation through a customer experience lens.

Foster a Customer-Obsessed Culture

As you start rolling out new experiences, make customer-centricity a core part of your company culture and values. Educate teams on experience principles through activities like customer journey mapping, “cloud” scenarios where employees experience your products themselves, and more. Design incentives and accountabilities across the company tied to customer metrics.

Embrace Agility — Continuous Iteration is Key

Building great customer experiences is not a one-and-done process but a continuous cycle of iteration and optimisation based on data and feedback. Design robust voice-of-customer programs that combine quantitative metrics like NPS scores with qualitative practices like ethnographic research. Proactively uncover future customer needs and competitive threats through activities like trend spotting.

Incredible Customer Experiences = Remarkable Business Results

This customer experience stuff sounds like a lot of work, right? Rethinking your operations and adopting sweeping cultural changes isn't a casual undertaking.

However, consider this powerful statistic: Companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80% in profits.

Let that figure sink in. Not 8%… 80%. That's the power of genuinely mastering customer experience as a competitive advantage.

By becoming gatekeepers of simple, frictionless and downright magical experiences, you foster powerful emotional connections with customers that keep them returning ravenously. You drive untold amounts of growth from word-of-mouth advocacy and loyalty. You cultivate energised, mission-driven cultures that empower employees to be more innovative and more impactful than any individual product or price point.

Final Takeaways

So, let's leave it at this:

In today's age of infinite options, the Experience is the Product. Experiences shape perceptions, trigger emotions, and ultimately dictate the success or failure of businesses across every industry. Those who elevate customer experience to an unwavering strategic priority and cultural obsession will be the winners who attract undying fans and reap the profits.

Are you ready to purposefully design experiences so beneficial, seamless and human… that your customers simply cannot resist raving about you?

Frequently Asked Questions on Providing Great Customer Experiences:

How can I motivate employees to care about customer experience?

Tie rewards, bonuses, and recognition to customer satisfaction metrics. Share positive feedback and examples of employees going above and beyond. Foster an environment where everyone understands the mission.

What kind of training helps promote good customer experience?

Situational role-playing and empathy exercises include following the customer journey, having open discussions on what good/bad experiences feel like, and sharing inspiring stories of exceptional service.

How do you measure and analyse the customer experience?

Tools like customer effort scores, net promoter scores, social media sentiment analysis and direct user feedback channels. Always combine metrics with qualitative practices like ethnographic research.

How can I prioritise which touchpoints need to be improved first?

Map defectors — where are you losing the most customers? Prioritise the highest impact “make or break” moments and any glaring usability issues first.

What's more important — getting the product perfect or nailing the experience?

Both are crucial, but experiences shape perceptions and emotions around your product. You can have a fantastic product, but if the surrounding experiences frustrate customers, it won't matter.

I operate in a commodity/price-sensitive industry — can experience still be a differentiator?

Absolutely! Often, commodity businesses think experience doesn't matter, but it can be THE differentiator. With similar prices/products, how you make customers feel is what sets you apart.

What's one slight, easy experience improvement I can make today?

Reducing customer effort by simplifying support processes or ensuring fast response times. Even small courtesies like thanking and apologising can elevate experiences.

What CX metrics should executives and teams be focused on?

Net Promoter Scores, Customer Satisfaction/Effort Scores, Churn Rate, Brand Sentiment and Direct Feedback are significant high-level indicators. Also, track revenue metrics like AOV and retention tied to CX.

How do you maintain consistently great experiences at scale?

Develop robust training, knowledge bases, quality assurance and enablement for front-line teams. Use technology like CRM, ticketing systems and chatbots to streamline processes. Make it systemic through culture and accountability.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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