Customer Experience

Positive Customer Experience as a Success Factor

The experience that a customer has with a company is an essential factor for business success. The totality of all sensations and perceptions that arise on the customer’s path from first contact to the conclusion of the sale make up the the customer experience, aus. If the company succeeds in optimizing the customer experience in the best possible way, the scene is set for a successful and lasting customer relationship.

A positive customer experience (CX) ensures customer satisfaction, which is very likely to result in further purchases and recommendations to friends and acquaintances. This is extremely important in the digital age because while 25 years ago the only specialist retailer in the town was practically unrivaled, today dissatisfied customers simply visit another online shop for their next purchase – or recommend it to their friends and acquaintances. Therefore it is important for shop owners to have an eye on every step of the customer journey in order to ensure a particularly good customer experience. As part of customer relationship management (CRM), a cross-departmental customer experience strategy is crucial.

Don‘t Just Meet Customer Expectations – Exceed Them!

Today‘s wealth of possibilities offers companies numerous opportunities to position themselves uniquely with the customer. This is particularly important against the background of developments in the digital and technical sectors, which are generating new and changed behavior for customers when shopping. Buying habits and service expectations are continuously changing. The immediate answering of chat inquiries by chatbots, communication via social media, or the increasing spread of voice assistants are just three examples that show that companies are facing challenges.

To remain competitive, one has to be technically up-to-date to provide a satisfactory customer experience. One aspect that should not be underestimated is the customer’s enthusiasm for new functions and effective service support. With that one can create a „wow“ effect which makes the customer feel positive towards the brand and lays the foundation for a long-term customer relationship. So the goal must be here not only to meet customer expectations but to exceed them.

Strategies from marketing and management can effectively determine customer expectations, for example by means of short surveys and evaluations. Different methods and tools enable the collection of valuable data which can then be taken into account in corporate strategy.

Tracking, Analyzing, Optimizing: Strategic Customer Experience Management

In order to keep an eye on the needs and expectations of customers and to align the company accordingly, it is important to offer a good overall experience. Sales, marketing, product management, logistics, and customer service should work here hand in hand. With the right means, a 360-degree view can be achieved through which the increase in customer satisfaction can ensure sustainable competitiveness. This holistic approach helps brands understand their customers and respond to their wishes. Analysis of the collected data and the resulting concrete actions in all departments should be the focus of these efforts. Integrative and effective planning of all processes related to customer satisfaction is the prerequisite for the strategic management of the customer experience.

Through goal-oriented concepts, professional customer experience management (also known as CXM or CEM) can succeed in winning the hearts of the customers and keeping them bound to the company for years to come.

Creating a Customer Experience Map

Again and again, companies miss important customer interaction details along the customer journey. This type of operational blindness can stand in the way of optimally improving customer experience. A first step towards understanding the total experience from the customers' perspective at all touchpoints is the creation of a customer experience map. In the best case, this visualization includes all touchpoints along the customer journey, i.e. all possible points of contact and communication channels between the customer and the company. These are then examined further to reveal weaknesses.

Customer Journey Map

The goal should be to design all touchpoints both uniformly and purposefully. With the help of the customer experience map, the various departments can compare alignment and results again and again. Management is also able to keep an overview and intervene if necessary.

In addition, the customer experience map should also take into account aspects of the customer journey that are not related to the direct contact between customers and companies. After all, not every “customer trip” is limited to touchpoints – think, for example, of an exchange of experiences between neighbors who talk about a product or a brand across the garden fence.

Get Important Insights with Touchpoint Analysis

In the touchpoint analysis, there are two types of touchpoints:

Direct Touchpoints
Indirect Touchpoints
These touchpoints are actively set contact points, for example through advertising, social media posts or promotions. They can be actively influenced.
These touchpoints are not actively controllable contact points, both on and offline. They could be, for example, evaluation portals, oral testimonials or opinions expressed by third parties on internet forums.
Direct Touchpoints
Direct Touchpoints
These touchpoints are actively set contact points, for example through advertising, social media posts or promotions. They can be actively influenced.
These touchpoints are not actively controllable contact points, both on and offline. They could be, for example, evaluation portals, oral testimonials or opinions expressed by third parties on internet forums.

Depending on the company’s orientation, there is a different distribution of digital and analog touchpoints. A local business with an attached online shop, for example, probably has more analog touchpoints (e.g. flyers/brochures, customer cards and events) than a larger online retailer with warehouse sales. Offices, customer centers, and shop windows also play a role here. Digital touchpoints can be an internet presence, for example, a website/online shop, blog, social media account, rating portals or digital advertising.

In addition to touchpoint analysis, brands can use various methods to create the customer experience map. The interplay of data on the length of stay or entry routes (such as those Google Analytics offers) with the data from a customer survey (e.g. to determine the Net Promoter Score®) enables valuable insight into the customer experience and answers some open questions such as:

  • Why are purchases canceled at certain points?
  • On which pages of the online shop do customers leave the shop particularly often?
  • Which sources generate the most purchases?

The resulting comprehensive customer experience map helps companies to gain an overview of all their processes and recognize and improve on their weaknesses. It can lead to concrete goals and compares the results of the measures taken. The importance of improving individual touchpoints can also be determined in this way, and according to relevance, documented in a priority list for individual departments.

Buyer Journey vs. Customer Journey

The terms buyer journey and customer journey are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Nowadays, the sequence of phases on the customer journey changes again and again; the fast pace of the digital world has extended the decision time and before buying, prospective customers usually obtain additional information via various channels. The additional „persuasion“ required is the reason why the above-mentioned uniformity of touchpoints is so important with regard to design and wording. In addition, the ever-increasing number of digital touchpoints makes a strategic approach all the more important

Buyer Journey vs. Customer Journey

Only if the many individual experiences that a customer has up to the end of their purchase are both predominantly positive and leave a coherent overall impression will the customer experience be positive. It should be taken into account that the individual touchpoints over which a company has its own influence are usually not at the beginning of the path which ends in a customer making a purchase. Before this happens, they come into contact with the company as a brand or with one of its products or services - the company’s touchpoints must also be coordinated with these previous contact points. But which stations does the “customer journey” consist of?

  • The buyer journey is an important part of the customer journey: it includes the phases that a prospect goes through before buying. He is usually in three different states of mind: awareness, deliberation, decision. With the help of buyer personas and determining the respective position within the three phases, shops can play out exactly the content that is of interest to the potential customer in his respective phase and guide him towards the conclusion of the purchase.
  • When analyzing the customer journey, in addition to the steps towards the purchase decision, the phases after completing the first purchase are illuminated. Here, the first-time buyer should become a loyal customer and ideally a fan who recommends the products. For this purpose, survey methods to improve customer satisfaction should be carried out on an ongoing basis. This can take the form of, for example, determining the Net Promoter Score with zenloop.

Net Promoter Score in the Customer Journey

When collecting the Net Promoter Score (NPS®) with zenloop, short customer surveys in different phases of the customer journey are carried out. The question is asked with what probability a customer would recommend the company or the brand.

A rating scale from 0 to 10 and an answer field for a brief explanation of the rating given are the elements used to collect the NPS. The given feedback is extremely spontaneous and provides information about the customer experience at the selected touchpoints. Such feedback serves to divide customers into customer groups and determines improvement potential. Thanks to the brevity and intuitive design of the micro surveys the response rate is very high and therefore meaningful.

Customer Life Cycle: Anonymous Assessment of Individual Customers

The customer life cycle represents the entire process of the phases that a customer goes through from the first contact with the company to the probably very last purchase and thus the end of the customer journey. The goal of customer life cycle marketing is to persuade a customer to continue his customer journey with targeted measures such as email newsletters and offers. This succeeds with the placement of uniform and above all personalized content that attracts customers again and again and turns them into regular customers. While the customer journey cannot be fully controlled – as indirect touchpoints can also be present and play a role – the Customer Life Cycle can be influenced by these targeted measures.

Each of the following five phases of the customer life cycle can be supported by suitable marketing measures:

  • Awareness: first contact with the offer through advertising, offers, content or recommendations
  • Engagement: the customer has shown interest in the offer, the good first impression has to be confirmed
  • Evaluation: shortly before the purchase, the customer compares competitors and prices
  • Purchase: the interested party has decided and is becoming a buyer
  • Post-Purchase: newly acquired customers are made regular customers based on the targeted use of the information gained

If the company succeeds in shaping the customer experience positively and picks up the customer exactly where he is on his way to becoming a potential regular customer, there is a chance of a long-term customer relationship that will support the brand‘s growth.