How to Build a 5-Point Customer Experience Program

What if I told you that your customer service (CS) agents should be the last resort for customers?

Good customer service is a must and an integral part of every business. Contact with a customer service agent, however, is only a small part of a successful customer experience program.

Table of contents: Build a 5-point customer service program

1. Identify your ideal customer
2. Streamline your purchasing process

3. Unify information at all sell points

4. Use social media

5. Support your CS department

In this story, I will share how to set up, fit together, and manage the five components that go into building an ideal customer experience program.

1. Identify who your ideal customer is and what they need

When you’re looking at knowing who your customer is, especially if your product isn’t niche, the tendency is to think big and global: The broader your audience, the higher your chance of success right?

It turns out this is not true.

It’s easier to meet the customer experience needs of a smaller, more defined client base than it is to target a broader, less defined customer. You’ll create a better customer experience if you spend your time and money targeting a smaller audience.

Focus on a customer group that already has a larger-than-average interest in the product or service you are offering. Start with basic parameters like gender, age, geographic location etc. That only narrows your customer pool down somewhat.

Go even deeper by investigating what your current (or potential) customers are into. For example, if you’re selling high-end sneakers, you know your prime focus should not be on the geriatric population.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to an appropriate age group, try to find out answers to the following questions: What do they read? Which social media platforms do they use? What are their favorite brands? How do they like to express themselves?

With every box you tick, your ideal customer group becomes further defined and in focus. Your targeted audience is smaller, but knowing the specifics of your ideal customer will make your next campaign more effective. By catering to your ideal customers you can create a more personalized, invested, and therefore ideal experience for your target audience.

2. Streamline your purchasing process

You have now identified your ideal customer and that customer has found its way to your virtual store. How can you provide them with the perfect shopping experience? Here are some tips on streamlining your process:

Review your site from the customer perspective

Pretend you’re a customer yourself as you go through the purchasing process. Write down everything you look for or need as you make a purchase. Too often, a website is set up from a business point of view which could mean, for example, that the conditions for a return are not easy to find, or that delivery fees are only displayed at checkout.

These choices make sense—you don’t want the customer to return the product and you only want to let them know about shipping fees after they’ve already selected their product. But not knowing this information could prevent a customer from buying or create frustration once they see the shipping fees.

Supply detail about every product

For physical products that the customer is considering buying, reduce customer questions by providing as much product detail as possible. Provide product photos from every angle. If you sell high-end sneakers, for example, include details like measurements of inside soles, details about the materials, how shipping and returns are arranged and for how long the sneakers are guaranteed. This detail builds customer trust in your store and will grow your conversion rate.

Vet your checkout process

Continue to review the customer experience as you go through the checkout process. Are payment options clear? Have you outlined if payment options will change shipping timeframes? Are you sending post-sale confirmation emails with useful information, for example, care tips?

There is a fine line between what’s beneficial for the company and what is beneficial for the customer. Take a hard look at your setup to smooth out a few processes and hopefully have the customers sailing through your site with ease. The goal is to give the customer enough information to make an informed decision. This will lead to fewer returns and happier customers.

3. Unify information at all sell points

These days most successful brands have an internet presence, sometimes across multiple platforms. You may have a webshop that you sell your product on, but you also offer it on Amazon and maybe a local market website. Customers are tech savvy and price aware and once they find a product on your site will most likely search to see if there is a cheaper option available.

Make absolutely sure that the information you provide for each site is accurate and consistent. Be clear about important key-words and set your terms for each platform if you have the option.

It may be tempting to discount your price on certain sites, for example on a local market website, to gain popularity and brand awareness in your immediate environment. This can come back to bite you, however, as it will diminish the trust a customer has in your brand.

Of course, if you’re working with third parties, you have less control on the price and conditions, but try to unify what’s in your circle of influence. Follow this standard for product information, purchase and return conditions, pricing and any other information available.

This may seem like a small thing to nitpick, but every step you can take to create trust and provide a consistent source of information will help to build up your ideal customer experience.

4. Use social media to support customer experience

Social media channels like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook or even LinkedIn should be a part of your customer experience program. Share a consistent stream of product information (and inspiration!) through your channels. These platforms are an easy-going, friendly way to be in touch with your customers and for them to get in touch with you.

Your social media customer experience strategy can be planned, reviewed and tested in a relatively safe environment and there are lots of experts who can help you set this up.

Plan to have certain answers and information readily available for your social media managers. Their interactions will be short, with a fast response time, allowing for less finetuning.

Remember that a social media interaction, unlike an email, happens on a public platform. Customers value friendly, informed engagement when they have questions or complaints about your product. The key is to be consistent. Here are some common standards to follow:

  1. Avoid giving misleading statements, which should be a no-brainer, but with fast human interaction this is something to keep firmly in mind.
  2. Don’t be drawn into discussions. Ever!
  3. Don’t make any concessions or exceptions to your policies on a social media platform. Sure, you may at times make case-by-case exceptions as a business owner. But you do not want to set a precedent for preferential treatment online where the general public is your audience.
  4. Do keep interactions friendly, to the point, and consistent.

5. Support your CS department as an end-of-line solution

You’ve identified your ideal customer, specialized your marketing, streamlined your processes and been consistent in information and interaction. For the majority of your customers this has resulted in a positive experience and a purchase. (Which is why we have jumped through all these hoops in the first place!)

That said, there will always be customers who will want to get in touch with you. This is, ideally, the only point where your end-of-line customer service department comes off the bench to join the game. Here are spme tips for running a successful customer service department:

  1. Understand the value of your CS staff and cherish them.
  2. Measure success by customer satisfaction, not bean counting.
  3. Motivate your CS employees with fair compensation and rewards.

Understand the value of your CS staff and cherish them

The CS department is still critical as a service provider. A true customer service person has the drive to help the other party as best they can. Those people are a rare breed and should be cherished: They are the reason your customer experience score is rising. But it’s important to understand how to set up your CS staff for success. By developing the four additional prongs of your customer experience program, you will eliminate the tedious work of answering common questions. Most of these questions will now be answered through the newly added parts of your CS program.

Measure success by customer satisfaction, not bean counting

Often, the KPIs a company sets for a customer experience program do not work in your favor. Avoid establishing limits to the program, like rules that say interactions with the customers should be no more than 2 minutes or top out at a maximum of 2 emails. This way of working reflects back to the mindset that customer service is a drain on profit.

Instead of measuring success by looking at call times and the number of emails the person has handled, look more towards customer satisfaction: That is the critical component of the ideal customer experience. For almost all customers who get in touch with customer service, this department has the means to retain a customer for life or drive them away forever. The way the interaction pans out is heavily influenced by you. Ideally, you’ll have freed up your CS employees to properly help when customers do have unexpected questions or issues.

Motivate your CS employees with fair compensation and rewards

The motivation of your employees is another factor you can influence. Motivated customer service employees create a better experience for the customer and are more willing to go the extra mile to get something resolved. Remember: a customer is most likely to share a positive experience 7 times, but a negative experience 15 times.

Fair compensation is one of the biggest motivators for employees. If you provide a decent salary, one that a person can live on, instead of having to find two additional jobs to make ends meet, a person will be more motivated to keep that job and more invested in your company.

It’s also important to keep your employee interested in the work. It does not help with motivation to answer the same questions 25 times a day. By reducing the number of emails, phone calls, and chats, you’ve already freed up time for your employees to provide a meaningful experience to the customers they do get.

The bottom line

There are many components to an ideal customer experience. Of course, it is not always possible to create that experience in one go, but that is not the point I’m trying to convey here.

The point is that, when you keep the customer top-of-mind, you will always find areas where you can improve.

There is no set model—you can create and tailor the experience to the uniqueness of your brand— but hopefully these tips will help you build a customer experience program that sticks in the minds of customers for a long time.

This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the independent freelancer listed as the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
This article was submitted by and expresses the views and opinions of the author. They do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork, and Upwork does not explicitly sponsor or endorse any of the views, opinions, tools or services mentioned in this article, all of which are provided as potential options according to the view of the author. Each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situations.
Article Author
Author
Linda V.
Customer Service Manager
Roosendaal, Netherlands
Customer Service

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