The 5 Pillars of Customer Experience (CX)

Five ancient pillars with sunset sky background - five pillars of cx
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When striving to deliver great CX, it’s easy to become distracted by the latest trends and technology and lose sight of the fundamentals.

That’s why our Editor, Megan Jones, interviewed Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer (CAO) at Shepard Presentations LLC, about the key elements of CX that consistently underpin a great experience. Here’s what he said…

1. Convenience

Convenience is all about making life easy for your customers.

So, what does this mean in the contact centre? Everything from making it easy to find your phone number on your website (so customers aren’t forced to use self-service when they don’t want to), right through to your authentication process, and agents’ ability to resolve queries on the first contact.

When striving for convenience, key questions to think about include:

  • Does the agent already know who is calling?
  • How many times will a customer have to repeat information to the IVR/ various agents?
  • Are your agents truly empowered to make customer-focused decisions? Or will they likely be transferring through to another agent or department?

And why make it convenient? There’s clear evidence that this is highly valued by customers, as these stats from The State of Customer Service and CX (2024) research show:

  • 94% of customers felt that convenience was important (even more important than knowledgeable employees).
  • 87% are willing to recommend the brand or the company (if they are convenient) to their friends and family members.
  • 70% are willing to pay more for a convenient experience.

2. Personalization

Gold person on black id
77% feel personalization is
important in their experience.

77% feel personalization is important in their experience. So how well do you really know your customers?

Personalization extends to everything from knowing their name, to how often they’ve shopped with you, how often they’ve called in for support, and even the reasons they’ve called in.

With a good system in place, agents can be automatically alerted to this.

This gets even more exciting as the latest capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) can tell you even more about the customer than your customer can themselves – thanks to data-driven profiling.

For example, if you’ve got a large customer base of over 10,000 customers and your customer matches up to 2,000 of those customers (in terms of product bought, same questions asked, same buying pattern), AI can really take personalization to the next level!

By layering in information about other customers – including questions asked and other products purchased – you can personalize the experience by telling the customer answers to questions they don’t even know they need to ask (and eventually will ask if you don’t answer them today). This could extend to upgrade and cross-sell opportunities too.

If you are looking for some ideas on how to personalize your CX, read our article: 21 Steps to a More Personalized Customer Experience

3. Choice

Many contact centres are currently debating their mix of channels – particularly human agent vs. self-service channels – but if you’re going to be in business today, you’ve got to offer customers a choice of both!

It’s the companies that focus on just one of these channels that are at risk! Why? Self-service is important, but we should also acknowledge what customers want when they’re trying to get customer support – as research shows:

70% of Customers Prefer the Phone Over Digital Self-Service

The number one channel of communication for customer support is still the phone! In fact, research shows 70% of customers prefer the phone over a digital self-service channel – and this has been the case for the past 4 years.

The number one channel of communication for customer support is still the phone!

Whilst this is surprising with all that’s going on in the world of AI and self-service, this is likely due to the inconsistency in the standard of service offered across different organizations.

By way of example, some companies have stepped up and incorporated generative AI and other functionality to create a better experience, but not all have!

For customers, this means that many have yet to have a good experience with self-service, so they gravitate to picking up the phone first.

26% Stopped Doing Business With a Company Because It Didn’t Offer Self-Service

Despite these high statistics and clear preferences for the phone, research also showed that 26% stopped doing business with a company because it didn’t offer a self-service solution.

Of course, this also differs by age. When it comes to phone preference vs. self-service, 82% of boomers prefer the phone, whilst for Gen Z this becomes just over half.

This means that almost half of your younger generation of customers would prefer to go digital versus using the phone – possibly because it’s more intuitive to them – so you really need to offer choice to deliver great CX to all customers.

For some great advice on improving your self-service, read our article: 20 Tips to Simplify Your Self-Service Strategy

4. Feedback

It’s more important than ever to understand what your customers think of you and your products.

Two people with review stars in speech bubble
It’s more important than ever to understand
what your customers think of you and your products.

That’s why another pillar of CX is to listen to feedback, and critically to act on what you are learning from capturing the customer’s voice!

After all, it’s one thing to get the feedback, it’s another thing to do something with the feedback!

Why? Research shows 72% of customers said they never heard back from a company after completing a satisfaction survey, and therefore 71% assumed the company won’t be making any changes based on their feedback.

So, if you often wonder why you’re not getting the levels of feedback that you want, perhaps it’s because you’re not closing the loop. When did you last thank customers for their feedback or show them what changes you’ve made based on their comments?

Not sure? Well, the secret to success here is to embrace feedback, act on the feedback AND then let that customer know how they influenced what you are doing as a result of what they said!

For example, get into the habit of sending updates to your customer base such as:

Based on your feedback over the last year [referring to the comments and feedback of the general population of your customers], here are some of the changes that we’ve made [insert changes].

Please send us more feedback in future, because we really want to hear your thoughts and we will continue to use these ideas to shape your experience with us.

We have a great article that can help you close the feedback loop. For more, read: How to Provide Closed-Loop Feedback With Employees and Customers

5. Respect

Finally, let’s talk about respect! Do you consistently prove to your customers that you respect them?

61% of customers don’t think companies or brands respect their time!

Sadly, there’s a lot of work to do here, as 61% of customers don’t think companies or brands respect their time!

This covers everything from being put on hold for a long time, being passed around the department, or waiting around for an email response.

The research shows just how business critical this is too, as 51% of customers are likely or very likely to switch from a company or leave a brand because they had to wait too long on hold, whilst 72% of customers are likely or very likely to leave because the brand kept transferring them to different agents and they had to repeat themselves again and again.

If respect is seriously lacking in your contact centre, you can turn the situation around by rethinking your customer journey.

For example, if you’re going to make the customer wait, let them know how long they’re going to have to wait for and then give them an option for a callback.

☆☆☆☆☆

Always Be Amazing!

Shep Hyken, CAO (Chief Amazement Officer) at Shepard Presentations LLC
Shep Hyken

So, if you’re determined to deliver amazing customer interactions time after time, stop getting distracted by the latest trends and double-check you are getting the core experience right first.

Why? When you are truly delivering against convenience, personalization, choice, feedback, and respect, your customers will thank you with their loyalty – and everyone wins!

With thanks to Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer (CAO) at Shepard Presentations LLC for contributing to this article.

For more great information on customer experience (CX) read these articles next:

Author: Megan Jones
Reviewed by: Xander Freeman

Published On: 15th May 2024 - Last modified: 7th Jun 2024
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , , , , ,

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