10 Ways to Better Understand Customers to Improve CX

A quality customer experience is key to thriving in a highly competitive market landscape.

As Rick Parrish, VP and research director at Forrester, said in the US 2022 Customer Experience Index report: “CX quality in the US, which reached new heights in 2021, has fallen to pre-pandemic levels due to brands losing their customer focus. For brands to regain CX momentum, leaders will need to refocus their behavior on helping their companies become customer-obsessed.”

Developing a strong CX strategy, therefore, is critical. What can businesses do to ensure customers get the exceptional experience they are increasingly coming to expect? We asked sales professionals and directors what the one thing that businesses should do to improve CX.

From training staff for emotional intelligence to designing loyalty programs that encourage reviews, there are several ideas that may help you to deliver the best possible experience for your customers.

Here are 10 recommendations for providing quality customer experiences:

  1. Gain Customer Feedback Before You Strategize
    All CX strategies require a level of understanding of people’s lifestyles, wants and needs. It may sound simple, but many marketers and CX professionals live in an echo chamber of peers, talking about the product or services in a bubble. Fundamentally, a CX strategy created in isolation will not bring your team any closer to understanding what makes for a positive or negative customer experience. Organizations need to speak to consumers before they become customers and interact with a brand, rather than relying on feedback such as surveys after the fact.
    – Jim Longo, Discuss
  2. Supplement Chatbots with a Live Chat System
    While plenty of customer experience initiatives are already AI-powered and automated, maintaining a live chat with human customer support gives better insight to understand customers. A live chat with a person from the customer support team can process customer emotions, quirks, and nuances that chatbots fail to understand in most instances. Many customers are more comfortable and prefer to talk to a human instead of an automated system, which helps them reach actionable solutions based on real-life experiences.
    – Nunzio Ross, Majesty Coffee
  3. Don’t Neglect Qualitative Feedback
    In an age of automation, it can be easy to dismiss tasks that aren’t ‘scalable’, but for certain types of insights there’s a real value in dialing it back and simply speaking to customers. There’s really no substitute for having a detailed, in-depth conversation if you want to deeply understand your customers’ wants, needs, pain points and ideal solutions. Taking the time to collect this qualitative data can pay dividends, as it allows you to dig much deeper than is possible on the lighter-touch methods like surveys. With qualitative feedback, it’s easier to truly understand how you can improve your product, service or processes to optimize your customers’ experience with you.
    – Saadia Hussain, Pearl Scan

  4. Train Staff for Emotional Intelligence
    Providing emotional intelligence training to employees, especially client-facing staff, is a powerful way to deliver better customer experiences. It is essential to understand that beyond the logistics of service, clients’ feelings about a brand are linked to emotional experiences. It is not enough just to provide a product or service, you must also take customers’ emotions into the equation. By providing emotional intelligence training, your staff can learn to identify the customer’s moods through cues, practice patience, regulate their own emotions, and offer effective interventions. These skills can help your employees take control of tense situations, offer solace to upset customers, and turn negative experiences into positive outcomes.
    – Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding
  5. Know the Best Route for Your Client
    Understanding how the consumer feels in their purchase process is essential for companies to stand out in the market. A customer journey map can be used to identify points for improvement, so be sure to record all the paths that can be taken to the final action to understand what difficulties and eases may arise. In addition to mapping their journey, you need to understand what your client expects, what type of information they are receiving at each stage, and if at any point there is something that makes it difficult to purchase or renew service. With the knowledge gained from this process, you’ll be able to have a broader vision of the paths you take to act, which translates into more agile and strategic decision-making.
    – Ilija Sekulov, Mailbutler
  6. Engage Post-Interaction to Improve Customer Experience
    Businesses looking to better understand their audience would be wise to engage heavily with former customers, allowing them to gain a comprehensive perspective of customers’ experiences. The information gained from these responses can directly inform decisions made to improve future CX, allowing you to streamline processes and bolster customer retention. Engaging with customers post-interaction will also provide the opportunity to give support, something which goes a long way towards turning customers into brand advocates. This is particularly beneficial for businesses that rely on heavy word-of-mouth, where social proof and brand advocacy are key to success.
    – Teresha Aird, Offices.net
  7. Leverage Social Listening
    The advantage of being in the digital age is that many users take to social media to express their opinion about everything. By using social listening, we can monitor what our target audience, users, customers and potential customers have to say about our products or services as well as how they compare to our competitors. When collecting this data, businesses will be able to analyze the pros and cons of their products or services and what users think about them. Using this data, businesses can improve the product, the customer journey and ensure that users have a better experience.
    – Michael Nemeroff, Rush Order Tees
  8. Use Your Own Product or Service Like a Customer
    Follow the customer journey exactly as a customer would do. No shortcuts. Ask five to ten people on your team, especially junior folks who don’t know as much about your business, to be a customer for a day. They will soon discover pain points all along the path from being a prospect, to a customer, to a return customer and a customer who advocates on behalf of your brand. Take note of everything that frustrates you, confuses you, or even bores you along the journey. These are your opportunities to optimize your customer experiences.
    – Scott Lieberman, Touchdown Money
  9. Ensure Everyone on Your Team Has Had Front-Facing Experience
    Customer service is essential to building a better customer experience, which is why I think everyone in an organization should take time to actively take part in the ‘front facing’ roles in order to better understand how to serve their consumers. Whether in a shop, or on a phone, or even service over email – all people in the organization understanding that process and having hands-on experience will make for better discussions that truly prove how to better their customer service. It’s time to stop making those plans behind closed doors and really take time to know your customer, no matter what your role is.
    – Phil Scully, Freelance
  10. Design Loyalty Programs that Encourage Reviews
    Understanding your customers only requires you to listen, and that’s why creating loyalty programs that incentivize reviews is the best way to learn what they want and deliver a better customer experience. Although businesses receive other feedback, it is often a limited sample that normally covers the extremes, meaning they are either raving about your business or are very upset with it. However, by creating customer loyalty programs that encourage reviews, you can acquire a greater sample that has balance. Customers can signify what they liked and at the same time where they think your business might have fallen short. This in turn provides valuable information, both positive and negative, with which you can more readily identify your strengths and weaknesses, make more accurate assessments, and deliver a better customer experience.
    – Greg Gillman, MuteSix

To learn more about how to take your CX strategy to the next level, read our guide: “Supercharge Your CX Program.”

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