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7 Ways to Provide an Awesome Customer Experience in 2016

Hannah Alvarez  |  December 29, 2015
2016 is going to be a big year for customer experience. According to Gartner, brands will compete more on the basis of CX than product differentiation. That means if you want to remain competitive, it’s time to invest in making positive changes for your customers. Along with any other product and revenue goals your company may have for 2016, consider adding this to your list of new year’s resolutions:
Provide an awesome experience to every customer, on every device, across every touchpoint.
Whether you’ve been working to improve your CX for a while, or you’ve just started thinking about it, there’s probably a lot of work still to be done. If you’re like most companies, you probably have at least a handful of touchpoints (think: automated emails, phone messages, landing pages, etc.) that are outdated, off-brand, and unhelpful to your customers.Here are seven things you can do in 2016 to help you meet that resolution.

1. Perform a content audit on your website.

This is no small effort but it’s extremely valuable. Running a content audit will help you identify any pages that are unhelpful or off-brand. Then you can either work to improve them, replace them, or remove them. If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to do this alone, there are plenty of online tools and content strategy agencies that can help you out. To learn more, we highly recommend reading through Moz’s content audit tutorial.

2. Create a voice and tone guide

The voice and tone guide is your company’s guidebook for using consistent, on-brand language in customer-facing communications. It can be as simple as a list of “say this, not that” guidelines. On the other hand, it could be much more extensive, including separate sections for written content, in-person communications, and phone interactions. You might want to include direction for different scenarios, such as what to say when a customer is confused versus when they’re unhappy. For inspiration, take a look at MailChimp's voice and tone guide.

3. Watch a customer complete a complex task with an omnichannel test

While it’s important to do basic usability testing of simple tasks (like adding items to the shopping cart and completing checkout), sometimes you need to watch a customer go through several stages of a longer purchase journey. Larger purchase decisions often involve days of research across multiple channels. To understand the buyer’s mindset and any pain points they encounter, you’ll want to conduct an omnichannel study that follows them through the key stages of their journey. For example, you could run an omnichannel study to observe a customer taking these steps:
  • Doing some initial research on different brands of bicycles on their smartphone
  • Comparing prices from two online stores on a desktop computer
  • Checking out their top two bicycle choices in your brick-and-mortar store

4. Learn how customers interact with your brand over time with a longitudinal or diary study

Your relationship with your customer extends beyond a single purchase. To learn how a customer interacts with your company over time, you can conduct a longitudinal study. You can observe how customers interact with an individual product over the course of several days or weeks with remote longitudinal studies. This will help you determine where they overcome the product’s learning curve—and how long they remain engaged with the product. Or, if you want to learn how customers’ feelings about your company change over time, you can run a diary study. In a diary study, you can have customers in your target market document each interaction they have with your brand, whether it’s a promotional email, an ad, a website or app visit, or an in-store purchase.

5. Build a customer journey map

A customer journey map can be a helpful tool for finding the high and low points of your customer experience. It’s also a great exercise to help your team develop empathy for your customers. To start your map, you’ll identify common activities your customers complete at different stages of their relationship with your company. You’ll match those activities to different channels, such as your desktop website, mobile site, mobile app, or in-person. Finally, you’ll plot high and low points in the customer experience onto the map. If you’re new to this exercise, check out our guide to customer journey mapping.

6. Host training sessions and customer-centric activities for the team

When you’re investing company resources in improving the customer experience, it’s important to make sure your team members understand what’s being done and why. Here are a handful of team activities you can do to spread a customer-centric culture at your company:
  • Hold brown-bag training meetings to help customer-facing team members present a consistent, on-brand voice in their interactions
  • Invite members of different teams to watch video clips from user tests
  • Display quotes from customers in the office where everyone can see them
  • Encourage representatives from multiple departments to contribute to the customer journey map

7. Reserve a seat at the conference table for the customer

Some of the most customer-centric companies actually leave an open seat at the table during every meeting. Whether a customer attends the meeting or not, the purpose is to remind the team that customers should have a voice in important decisions. It helps keep the impact on the customer top-of-mind.

How are you going to improve your CX in 2016?

Have anything to add to the list? What are you going to work on first? Tell us about it on Twitter.  
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About the author:

Hannah is a content manager, dedicated to helping marketers and designers build amazing experiences. In her free time, she likes making things and going on adventures.