Customer experience is a vital element of a startup’s growth. In fact, surveys have shown that 86% of customers are ready to pay more for a better experience and that 49% of buyers will make an impulse purchase after receiving a personalized email. Knowing this, it’s clear you need to work on improving the experiences a customer has with your brand from the outset.
After all, what better time to think about customer experience than at this very moment, as you are just starting out? Grab the opportunity before your processes are entrenched and much more difficult to change and reinvent.
Startups that get customer experience right early on have a much better chance of attracting investors and reaching that coveted sustainability stage. Here are my five tips for nailing it as a new business.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (or CX) is the amalgamation of all the experiences and interactions a customer has with your business, from their first point of contact all the way down your sales funnel.
Those who have a positive experience with your brand are more likely to become repeat customers, and ultimately, brand advocates. On the other hand, a single bad experience can cause even a loyal customer to leave your brand for good.
In other words, you need to not only lay down solid CX foundations as you begin to build your brand but also continually revise and build on them, ensuring that every single customer interaction is a positive one.
1. Plan your website’s information architecture.
Information architecture mapping is often undervalued and overlooked as a task. There’s nothing particularly appealing about it, and it’s not nearly as flashy as lead generation or social media marketing. However, it is the very essence of CX, as its purpose is to ensure customers don’t get lost on your website. With proper architecture, you’ll ensure they can always find exactly what they are looking for.
Information architecture is the way you organize and label the content on your website, and it defines the path a visitor needs to take to find a specific piece of information. Every decision you make IA-wise will impact how easily a user is able to navigate your website.
To ensure your visitors never get lost, you will first need to understand them and how they see your product or service. Which terms do they use, and what are they looking to get from you?
Once you have your terminology down, organize your pages in an intuitive way. Don’t believe the search bar will make up for a lack in IA, as most people will want to access key information from your main menu.
Finally, don’t make up your own terms for the most obvious of pages. Your “contact us” page should be “contact us,” not your “chat to us” or “give us a call” page.
Here’s a good example of a website that has great IA. Time Tackle has made their most important sections (their Use Cases and their Features) available from the main navigation bar, and they are also clearly labeled on the homepage.
The terms they use are also uniform and clear. There is nothing fancy about them, but they make navigating the website and pinpointing the correct information easy for all kinds of users: agencies, executives, or sales managers.
2. Implement customer loyalty programs.
A survey of over 18000 consumers has shown that 75% of customers will favor a brand if it offers a loyalty program. They will also shop more frequently and increase their lifetime value, especially if they have an emotional relationship with the brand.
Keep in mind that retaining customers is more affordable than acquiring new ones (not to mention more profitable). So, a simple loyalty program can go a very long way in helping you grow your new business.
In order for a loyalty program to truly work, it needs to tick two boxes:
- Elicit an emotional response.
- Make sense to your customers.
First, the rewards you offer need to tickle your target audience. If they are not interested in saving money, but they are interested in saving the planet, offering discounts won’t be as enticing as taking concrete steps to make your company eco-conscious
Bear in mind that most customers are still looking to get a discount or a freebie. Basing your loyalty program around savings and allowing customers to choose their prizes is always a great place to start.
As for the emotional component, you want to make your customers feel heard and valued. If they feel you care about them and share their ethos, they’ll form a much deeper connection with your brand.
Speak their language, and approach your relationship as more than just transactional. These are real people, complete with worries and interests. Appeal to their humanity rather than their wallet.
A brand that is often cited as having the best loyalty program in the world is Sephora. Their Beauty Insider scheme does it all. It provides rewards that shoppers actually want, speaks directly to the customer in their own language, and fosters a community.
While you may not be able to achieve a similar reach, these key pillars are already within your reach. Make sure to implement them.
3. Be available in person.
A positive customer experience is all about the human touch. Doing business with a faceless brand is never the same as chatting to a person whose name you know and who goes out of their way to help you out.
You can’t have a one-on-one conversation with each customer, but you can personalize a lot of your communication. You’ll do this by paying attention to the discounts you offer, the products you recommend, and even the way you structure your emails and segment your email list. The closer you hit home, the better the CX will be.
Opening the avenues of communication (and offering a lot of them) is a great first step to take. Take a look at Rain or Shine Golf and how they have made themselves available.
- listed all the different ways a customer can contact them in their header and footer
- offered their email address as well as two separate phone numbers (one for calls, the other for texts)
- included their office hours, so you know when you can expect a reply
- implemented a live chat feature that floats over the screen and is always available
Plus, their Facebook profile is just as welcoming, with its Messenger chatbot launching instantly as the profile page is loaded.
Don’t limit the customer’s experience to your website, phone number, or email alone, either. Offer support on social media too. Whether someone tags you with a question or you find a mention via a social listening tool, always take the time to reply.
Social support is a terrific way of showing prospective customers that you take customer experience seriously. That goes especially for platforms like Twitter, where follower interactions are publicly visible.
JetBlue Airways shows us how this is done on its Twitter feed. It has no shortage of genuine empathy and excellent examples of customer service.
4. Speak directly to your audience.
Let’s be completely honest about something: Most customers won’t care about your brand one bit. They will care about themselves and what you are able to do for them. Which is why focusing too much on your brand in your website’s copy would be a huge CX mistake to make.
The goal of your copywriting efforts should be to answer the “what’s in it for the customer” question as soon as possible. In fact, immediately. Don’t make someone read through half of your homepage before they get to this particular point.
The copy you write needs to be relatable and meaningful to your target audience. They need to understand it instantly and walk away understanding what they can expect. You need to showcase measurable benefits and prove your value.
Refrain from vanity information. Create an in-depth company story page if you really need to, where you can brag if you can’t help it. However, your main goal should still be telling a story that will help your audience connect with your brand.
Somnifix has done a good job of focusing on the customer. Their entire homepage is dedicated to explaining why a customer will benefit from their product, what problem the product solves, and why they should care.
This is especially important since their product is so niche. If that’s the case with your product, too, abstain from explaining what it is. Rather, go into detail on what it does.
5. Don’t force your visitors to read.
The more we’re exposed to the digital world, the shorter our attention span gets. It has dropped to a shocking eight seconds in 2021. What this means for your CX is this: Don’t make your website visitors read a lot. Instead, try to capture their attention with a video.
A video is not only more engaging but also boosts information retention, and it can help your audience connect with your brand more. It provides the opportunity to convey more information. You can add layers of emotion, values, meaning, and messaging to as little as 60 seconds.
Homepage videos are also good for SEO (provided that they load fast), as they prolong time on page and boost engagement metrics.
The type of video you choose to record will depend on your business. Whether you explain what it is you do, showcase your product, do a demo, or simply film a feel-good reel highlighting the benefits of doing business with you, a video can significantly boost CX.
Take a look at WhatsGood. Their short clip both highlights the benefits of their service and sends a powerful message about who they are as a brand. It showcases their sustainability, eco-friendliness, and community spirit.
While this is the right choice for this particular brand, you may need to go a different route. Remember, it’s all about the target consumer and what they will want to see.
Of the 100,000 businesses started today, only a third will live to see their 10th birthday. To find yourself a part of that minority, consider these five CX tips. By focusing on your customer rather than yourself, you can cement your brand in the hearts and minds of your target audience – and with a longer-lasting effect.