Guide: What is Customer Experience Optimization?

Customer Experience Optimization

Customer Experience Optimization can help you grow your brand, reduce churn, increase customer retention, and ultimately upsell.

In the hyper-competitive world of today’s online market, a customer’s experience during their journey with a brand is more important than ever.

Consumers remember bad experiences for much longer than good ones, and are twice as likely to share a bad experience as they are a good one.

When 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great experience, ignoring opportunities to improve the overall experience is a mistake.

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • What customer experience optimization is
  • Why you should incorporate it into your digital strategy
  • Who needs to be implementing it
  • How to improve customer experience
  • PLUS We’ll give you 17 practical customer experience solutions (we’re nice like that).

Already clued up about customer experience optimization? Skip ahead to find out how to improve customer experience.

What Is Customer Experience Optimization?

Customer experience optimization is the continual process of using data to improve your interactions with customers across all channels.

Graphic of chatbot helping a user to find what they are looking for on e-commerce website.

Improving customer experience comes in many forms, including:

  • Meeting customer expectations
  • Increasing customer engagement
  • Surprising users (in a good way)
  • Individualized or personalized experiences
  • Helping users navigate to where they want to go more quickly
  • Providing novel or new experiences
  • Speeding up transactions
  • Reducing confusion

The results of improving customer experience are more conversions, more revenue, and more growth.

More brands are competing for the same customers

To an extent, brands and businesses have been trying to perfect the customer experience for decades.

The entire existence of customer service departments is an attempt to improve how people feel about a brand.

Customer experience optimization requires companies to ask the question: “How can I make every interaction I have with my consumers better?”

And as we continue to become more digital, the answer is “By using data to create better and more customized consumer journeys, brands create happier customers“.

Happier customers equals more repeat business, more referrals, more positive engagement, and ultimately more sales.

All of which will merely hasten a brand’s path to world domination… or at least to becoming a successful business.

Why is customer experience optimization important?

Staggeringly, 52% of Americans think that the customer experience at most companies needs improvement.

Companies that stand out from the crowd in this regard will reap the benefits.

Given how much competition there is in the online market, it’s essential that brands utilize technology to gain an edge.

Conversational AI – or chatbots – are one way of doing of this.

Tiger of Sweden, for example, improved their customer satisfaction score to 96% after using Certainly’s Conversational AI.

Graphic of a man receiving an excellent customer experience while interacting with a conversational website.

Customer experience optimization is so crucial because it increases customer satisfaction and improves KPIs for businesses.

Happy customers and better KPIs usually means more revenue and growth.

Along with price and product quality, providing a great customer experience is a key factor in customer retention and acquisition.

We’ll go into greater depth about how to do this in the ‘how to improve customer service‘ section.

How do different industries benefit from customer experience optimization?

There aren’t any industries that can afford completely to ignore their customers’ wants and needs.

However, customer experience optimization is particularly crucial for industries that rely on a large volume of interactions.

Here’s how different industries benefit from improving their customer experience.

Ecommerce & B2C:

Firstly, giving ecommerce customers a better user experience results in increased revenue.

Furthermore, improvements to automated communication and using conversational commerce can result in upsells and prevent customers from leaving.

Additionally, optimizing cart abandonment emails can allow ecommerce businesses to recoup lost sales.

Finally, referral and reward programs can boost customer lifetime value and average order value.

Media:

A/B testing is a form of customer experience optimization.

Rigorous testing of different messaging across all channels can play a major role in incremental improvements in a customer’s experience.

Graphic of woman pointing to a smiley face, indicating a great customer experience.

Likewise, tracking metrics more effectively can improve engagement, shares per post, and even reduce bounce rate.

Travel:

Optimizing customer experience results in improvements across the board, such as more:

  • Bookings
  • Referrals
  • Engagement
  • Sign-ups
  • Sales
  • Repeat customer rates

Two-sided rewards and loyalty programs are proven to increase revenue.

Business to Business (B2B)

While many B2B companies have fewer clients than their B2C counterparts, streamlining the user journey and utilizing customer data is still important.

There are endless possibilities for optimization on metrics such as:

  • Conversions per activity
  • Number of help tickets solved per hour
  • Brand value

How to improve customer experience

Worried about how to improve customer experience? It can seem like a mammoth task to undertake.

With so many different areas to look at and work on, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Thankfully, we’ve broken this down into a step-by-step process that’ll have you improving revenue in no time.

After our list of 17 customer experience solutions? Skip ahead to the list.

Step One: Data drive

You’re going to need a lot of data about your business – and customers – in order to effectively improve your customer experience.

Graphic of two customers shopping on an ecommerce website

Which KPIs are helpful for customer experience?

This list is not exhaustive, but collating some of the following KPIs gives you an overall picture of your customer experience.

Net promoter score (NPS)

Working out your net promoter score is a good way to discover how how likely your customers are to recommend you.

Usually, NPS is calculated from survey responses on a scale from 1 to 10, answering a simple question like:

“On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being extremely likely, how likely would you be to recommend (company name) to others?”

Average net promoter scores vary by industry, but generally speaking anything above 20 is considered acceptable.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Customer satisfaction score is based on surveying customers after an interaction with a brand.

These surveys can happen before, during, and after transactions or an experience.

An example of a customer satisfaction score question could be: “How would you rate your recent experience with our customer service team?”

Customer Churn Rate

Put simply, this the customers who’ve said “It’s not me, it’s you” and gone on their merry way to one of your competitors.

This metric is more common with a subscription service or software as a service (SaaS).

Customer churn rate is usually measured as a percentage of customers that cancel your service within a designated period of time.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)

FCR is the percentage of customer support queries successfully resolved in a single response.

Of course, there are conversations and questions that are impossible to resolve instantly.

Graphic of Certainly Conversational AI creating satisfied customers through customer experience optimization.

This is justifiably why it’s unlikely to get a first contact resolution of 100%.

It is also where chatbots are extremely effective. Chatbots improve FCR significantly by providing responses automatically.

Automatic responses can be anything from navigational links to generic answers.

Pages per visit

Pages per visit is pretty self-explanatory. It tells you how many different pages people looked at when they visited your website.

The amount of people who leave your site after visiting one page is known as your bounce rate.

You can find your pages per visit on Google Analytics or other tracking software.

Average order value

Average order value will depend on the nature of your business, products, and audience.

But customers spending more money on more items is clearly a good thing.

Cart abandonment rate

A high cart abandonment rate could be an indicator that your website usability is not up to scratch (though there can be other reasons for a low score).

A useful tip if you do have a low score is to send cart abandonment emails or notifications, which can recoup up to 11% of lost sales.

Conversion rate

Put simply, conversion rate tells you what percentage of people who are interested in your product go on to buy it.

By comparing the number of people who visit your website with the number of people who make a purchase, you get a rough idea of how effective your website and product are.

Average resolution time

Average resolution time is the average time it takes for your customer service team to resolve customer issues.

Although Average resolution time is not a great KPI to use in isolation, it does give you insight into other customer experience metrics.

Customer effort score (CES)

Customer effort score tells you how much effort a customer feels like they expend in interactions with your company.

Like net promoter score, CES is survey-based.

Graphic of Certainly's Conversational AI being used for ecommerce and customer service.

There’s a couple of different ways of formatting your questions for this survey, but an example question could be: “How easy was it to get your issue resolved?”

Click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate is usually applied to adverts, but it is also used to define the percentage of people who click on a link on one of your pages.

In this regard, it can be a useful indicator of how effective your copy or UI is.

How do you collect customer data?

It’s worth pointing out that the most successful customer experience optimization strategies came from incorporating customer data.

In-experience surveying like Qualaroo or behavior recording like hotjar are ways companies can gain insights.

Current industry trends in customer experience optimization are taking the data analysis out of the hands of humans altogether.

Sentiment analysis chatbots find the contextual meaning behind a question.

The chatbots which are most advanced are then able to accurately understand and instantly suggest a response based on previous conversations that were solved correctly.

The result is that more and more questions are answered automatically and accurately.

More importantly in this context though, the most advanced Conversational AI allows you to collect a wide range of consumer data and preferences.

Conversational AI provides both the question and the answer to a great customer experience.

You can also use some of the following ways to get more customer data:

One word of warning: people lie on surveys. While incredibly useful in many ways, don’t rely solely on user self-reported data.

Use a Digital Experience Platform

These are a variety of platforms that play a role in the overall customer experience.

Each of these digital experience platforms has a function and plays a part in guiding the user, collecting data, displaying information, and providing navigation throughout the experience.

When systems talk to each other, the process gets smoother.

Graphic of successful customer service interaction with Certainly's chatbot.

Here are some of the different types of digital platforms that help you collate data and improve customer experience:

  • Client relationship management platforms (CRM)
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • Knowledge Management Systems and helpdesk centers
  • Content Management systems (CMS)
  • Marketing communication platforms (inbound)
  • Support, Chat, and Automated response platforms
  • Behavior monitoring and tracking
  • Integration tools and systems

Digital experience platforms also feature on our list of 17 customer experience solutions.

Step Two: Define your customers’ journey

Next, you’ll need to break the customer journey into segments.

Defining the steps within each stage of the user journey will help you optimize everything in the future.

You’ll want to look at the Pre-Purchase, Purchase, and Post Purchase stages.

Doing this will help you to audit your user flow.

Wireframe on a whiteboard or use a digital tool to see how many steps it takes to get to a desired goal.

Finding some user journey examples as a baseline is a starting point.

Wireframe out each step for how people engage with your website or platform.

There are flows dependent on where a user starts and the end-goals.

Examples of specific user flow:

  • Navigation to specific products
  • Purchasing a product
  • Getting in touch with customer service
  • Asking a question and responding
  • What happens after the conversion
  • Email flows
  • Retargeting across channels

When optimizing later, you want to keep it to as few steps as possible.

Pro-tip: Figma or Draw.io are great for this exercise.

Double check that your customer base are who you think they are

You can’t start improving your customer experience if you don’t know who your customers are.

Most businesses will already have a pretty good idea of who their customers are based on who is currently buying whatever it is that a company sells.

Graphic of multiple customers receiving a great online experience.

But it never hurts to double check that your assumptions are correct. Another valuable way of gaining insight about your customers is by talking with them (crazy right?).

A customer will tell you everything:

  • What language they use
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Pain points and problems.
  • What they want from you

Getting in front of customers just to see if your assumptions are outdated is always recommended.

Times change and demographics shift, sometimes without you realizing it.

You could be targeting the messaging of your business to completely the wrong demographic.

Step Three: Identify any problems

Ok, so you have all of the data you could need about your business and your customers.

It’s time to start hypothesising!

You should assess all the information you have and ask yourself questions like:

  • Does anything look off in your (KPIs)?
  • Do you have a high conversion rate?
  • What do people most commonly ask Customer Service?
  • Where do people drop off or leave the site?
  • Are users returning to make future purchases? Why? Why not?
  • When you were auditing your user flow, was it quite tricky to get from A to B?

This is of course only a small selection of issues that you may notice, but try to examine each aspect of your business to find problem areas.

Then, using your best judgment, decide which areas are the most important focus.

Make a list of the improvement areas like:

  • Messaging
  • Product
  • Web experience
  • Post sale
  • Support
  • Automation
  • Data and integrations

Step Four: Make a plan

On the face of it, this is the hardest part. But if you’ve done a good job of collecting the data you need, it may well be easier than you think.

As you begin to optimize your user experience, it’s easy to forget the point of enhancing your customer experience: improving revenue.

Graphic of dozens of happy customers resolving inquiries and shopping online through customer experience optimization.

‘Delighting’ customers is crucial, but not at any cost. ‘Delight’ is the last stage of the sales cycle, where customers are converted into brand ambassadors.

It’s worth noting though that there is a fine line between maximizing profit and increasing customer retention.

Creating happier customers at the lowest possible cost is a key challenge in customer retention rates.

Schedule ‘sprints’ and track your progress

You should also be constantly examining the effectiveness of implementing new features, integrations, and general development.

Schedule realistic weekly ‘sprints’. Solving problems on a schedule is far more effective than trying to do everything at once.

Setting a baseline measurement from week-to-week or month-to-month will give you a starting point for improvement.

You can’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t have any way to measure it.

Step Five: 17 Customer Experience Solutions

You’ve collected your data, identified your issues, and made a plan to solve them.

It’s time to implement your solutions!

Here’s 17 different customer experience solutions to give you some ideas.

We go into greater depth for each of these points below, but if you’re just after a bullet pointed list, your wish is our command.

  • Get a good chatbot
  • Create a knowledge center
  • Improve the FAQ section
  • Build a better tech stack
  • Create a consistent tone of voice
  • Optimize copy
  • A/B Test
  • Act on customer feedback
  • Buy something from yourself
  • Set up a customer loyalty program
  • Combine discounts with your surveying
  • Streamline your UI
  • Respect your customers time
  • Embrace technology
  • Foster good internal communication
  • Invest in training
  • Listen to your staff

1. Get a chatbot… a good one

Technology is pretty amazing, and nowhere is this more apparent than with chatbots.

AI has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Smarter chat solutions now offer a way to smash your customer satisfaction out of the park.

Graphic of woman shouting for help and giving a five star satisfaction rating to an online business.

You will reduce repetitive tasks in customer success with a chatbot.

Take Certainly, for example, who solved 40% of customer service tickets for Tobii.

Chatbots allow you to dramatically reduce the amount of time customer service agents spend on mundane and repetitive requests.

They also save you a heap on your customer service budget, and help businesses improve customer experience in a myriad of other ways:

  • Solve repetitive questions automatically and quickly
  • Free up time for customer service representatives to interact with customers
  • Direct customers to items they’re asking about
  • Encourage customers to purchase rather than abandon the cart
  • Recommend products that other people with similar purchases have bought
  • Increase cart totals with incentives, coupons, and up-selling

2. Create a knowledge center and repurpose help center solutions

Any time you encounter a challenge from a customer, document it and prepare it to be used later in the form of a help section.

This is the whole purpose behind building out a knowledge center.

Your agents are spending heaps of time interpreting and solving easy requests. That’s inefficient and extremely wasteful.

The long-form answers to similar problems can be repurposed to help answer future queries.

Over time many of the same themes can emerge in customer support. Use these responses moving forward and save hundreds of human hours.

This is another way in which Conversational AI excels.

But if you do this manually, you’re giving your customer service agents more time to focus on customers with difficult problems.

3. Improve the FAQ Section

FAQs have their flaws when compared to chatbots, but they’re still a useful tool to employ.

Customers looking for solutions will get frustrated if they look on an FAQ page and the answers are out of date or just plain wrong.

Make sure you regularly update your FAQs to ensure you have accurate information and that you’re not missing any important questions.

Nobody wants to burn time trawling through long lists of frequently asked questions only to end up with an outdated answer.

4. Build a better tech stack for the future with digital experience platforms

As we mentioned earlier, Digital experience platforms allow you to seamlessly build and manage customer touchpoints across a variety of channels.

Graphic of woman receiving a gift from a business offering exceptional customer experience.

By providing you with synchronized data, you gain greater insight into your customer’s needs, wants, and desires, and you streamline your entire operation.

Think of digital experience platforms (DXPs) as the natural successor to content management systems.

5. Create a consistent tone of voice across all channels

Creating a consistent tone of voice across all channels is crucial for branding and customer success.

Think about the last time you spoke to an elderly relative or acquaintance.

Did you use the same language and talk about the same things with your friends over a drink?

Probably not. Communicating with your customers is exactly the same.

You need to know who you are speaking to and targeting before you start talking.

It’s also important to allow customers to move seamlessly between channels, so make sure your website has clear links to your social media pages and vice versa.

6. Optimize copy for your target customers

After you’ve worked out who your target customers are, make sure you optimize all your copy so that it relates to this group.

Use the same verbiage and expressions as your target customers. You never want to come off like an outsider to the audience you’re selling to.

Obviously, this is tricky if you’re targeting multiple different age groups, but try to find a middle ground that’s friendly and relatable at the very least.

7. A/B Testing

If you’re not A/B testing already, start now.

A/B testing is the process of releasing different adverts, marketing emails, landing pages, and other marketing touchpoints simultaneously.

Basically, this allows you to see which one works best! By doing this, you can continually optimize your messaging so that it appeals to your existing or desired customers.

And don’t just stop at one test. A/B tests all of the important things. You might be surprised at what you can find out.

Not sure where to put your Call to Action button? Try two different places and A/B test it!

Not sure if this copy or that copy is better? Try both and A/B test it!

Not sure if…you get the idea.

8. Act based on customer feedback

It sounds obvious, but if lots of your customers are complaining about something, fix it!

Graphic of two employees working together to create excellent customer experience.

If your customers have helped you out by telling you what you need to improve, don’t just ignore it even if the solution is hard to find.

Work with different departments to get the issue resolved and improve your customer experience.

Also, it goes without saying that you should always adhere to customer service best practices.

9. Buy something from yourself

It sounds crazy, but sign up for your service or buy something from yourself.

Better yet, get different people at the company to do it too. We develop blind spots to things that we work too closely with over time.

In most cases, customers manage to figure stuff out themselves when things aren’t working perfectly.

Without you ever knowing about it, there may be larger issues or changes that never went live.

You’ll consistently find “hidden” problems when you go through the buying process as a customer.

This not only gives you a clearer idea of what your customers are experiencing when they interact with you, but it also allows you to pinpoint any problems.

10. Set up a customer loyalty program

Pretty much everyone has experienced the “Et tu, brute” levels of betrayal when a brand they’ve been loyal to for years has an amazing new offer…that’s only for new customers.

Obviously, brands are always looking for new customers and offers are a great way to entice people to sign up.

But don’t forget about your existing customers.

Whether customer acquisition or customer retention is more important depends a lot on what type of industry a company is in.

But there are stats that suggest customer acquisition is five times as expensive as retention. Ouch.

If you have existing customers and you want them to shop with you again, some form of a loyalty program is a great way to do this.

Discounts, free products, or first access to new products are all ways you can say thanks to existing customers.

It’ll make them feel more valued and may even encourage them to buy from you again.

11. Combine discounts and offers with your surveying

If you’re undertaking any surveying to get feedback from existing customers about their experience with you, consider offering an incentive.

Discounts encourage customers to give you feedback, leading to a larger and more useful data set.

Graphic of woman designing a more user friendly website interface

It’ll also give you a chance to make more sales if you provide offers to some of your most popular products or surveys.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the value of their opinions and experiences to brands, so providing an incentive for them will make them feel like you value their time.

12. Streamline your UI/UX

UI/UX is the design and layout of your website. Creating a convoluted website that’s tricky to use is a great way to encourage people to head elsewhere.

If you run a shop selling food, you wouldn’t put fresh fruit next to the detergent and breakfast cereal with the vegetables. So don’t do it with your website.

Sometimes just adding breadcrumbs and a similar product section can do wonders.

Don’t forget to pay particular attention to your landing page and homepage as well.

They’re the “shop fronts” of your business. There are some great resources out there for what to include if you’re struggling.

13. Respect your customers’ time

You may well think your business is the most interesting thing in the world, but your customers probably don’t.

It’s better to email more valuable content less frequently than spam them with meaningless drivel five times a week.

In fact, 43% of consumers want to be emailed from companies less frequently.

Of course, there’s a fine line between spamming and being silent, and the exact balance will depend on a number of variables.

Think about how you can incorporate consumer choice. Maybe you can give customers the option of how frequently they’d like to hear from you.

If you put this on the same screen as your unsubscribe form, you may even reduce the number of people who decide to unsubscribe.

14. Embrace technology and innovate

This one can require a pretty generous budget, but have a think about how you can use existing technology to benefit your customers.

Take a look at Ikea, for example. A few years back they introduced an app that let customers use AR to place images of objects around their homes.

Not only did this customize the buying experience for customers, but it also created a massive marketing buzz as the app was so popular.

Of course, most companies won’t have the budget to be able to release their own AR app, but think about existing technologies that could be used to improve customer experience.

15. Foster good inter-department communication

If you have multiple departments, then the chances are there’s a gap in communication.

Allow for the occasional free-flowing information sharing gives an abundance of valuable insights.

Unless they’re asked, many of these people won’t naturally engage with one another.

Graphic of three customers jumping with stars denoting great reviews for an online business.

Find out what sales are saying to stop customers from leaving or close deals. What worked? What did people get excited about?

It can be easy for everyone to get caught up in their own bubble and duties. Take the time to schedule monthly meetings between departments.

You can then incorporate these nuggets of information into your messaging and strategy to attract new customers and retain those you’ve already got.

16. Invest in additional training for your team

Providing knowledge to your team to create a more customer-centric environment is a great way to boost your customer experience.

As your business grows, taking time to reinforce product knowledge and train the team is imperative.

17. Listen to the concerns of everyone in the company

Speak to your entire team, from the interns to the CFO, about what they love about the company and what their issues are.

This serves two purposes.

Number one, people like being listened to, and employees are no different.

A happy team = more motivated team = more likely to give a great customer experience.

And number two, it’ll give you some new ideas of ways to innovate and provide a great customer experience.

Customer Experience Optimization: An ongoing process

Much like cleaning at home, customer experience optimization is sadly something that is never done forever.

There’s always scope for improvement as something changes about your company every day.

Even if it’s just something tiny like one product being changed slightly, lots of small changes every day add up to a massively different experience over time.

Graphic of customer resolving a query through conversational AI.

Take a look at Apple. The entire company is almost unrecognizable from the one which was around 25 years ago.

Companies should always be on the lookout for new ways that they can improve their offering to increase customer retention, acquisition, and lifetime value.

There are more and more problems that can be solved with technology, and chatbots like Certainly provide an easy and fast solution.

Incorporating customer data, technology, surveying customers, optimizing messaging, and identifying customer issues are all key to creating a better consumer environment.

Ultimately, the ongoing nature of customer experience optimization provides a challenge for businesses.

Failing to put the customer first will increasingly be considered an out-of-date approach in the years to come.

After all, customers are the lifeblood of every company.

Can any business condone offering them an experience that’s less than excellent?

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