Customer Experience Optimization is an ongoing process that involves understanding your customers and creating great experiences for them across all of your business touchpoints. Customer Experience is a lot like User Experience, except Customer Experience refers to more than just interaction with mobile and web apps. Customer Experience is used to describe any interaction a customer has with your business. This can include your website, mobile app, delivery drivers, in-store atmosphere, customer service, etc.
Businesses around the world are beginning to see the unique power that the Internet and digital technology have for curating great Customer Experiences. They are also beginning to see the competitive advantage of focusing on Customer Experience Optimization. Understanding the customer journey and optimizing the experiences customers have not only increases lifetime value but also builds loyalty for the brand.
In today’s digital age, the online market is consumer-centric, and it is crowded. Brands stand out from the crowd when they satisfy customers and provide time-worthy experiences. Customer Experience Optimization has three main pillars:
- Attract visitors
- Engage visitors
- Improve the customer journey
Focusing on the customer journey and working to improve it throughout the customer life cycle will help build and maintain your brand image in a hyper-competitive, constantly evolving, consumer-centric market.
Why is Customer Experience Optimization so Important?
Modern consumers are savvier than ever before. They have access to the Internet and a myriad of different options when it comes to which business or brand they will choose. The modern consumer has had a number of digital experiences. They expect fast service, a ton of options, and a lot of personalization.
Customer Experience Optimization helps businesses focus on aligning business goals with customer expectations to create the ideal customer journey. If your brand wants to maximize potential business outcomes, you need to focus on every step of the customer journey and shape it to meet the needs, expectations, and desires of your customers.
Offline it is easy to understand and connect with your customers as they come into your business. In the digital age of business, most online customers are essentially anonymous when they begin interacting with your brand. Customer Experience Optimization is important because it gives businesses:
- Understanding of their customers
- Agility to make optimizations
- Confidence in their optimizations
Before any optimizations can be made to the customer journey, businesses need to understand their customers. Focusing on Customer Experience Optimization gives businesses valuable insights into their customers and prospects through customer data. Data and customer feedback must be gathered across channels to get a full and accurate understanding of the customer journey.
Commerce in the digital age moves quickly. Trends seemingly come and go overnight. Your brand doesn’t have the luxury of waiting around to make important decisions and optimizations. A thorough Customer Experience Optimization strategy offers your brand the agility to implement insights gleaned from customer data so that your brand can adapt to the ever-shifting digital landscape. Timely UX/UI design optimizations could have a major effect on your overall success.
One of the most underrated aspects of any optimization campaign is confidence. If you don’t have confidence in your customer data and the optimizations you are making based on that data, your brand will be at the mercy of hasty, reactionary decision-making. Customer Experience Optimization gives you confidence that you understand your customer journey and the insights provided by your customer data. You don’t want to be quickly reacting to changes. Your brand needs to be a first-mover based on good, clear customer data and customer feedback. Customer Experience Optimization can give your brand the confidence to be a first-mover and deliver quality customer-centric experiences based on solid customer data.
The Key Pieces of Successful Customer Experience Optimization
Now that you know more about what Customer Experience Optimization is and why it is so important for modern businesses to focus on, you are likely wondering what a good Customer Experience Optimization strategy looks like. Whether you are in the process of app development or you are an established brand, it is never too early to begin thinking about Customer Experience. Broadly, a Customer Experience Optimization strategy can be broken down into five steps:
- Understand the customer journey
- Pinpoint areas for improvement
- Test optimizations
- Gather customer feedback
- Repeat the process
Let’s take a closer look at the four steps leading up to repeat the process so that you can get a better understanding of what to look for and how to proceed. If you take the time and put in the effort to really focus on Customer Experience Optimization, your brand will become stronger and more profitable.
Understand the Customer Journey
Before you can begin making optimizations, you need to understand how your customers and visitors are currently interacting with your website, mobile app, social media channels, etc. Analytic tools, such as Google Analytics, among others, can be a huge help here. The key is to visualize your customer journey and highlight areas where you may be losing customers or conversions.
Two great analytic tools that can be used to analyze your customer journey are session recordings and heat maps. There are a wide variety of other analytics tools out there, too, that you may find provide you with more insightful customer data. The key takeaway is that you need to look at your data to understand how users are interacting with you online.
For example, session recordings show a visual representation of a customer’s journey while they are using a website or mobile app. You can see which pages were visited, in what order, how long a visitor stayed on each page, whether or not forms were filled out or purchases made, and which page the user exited from. This is powerful customer data that can help brands get a big picture idea about which pages are leading users to exit, which pages are leading to form submissions and sales, and which pages are the most and least popular.
Heat maps offer similar visualization of the broader customer journey by providing a color-coded map that shows which pages are hot, get a lot of traffic, and which pages are cold, get little to no traffic. This customer data can be used to help businesses determine which pieces of content are valuable, which pages need optimization, and which pages are of little value to their customers.
However, sometimes analytic tools are not enough in order to determine why visitors are leaving your digital assets. Utilizing market research can be very helpful in understanding the customer journey. Market research gives your brand the ability to directly engage with your customers and ask them questions about their experiences. The customer data collected by market research is some of the most valuable data available because it comes directly from the consumer. Market research offers your brand the chance to find out exactly what consumers want and expect and what can be improved upon.
Pinpoint Areas for Improvement
Once you understand your customer journey and how your customers are interacting with your digital assets, you need to pinpoint the elements that need improvement. The primary digital touchpoints you are going to need to optimize will be your website and your mobile app. You need to work to keep the User Experience symmetrical across channels in order to firmly establish your brand identity.
The first point of contact you are likely to have with your customers will be your website. Your website will tell your customers a lot about who you are, what you do, and answer common questions about your products and services. There are five common areas on your website where you’ll likely need some Customer Experience Optimization. They are as follows:
- Landing page design
The common trouble spots you’ll have if you see high bounce rates in your customer data are likely landing page design and on-page content. Users are coming to your page, and the content is not what they were looking for, or the design is poor, slow loading, or hard to navigate. On the other hand, if your bounce rates are in a healthy range but you’re having trouble generating leads or conversions, your call-to-action items or forms are the most likely culprit. In most cases, all of these areas can be improved upon during a Customer Experience Optimization.
Once customers are familiar with your brand, they will likely turn to your mobile app. Simply having a mobile app doesn’t help your Customer Experience. Your app needs to deliver a great User Experience on top of adding value to your business. The two main areas you need to focus on with your mobile app are design and functionality. The market is full of great-looking, high-performing HiTech apps. Customer expectations have never been higher when it comes to the functionality and design of mobile apps.
That being said, don’t over complicate your app’s design. The most effective User Interfaces are actually ones that are simple and intuitive. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just make sure that your branding, UI design choices, and content are aligned with your website. In terms of functionality, the biggest thing you need to concern yourself with is app speed. Nobody wants to use a slow app. This is very bad for the User Experience. The longer users have to wait, the more users will abandon your app. It is that simple.
When it comes to some optimizations, no testing is necessary. For example, optimizing for speed and performance is fairly straightforward. The faster, the better. However, things are not as straightforward when you begin optimizing content, UI design choices, CTA button verbiage, and form layouts. In these cases, it will make sense to run tests to see which optimizations are the most effective. This process takes a little bit of patience. You need to implement optimizations and set up tests to see which changes are the most effective. Then you need to wait for the latest customer data to be compiled before you can really determine which changes work and which don’t.
Successful brands and businesses are always testing new UI designs, content, etc., in order to improve the User Experience, increase customer satisfaction, and create more conversions. You’ll likely want to run tests across channels in order to cultivate the ideal Customer Experience at each of your digital touchpoints.
Gather Customer Feedback
After you run your tests and implement your new optimizations, you should reconnect with your customers to see what they think of the changes you’ve made. You will get a fair amount of customer data from your tests, but nothing beats getting direct customer feedback. As we talked about earlier, you can utilize the power of market research to better understand how your customers feel about optimizations to the customer journey and if there are still areas they think can be improved.
Customer Experience Optimization is never done. You can use the feedback you get at the end of your optimization campaign to refuel and refocus your efforts for the next round of Customer Experience Optimizations.
In the digital age, things don’t stay put for very long. There are always going to be new tech advancements that allow you to deliver better, faster, more personalized Customer Experiences. Your brand needs to actively think about Customer Experience Optimization and the latest trends so that your business doesn’t get left behind by consumers who found a better experience elsewhere. We understand that it can seem overwhelming to constantly be thinking about design tweaks and optimizations. If you’re in need of some help, we recommend connecting with an app development partner. Lean on the industry experience and the latest technical knowledge that a partner can offer your brand in your effort to optimize your digital assets for Customer Experience.