Do you have a brand that you go back to, time and time again?
If you do, what is it about this brand that’s captured your loyalty?
I do not doubt that an exceptional customer experience plays its part. That is, think about how that brand makes you feel. Good huh?
According to Bain & Company, businesses that invest time and effort to optimize their customer experience (CX) flows, experience above-market revenue growth between 4-8%. With the vast choice of products, services and brands available, exceptional customer experience comes as the ultimate seduction and differentiation for businesses to stand out above competitors.
In this Process Street article, you’ll learn how to engage your customers at every point in their journey with you. You’ll learn how to consistently create a service with a smile, a product to praise, and a beloved brand.
Learn from the best as we take a glimpse into the CX operations used by the likes of Netflix, Microsoft, and of course Process Street. You’ll then be given 5 tips on how you can optimize your CX flows, taking into account the changing business landscape, and the impacts of digitalization on customer behavior and experience.
Click on the relevant subheader to jump to your section of choice. Alternatively, scroll down to read all for an in-depth understanding of CX.
- What is CX?
- Case studies: How top tech companies deliver excellent CX
- How to optimize your customer experience flows
- Using checklists to optimize your CX flows in 5 steps
- Understanding customer experience flows in a digital world
What is CX?
A customer experience (CX) refers to how a business engages with its customers at every point the customer interacts with a given brand, product, or service (customer touchpoints). In a large part, you can think of CX as the sum of all the interactions a customer has with your brand.
This brings me to a key point: Delivering excellent customer experiences lies in the hands of your entire workforce, not one siloed department – remember this point.
Once more, you can’t train up your customer service team to smile, be polite, and talk nicely and expect your customers to love your brand. That won’t bring you to CX standards delivered by the likes of Microsoft, Netflix, and Process Street 😉.
That’s because deploying customer service is a reactive response to a poor customer experience. You want to prevent these poor experiences in the first place. For that, enlist help from all departments using optimized CX flows.
How do you optimize your CX flows and integrate action from your entire workforce?
Keep reading, as the answer to that lies in this article. But first, what are the benefits of optimized CX flows and how can they increase revenue by 8%?
Why is CX important?
Every customer touchpoint can make or break your customer relationships. Each touchpoint presents important decisions to be made, and these decisions will ultimately influence the success of your business.
As products, services, and brands become commoditized, prospects and your customers are more likely to differentiate based on experience as opposed to specific product/service/brand features and functions. So much so that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
Key point: Customer experience is everything and creates the differentiation you need to beat your competition.
The writing is on the wall – queue Sam Smith’s song – below is proof that you need to invest in optimizing your CX flows:
- We’re living in a commodity trap – the vast choice of products, services, and brands available leaves consumers swimming in a sea of sameness. Optimized CX flows give differentiation. As such, companies with a CX mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than their competitive counterparts.
- An increasing number of organizations are investing to better their CX. Today, 2/3rds of organizations compete on this level, up from 36% in 2010.
- Companies that lead with customer experience outperform laggers by nearly 80%.
- 84% of companies that improve their customer experience report revenue increases.
- 89% of Gartner surveyed companies consider customer experience to be the new competitive battlefield.
- Aquiring new customers can be x5 more expensive than retaining existing ones. It, therefore, pays to deliver positive experiences to retain these customers.
- Increasing customer retention by delivering exceptional customer experiences can increase profits between 25% and as high as 95%.
- Selling to your existing customers has a 60-70% higher success rate than selling to new customers (which has a 5-20% success rate).
- 96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
- 73% of consumers say a good brand experience is the key to influencing their brand loyalties.
- 77% of consumers state that inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
Case studies: How top tech companies deliver excellent CX
Oo-la-la…excellent CX is the ultimate seduction. And no, I don’t mean a creepy, poor-chat-up-line fling – we’re talking about cloud nine love affairs between you and your customers.💘
Think about it, do you have a brand that you come back to time and time again?
I do, I love the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia. 🤩
I make all my outdoor clothing purchases from this label, even with cheaper options available. Why? Because Patagonia’s commitment to driving business sustainability aligns strongly with my core moral values. And once more, I’ve always – that’s right always – had a positive experience with the brand. For instance, when my 8-year-old rucksack’s belt broke, it was easy to contact the Patagonia team who arranged the bag’s repair in a matter of days.
And I’m not the only one to be strongly seduced by a company’s customer experience tactics. Listen to ⬇ John Boccuzzi ⬇ – he travels miles and takes an entire day vacation for new glasses.
Thinking about specific customer experience tactics, below I’ve detailed a selection of top-performing tech companies, and looked at how they are getting their customer experience right.
Violins and roses at the ready…let’s take a lesson in CX from the pros.
CX flows at Netflix uses personalization strategies
Netflix delivers personalized content based on customer preferences and past behaviors.
For instance, Netflix’s personalization engine recommends media users will enjoy. This engine increases in accuracy as the user inputs more ratings.
For instance, my love for crime and thrillers is evident as soon as I log into my Netflix account – to my housemate’s annoyance who loathes anything with suspense and alarm.
“Netflix has great quality service…They also show you what you might be interested in by what you watch. A big variety of new movies and series as well as old ones you might have forgotten.” – Carol of Indianapolis, IN, Consumer Affairs
CX flows at Microsoft prioritizes customer feedback
Microsoft champions listening to the thoughts and feelings of their customers, responding positively to feedback given.
Also, Microsoft posts customer feedback forums collecting suggestions and customer votes on their favorite feature ideas.
CX flows at Process Street fosters emotional connectedness
Customers engage with brands they feel they have an emotional connection with. To spark this connection, companies should identify their customer’s emotional motivations – e.g. the desire to feel successful, unique, or have a sense of belonging.
At Process Street we inspire to make our customers happy 😊. We want to know our customer’s pain points and how we can solve these to make your life easier.
“You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the web. I most certainly will recommend this website!” – Roger Elwell – Customer Success Onboarding: Learn How to Improve Profitability and Reduce Customer Churn, Process Street blog
Our blog content and collection of free pre-made templates are excellent examples of how we do this. We know what problems business owners, employees, and teams across the globe face, and work hard to give actionable tips and guidance on how to solve these problems. And we do this in a way that connects, providing enjoyable articles that engage, entertain, and inspire.
“Hey, that is a pretty inspiring article. Has given me some ideas and even motivation to reposition our small company as an environmentally better solution for our customers (on top of all the other benefits we already offer). Maybe even encourage our customers to do the same and get the ecological snowball rolling faster and bigger.” – Anthony – Rebuilding Our World With Sustainable Cities (& What This Means for Businesses), Process Street blog
How to optimize your customer experience flows in 5 steps
Right-O, let’s move onto the nitty-gritty, after all, this is what you’re reading this article to find out – how do you optimize your CX flows?
In this article, we share our 5 top tips for how to optimize your CX flows.
Tip #1: Understand the customer journey and the customer touchpoints
A customer journey describes the path of sequential steps and interactions a customer goes through with a product, service, or brand. The customer journey is usually broken down into stages and sub-stages in a journey map.
A customer journey map gives the framework needed to understand key customer touchpoints and was first introduced by OxfordSM in 1998.
The four stages of a customer journey (the four key customer touchpoints) are:
- Consider 💭
During the consideration phase, the prospect will move from a passive advertisement observer to a potential customer. Brands making it to this stage are more likely to be purchased relative to brands that don’t.
- Evaluate 📊
During the evaluation phase, the prospect is aware of an initial set of products. They can then get to work and evaluate these products via researching what else is in-market and making comparisons. Brands not in the initial consideration phase get a second chance at this point. The consumer will learn more about the market and what’s on offer. It’s at this stage where positive customer engagement strategies become vital, as these can differentiate your brand/product/service from another.
- Buy 💸
The customer has chosen a vendor, agrees on the solution the vendor supplies, and signs a contract. The implementation process begins and an internal rollout team is formed. It’s important during this phase that the solution provider helps the customer meet their goals. Determine success criteria that will evaluate whether the customer is meeting these goals, e.g. what KPIs need to be considered? You might also want to perform A/B testing for your advertising analytics to see how different strategies influence prospect reach.
- Enjoy, advocate and bond 🤝
Once a consumer has made the purchase, you want them to continue their journey with you. Without this loyalty, your customers are passive and will continue to consider and evaluate your competitors. At this point you need to truly hone in on the customer experience and engagement you deliver for ongoing care and maintenance, to convert the quiet, passive consumer into a vocal advocate.
Note that the customer journey is not the same as the sales funnel. A customer journey specifically looks at how the customer’s behavior changes.
A customer will rarely follow a sequential order in their journey with you. That’s right, your customer behavior is, to a degree, unpredictable. That’s why it’s necessary to view the customer journey holistically, with interconnected and overlapping touchpoints.
With a mapped out customer journey, you can identify customer pain points and the factors that influence the customer’s purchase decisions. Without a true understanding of the customer journey, it’s more difficult for brands to connect with their customers, at the right time, using the appropriate communication channels.
To help you map out your customer journey, use Process Street’s Customer Journey Map Template – for free – and obtain a clear understanding of the customer journey and key customer touchpoints.
Key checklist feature: Approvals streamline the assessment process of the customer journey map by the relevant customer service and marketing directors. They can seamlessly give the go-ahead or rejection (with comments) as required.
Tip #2: Create a user experience map
A user experience (UX) map, also known as a customer experience map, is the documented journey of a customer’s interactions with your product/service/brand throughout their life span.
Wait, doesn’t this sound familiar to a customer journey map?
It’s a common misconception to confuse the terms UX maps with customer journey maps. The latter focuses on the customer’s behavior at the different touchpoints, and how your business efforts impact this behavior. The customer journey map forms a backboard for your UX map. Your UX map then details the feelings and experiences of your customers as they wander through their journey with you.
How do you create a UX map?
You can create a UX amp by following the listed steps below:
- Nail down your goals 🔨
Set objectives and goals for your UX map. Maybe you’re trying to reduce a ghastly churn rate? Or you’re aiming for a 5 ⭐ rating? Whatever the reason, identify your goals and keep them in consideration when producing your UX map.
- Define your personas 👤
A UX map is an emotional blueprint for your customers. However, it’s impossible for every customer to have the same needs, expectations, wants, and pain points. Break down your customer types into user personas with the idea that each persona has a different route to – and with – your brand. To find out how to create customer profiles for your different personas, read: Reach the Right People & Get the Right Result With a Customer Profile
- Identify user goals and touchpoints within the customer journey 📝
Using your laid out and detailed customer journey, plot the customer (personas) goals that occur through each journey stage. Detail the experiences the customer will have on the way to reaching their goals and potential touchpoints. For instance, during the evaluation phase, the customer’s goal may be to find a quality product that works. In this instance, customer touchpoints will include product reviews that give a prospect a gist of the brand’s reputation.
To find out more about UX maps, read: Upgrade the Customer Journey with User Experience Maps and Reduce Churn.
Tip #3: CX metrics and KPIs to measure the customer experience
How do you know whether or not your providing an excellent customer experience if you have no means of quantifying how you’re doing?
CX KPIs and metrics enable teams to collect the right data to measure customer satisfaction and organize customer information. Without this information, you’ll struggle to effectively deliver a positive customer experience.
Once more, measuring customer experience allows you to draw correlations between CX and monetary improvements, customer satisfaction, churn, and customer loyalty.
The KPIs and metrics you use will depend on your business, customers, and industry, but below I’ve listed common measures to consider:
- The Net Promoter Score: The Net Promotor Score (NPS) is one of the most common customer experience metrics. It attempts to measure loyalty to a brand via asking one question; how likely is it that you’ll recommend [servce/product/brand] to a friend? NPS is typically quantified using a 0-10 rating corresponding to not at all likely and extremely likely respectively. Calculating the overall NPS requires eliminating neutral responses, and subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Bain and Company, who founded the NPS system, suggest that NPS values above 50 are excellent and anything above 80 is world-class.
- Customer Satisfaction Score: The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is another common metric used to gauge whether or not your customers are having a positive experience with your brand. This measure asks the question how would you rate your overall satisfaction with the [service, product/brand] you received? Again, customers will respond on a rating system, usually from 1 to 5 – with 1 being unsatisfied and 5 being very satisfied. Neutral responses are eliminated, and positive responses are divided by the total response number. The value is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage score. A good CSAT score will typically fall between 75% and 85%.
- Customer Churn Rate: Customer Churn Rate measures the rate of repeat customers. There are a variety of ways to calculate this metric, e.g. the number of lost subscribers, or monthly recurring revenue. A good churn rate depends on many factors, such as a company’s industry and location. For more information about churn rate and how to calculate it, read: What is Churn Rate? How to Calculate Customer Churn (Definition + Meaning). Churn rate will vary depending on business type and size. For instance, for SaaS organizations targeting small businesses, a good churn rate is ~3-5% per month. For larger enterprises, a good churn rate is <1% per month.
Tip #4: Use persuasion techniques
You can use persuasion techniques to deliver improved CX experiences. Two common persuasion methods used in CX flows are detailed below.
🧠 Use mind shaper techniques 🧠
Marcom Projects (2007) came up with the mind shaper technique to persuasion. Marcom detailed five mind shapers of persuasion – describing how humans view experiences – which are as follows:
- Frames: Use frames to indicate what you want your prospects and customers to see. We’re talking about paid advertisements.
- Context: Understand that the surroundings of your product/service/brand impact a customer’s/prospect’s experience.
- Filters: Acknowledge that previous belief systems about your brand/service/product will shape customer/prospect thoughts and interactions.
- Social influence: Consider how the behaviors of others will impact your customer/prospect behavior and experience.
- Belief: What are your customers/prospect’s expectations? How will these expectations impact their experience?
Thinking about these mind shapers will allow you to create an improved customer experience. E.g. you may want to create more interactive steps to help the process and break down hindering pre-set user filters.
Using the five mind shapers detailed above can take two routes for persuasion:
- Central route: This route requires a thought process to occur, meaning the content of the message is important. People will be thinking thoroughly about their reactions, behavior, and experience.
- Peripheral route: This route doesn’t require extensive thought. This route is commonly practiced in marketing with the use of cues like logos, colors, and sounds.
🤸♀️👀 Use passive and active participation techniques 🤸♀️👀
Pine and Gilmore (1999) termed four realms to consider when looking to improve business CX. The four experiences vary based on a customer’s active and passive participation in the experience, and whether they are absorbed or immersed with the experience.
For instance, let’s say you sign up for Process Street’s free plan. This allows you to actively participate with the Process Street product, meaning you’re an active participant.
Let’s also say you’ve been keeping a close eye on Process Street’s blog, engaging with the content we push out daily. Like this post – you’re immersed in the article and with the experience (well I hope so)!
Using your Process Street account and reading our blog content will deliver true escapism (active participation + immersion). Escapism is one of the four experiences described by Pine and Gilmore. The others to consider include:
- Active participation + Absorption = Educational
- Active participation + Immersion = Escapist
- Passive participation + Absorption = Entertainment
- Passive participation + Immersion = Esthetic
These four realms are mutually compatible and distinct, but staged experiences do not always fit neatly into one realm over another. For more compelling customer experiences you want to be delivering on all realms, blurring the edges between the four.
Tip #5: Connect data and processes
Delivering a great customer experience to obtain loyal customers can be hard, especially when customer data and processes are not connected throughout your company.
Your customers will feel frustrated if they receive messages that don’t apply to them, they’ll feel agitated when they have to explain what they need to multiple people or provide past purchase and service history that they expect you to know. This can lead to lost business opportunities, with customers exiting your organization.
Process Street is a no-code solution for documenting your business processes.
You can document procedures used by your marketing, HR, commerce, sales, finance, and support team – you name it. Gain a complete overview of the customer interactions happening across your entire organization and workforce, giving you the process transparency you need to deliver excellent customer experiences.
Once more, you can connect one process with another using Process Street’s checklist run links, creating an integrated network of processes running and working for the customer.
Customer information is securely stored in every Process Street checklist, keeping your data safe, and ensuring it’s easily accessible.
And while you’re at it, why not use some of Process Street’s pre-made template resources to further optimize your CX flows. These template checklists provide straightforward solutions addressing common pain points you might experience when trying to optimize your CX flows.
Using checklists to optimize your CX flows
I’ve listed our top 3 Process Street checklists below to give your idea of the type of assistance we can provide helping you deliver optimal CX flows. But we have plenty more of these checklists freely available in our template library that I recommend you check out.
Run our Reduce Churn checklist to track and reduce churn by bolstering your customer support and marketing processes. This checklist should be started and completed at the end of every month
Key checklist feature: Stop Tasks ensure task order, meaning you complete every stage necessary to look after and retain your customers, preventing churn.
Run our Customer Feedback checklist to document your customer’s feedback and gain insight into your customer’s thought processes.
Key checklist feature: Task permissions control who can view what task and when, creating visibility of important customer data and feedback to the relevant personnel while ensuring privacy, security, and data protection.
Customer Support Process Checklist
Run our Customer Support Process Checklist for each support ticket processed.
Key checklist feature: Form fields collect vital customer information during the support process which can be accessed anywhere, at any time, by the personnel with the required permission settings.
Understanding customer experience flows in a digital world
There are two points to consider when thinking about improving your CX flows in a digital world:
- News travels fast. Bad customer experiences are more easily communicated on a global scale.
- Customers have access to a huge amount of information regarding the product/service/brand they want, competitor offerings, and how they need to solve their pain points.
Negative customer experiences lead to customers feeling unhappy, disappointed, or even frustrated – and in a digital world, negative news spreads fast.
Social media and online review sites make it more likely that bad experiences will be shared. Once more, due to human negativity bias, customers are more likely to jump online with a complaint than a positive review.
Business flexibility and responsiveness are vital. Digitization means customers are constantly connected to businesses and their products/services/brands. It, therefore, comes with little surprise to learn that consumers are easily and quickly becoming product/service experts due to the various digital outlets and information that’s widely available. Your potential customers are more than capable of forming their own opinions on how and where to consume (and will often do so).
To use this digitalization to your advantage, the first step is being aware of how our digital world is affecting customer experience. Secondly, think about how you can leverage common digital channels. For instance, you have at your disposal a constant stream of consumer data to play around with. Utilize tools such as Google Analytics and Process Street to understand your customer journeys and experiences better.
You could also think about adapting your customer journey and experience maps acknowledging the role digital platforms play in shaping customer behaviors, decision-making processes, and experiences.
For instance, Wolny & Charoensuksai (2014) highlighted three behaviors for how decisions are made in this digital journey, as follows:
- The Zero Moment of Truth: This is the first interaction a customer has in connection with the service/product/brand. This moment impacts the customer’s choice to explore a product further if not at all. These moments can occur on any digital device.
- Showrooming: A consumer will view produce/service/brand in a physical store but then decides to exit the store to purchase the item online instead – this is a behavior I’m guilty of 🙋. Viewing items online gives us consumers the ability to compare prices.
- Webrooming: Webrooming comes at the opposing end of the spectrum to showrooming. Consumers will research a product/service/brand online regarding its quality and price, but then decide to make an in-store purchase.
Understand these three purchasing channels and integrate them into your customer journey and experience maps. Your customers will expect you to be readily available to cater to their specific needs and purchasing behaviors.
Optimized CX flows act as the ultimate business differentiator for improved revenue
Delivering optimized customer experiences can be your differentiator in a competitive and saturated business environment. CX strategies such as personalization, obtaining regular feedback, and building emotional connectedness have boosted the likes of Netflix, Microsoft, and Process Street to leading positions in their industry.
Use these strategies along with the 5 steps given in this article to optimize your CX flows.
Top performing companies focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences every. Single. Day.
And so should you!
To help you further optimize your CX flows, check out more of our top CX-related content, which I’ve listed below:
- Customer Experience Measurement: How to Gain CX Insight & Reach the Aha!
- CX Design: How to Craft & Deliver Excellent Customer Experiences
- Customer Success Operations: How to Build Repeatable Processes to Scale and Grow
- 4 Reasons Your SaaS is Failing to Create an Awesome Customer Experience
- Complete Guide to Customer Success for SaaS Companies
How have you optimized your customer experience flows? What successes and challenges have you faced? Do you have a go-to brand that you come back to time and time again due to their exceptional customer experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 👇