What is customer experience optimization? (+3 actionable tips)
The tech landscape and consumer expectations are ever-changing, which means you’re never truly “finished” with customer experience optimization. But a few tactics can help boost your efforts.
Last updated August 10, 2023
When it comes to optimizing the customer experience (CX), your work is never really done. Consumer expectations are increasingly rising, and the world of technology is constantly evolving—making it difficult for business leaders to keep up.
Customers who describe a company’s CX as “good” are 37% more likely to recommend it to others.
While providing flawless customer experiences is a tall order, companies can set themselves apart by continually refining their CX. In the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, over 90 percent of respondents said they’d spend more money with businesses that offer streamlined experiences. And customers who describe a company’s CX as “good” are 37 percent more likely to recommend it to others.
Given the important role CX plays in boosting customer retention and loyalty, it’s critical for companies to make it a priority. Not sure where to start? There are simple yet effective tactics you can implement today to enhance your CX.
Consistently reevaluate customer feedback and analyze real-time data to identify areas of improvement. Choose relevant metrics to measure the success of your customer experience optimization efforts, and you’ll be able to determine what’s working and what’s not.
What is customer experience optimization?
Customer experience optimization is the process of gaining a deep understanding of your customers and enhancing the customer journey across all touchpoints. In short, it’s adopting a customer-centric mentality.
There are three main factors that make up experience optimization:
- Web experience optimization: using quantitative and qualitative data collection tools (like Google Analytics and customer surveys) to determine how your website or app can be improved upon
- Product experience optimization: using analytics to discover how a specific product is performing, mapping adoption paths for new customers, or leveraging on-site notifications to raise awareness of any new product or pricing features
- Messaging experience optimization: using communication channels like email, SMS texts, chatbots, and more to inform customers about products, services, or company updates
Perhaps the most important component of CX optimization is an omnichannel approach. For customers to have an optimal brand experience, they must be able to seamlessly engage with your company across different devices and channels.
For example, a consumer should be able to message your ecommerce company on Instagram, then move over to your website and continue the conversation via live chat—without needing to repeat themselves. Your team should have all the conversation history and context required to provide a smooth experience.
The purchase rate of omnichannel campaigns is 287% higher than single-channel campaigns.
Need proof of omnichannel’s appeal? According to Omnisend, the purchase rate of omnichannel campaigns is 287 percent higher than single-channel campaigns.
Why is customer experience optimization important?
Great customer experiences turn one-timers into repeat buyers and promote customer loyalty.
According to our Customer Experience Trends Report, half of consumers say that CX is more important to them now than it was a year ago. CX leaders and their teams must be empowered to deliver excellent experiences at every customer touchpoint.
The stakes are high: 61 percent of customers will switch to a competitor after only one bad experience—that’s a 22-percent jump from the previous year. Make it two negative experiences, and 76 percent of customers are out the door.
Building relationships means building value. The more effectively you help your customers achieve their goals, the faster they realize your value and become loyal customers.
How to optimize your customer experience
There’s no magic customer experience strategy or tactic that will instantly perfect your CX. The best way forward is to take a holistic approach—tracking, analyzing, and A/B testing a variety of data to boost overall customer satisfaction. While far from an exhaustive list, the following three tips provide a solid starting point for your customer experience optimization efforts.
1. Set up tools for collecting customer data
Evaluate both structured and unstructured data to develop a comprehensive understanding of your customers and their interactions with your brand.
- Structured data is quantitative information such as names, geolocations, and credit card transactions. You can use customer service software like Zendesk to aggregate and analyze this data.
- Unstructured data is qualitative information like social media mentions, chat messages, and emails. Send out surveys—like customer satisfaction surveys—at different touchpoints to gather data that paints a well-rounded picture of your customers’ experiences. The feedback you receive can also benefit your product development and marketing teams. You can collect additional qualitative data using customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Along with your CRM platform, use Zendesk’s analytics software to gather and interpret data about the user experience.
2. Measure customer optimization metrics
Evaluate whether your customer experience optimization efforts are working by tracking key CX metrics. This is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking—your company’s success metrics should be specific to your products, services, support processes, and initiatives.
The metrics you select should also align with your larger business goals. For example, if you’re responsible for quarterly CX performance reports, make sure your metrics allow for quarter-over-quarter data comparisons.
Or, say you want to get a pulse on customer loyalty. You can measure your company’s Net Promoter Score® (NPS) by sending an NPS survey to your customers. Users answer one question: “How likely are you to recommend [your company, products, or services] to someone you know?” on a scale of 0 to 10. You should also include a comment box so respondents can write in additional feedback if they choose.
Picking the right metrics to measure—whether that includes Customer Effort Score (CES), customer retention rate, or conversion rate—is just as important as picking the right time to measure them. For instance, if a potential buyer is in an early stage of the customer journey and still researching their options, you wouldn’t use average order value as a success metric.
3. Visualize data with customer journey maps
A customer journey map is a visual tool that shows buyers’ needs and expectations at each touchpoint. Essentially, it tells the story of the customer experience.
Before you begin mapping, break down the customer journey into distinct stages so you can identify consumers’ needs and frame of mind at every touchpoint. Although different companies may use slightly different language, the five basic stages are:
- Awareness: A customer learns about your product, service, or brand.
- Interest: The customer is paying attention to your products or services and considering making a purchase.
- Purchase: The customer decides to buy your product or service.
- Experience: The customer receives your product or service and begins using it.
- Loyalty: The customer is impressed with your product or service, will make another purchase, and will potentially become a brand advocate.
Once you’re familiar with the customer journey stages, you’re ready to decide which elements to include in your map.
- Touchpoints: the individual interactions a customer has with your company
- Departments: the teams involved at each stage of the customer journey (e.g., marketing might own the Interest stage)
- Pain points: the problems a customer is facing
- Opportunities: the ways in which you can help a customer accomplish their goals more effectively
After you’ve established the stages and elements to include, follow these four steps to create a great customer experience journey map.
- Assemble a cross-functional team: Gather representatives from multiple departments who can help you map out the customer journey.
- Hold a working session: Ask your cross-functional team, “Where does a customer’s experience with our company begin?” This will kick off the discussion and allow the team to agree on where the top of the funnel is before moving on. Account for both good and bad experiences, and let everyone share what they think a customer’s next steps will be.
- Define the patterns that emerge: This is where your ideation will start turning into a structure. Identify the major milestones in a CX journey and separate them from less important customer interactions.
- Identify opportunities for improvement: Now that you’ve located the most important moments in the customer journey and found potential pain points, experience optimization can begin. Although many CX leaders and teams will be tempted to optimize CX based on gut instincts or their own personal experiences, you must resist this urge. Data insights should be the only factor guiding customer experience optimization decisions.
Many companies even build separate customer journey maps for specific customer personas. Use CRM data to create up to three profiles, complete with details like your audience’s age, industry, salary, education level, wants, needs, and personal goals. Then, map out their individual journeys.
Continually refine your customer experience
If you’re still wondering when your customer experience optimization efforts will be “finished,” you may want to start back at the top. Just like the technology landscape and consumer preferences, the customer experience requires constant reevaluation. Regularly review your CX to ensure you’re providing consistent, cohesive experiences across touchpoints and meeting your audience’s expectations.