Customer experience (CX) is one of the most critical aspects of your website, and what customers remember long after they've clicked away. Creating a personalised and positive experience for consumers shows them you care about gaining their business and keeping it.
In a survey of online marketers, the majority felt customer experience was the most critical factor driving success into 2019. Instituting a few changes for a more positive CX isn't rocket science. A few key practices make a big difference. Here are 10 ways to create a better experience through your website, store and print graphics.
1. Embrace Transparency
More than 50 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand with transparency on social media channels. Transparency should be part of your overall company culture. If you make a mistake, own up to it and explain how you'll fix it for your customers. If you make a significant change, inform your loyal clients of the change and why you made it.
Transparency builds a sense of trust between you and your customers.
2. Start With Internal Policies
Your employees are the face of your brand — if you treat them well, it will show. If you want your customers to have a fantastic experience with your brand, treat your employees well. They should love working for you so much they'd never consider going elsewhere. Employees who enjoy their company and feel appreciated become the best brand ambassadors imaginable.
Publix has a reputation for their positive corporate atmosphere, even providing tuition reimbursement for their employees. They ranked among Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" for 21 years straight. Benefits include health care, free flu shots, holiday bonuses, a 401(K) with matching funds and service awards.
3. Offer Navigational Signage
For your brick-and-mortar stores or at trade shows, add navigational signage to make the customer experience seamless. For example, if your customers go through a series of steps after entering your store, clearly label each stage in the process. Think about signage — both hanging and on the floor — to direct your customers and make their experience easy.
4. Add Multi-Channel Experiences
We live in a digital age where people have a device with them at all times and stay connected 24/7. Consumers want multiple ways of interacting with brands, even if they mainly visit a local branch of the company. Banks are an excellent example of businesses that have had to adapt to a multi-device, omni-channel experience.
Wells Fargo offers a multi-channel experience for their users. Bank customers can check balances and make transfers and deposits from anywhere. Although the bank offers ATMs and local branches, people can also manage their accounts online without ever visiting a physical location. Customers can also download their app for easier access to banking details. They offer accounts for individuals and businesses, as well as student loans, retirement planning and mortgages.
5. Gather Feedback
Improve your customer service and the overall CX by gathering feedback from your current customers. Pay attention to any complaints and fix issues in the purchase process. Actively seek input through polls and questions to your existing customers. Ask what they love and what needs improving.
However, once you see patterns of complaints, you must then act to fix issues within your brand. If 80 per cent of your customers complain delivery time is too slow, and you don't take steps to fix the problem, you risk losing those customers.
6. Go the Extra Mile
When stories about outstanding customer service go viral, it's almost always because the company went far above and beyond what people needed or expected. If you have a regular customer who already loves your brand, look for opportunities to personalise your service a bit and thank them for their loyalty. They are likely to tell others about their experience and expand your reach.
Peter Shankman is in public relations and often travels in his line of work. One day, he hungrily tweeted and tagged his favourite steakhouse that he'd love a steak when he got off his plane. The restaurant not only brought him a steak, but had an employee drive 23 miles to do so. He posted on his blog and social media about the experience, giving them some positive PR in the process. Look above at his original tweet and then the image of Morton's delivering him a steak.
7. Speed up Response Time
A powerful improvement to your CX comes when you speed up your response time. In a survey, researchers found [customers' No. 1 complaint](https://www.hotjar.com/blog/customer-experience#5) was response time. Even if they've only reached out with a fundamental question, or if the customer must wait for a response longer than a few minutes, dissatisfaction sets in. You're sending a message that you don't care about the customer's time and how long they had to wait for a response.
8. Know Your Audience
How many times have you heard this advice? Experts repeat the information to know who your target audience is because it impacts where you market, how you market and how you meet the needs of your customers. If your audience is mainly millennials, you know your mobile experience had better be up to par. If your audience is primarily baby boomers, they want the interaction of a real person on the other end of the phone or in person.
9. Find Your Personality
Whether designing for online or a print ad, it's important to understand the personality of your brand and how it speaks to your target audience. Your brand personality comes through in the wording you choose and your brand's colour palette. If you sell party supplies, you want a young, fun vibe and not something overly serious. Find your personality as a company and make sure it shines through everything you do. People want an experience, so give them one.
10. Map Your Customers' Journey
When a customer lands on your website or walks into your store, where do you want them to go next? Take time to map out your customer's ideal journey from Point A to Point B. The goal is to remove obstacles and distractions, so the customer remains focused on the task at hand.
Mapping the customer journey looks different for different types of businesses, so think through the goal and take steps backward from there.
CX Changes Your ROI
Good CX strategies result in better return on investment, or ROI. Implement changes as you notice areas to serve customers better. Devoting time and energy to nurturing the relationship between your brand and your customers pays off in loyal return customers and word-of-mouth advertising.
Lexie Lu is a CX strategist and web designer. Lexie is a contributor to Marketo, Website Magazine and Envato. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.