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Enhancing The Customer Experience: A Template For Review and Forward Strategy

Ben Segal

Customer experience is the cornerstone of any organization — without customers, there is no business — and so it merits the attention of stakeholders business-wide. Too often though, companies find themselves in one of two positions, taking the customer for granted when things are going well, or simply fighting individual fires when things are going badly — without devoting sufficient time to understanding their customers on a deeper level. 

Taking a Deep Dive: The CX Reporting Template

Consistency and comprehensiveness are key to an effective annual CX review. To help you ensure you’ve covered all the bases, we’ve designed an easy-to-use template that you can download and use as the basis for your internal reviews.

The three-section template prompts users to complete an annual summary of KPIs, an analysis of the most frequent contact reasons and areas for improvement, as well as a detailed planner for tackling high-priority CX issues.

View the example template here and then take an editable copy for your own use:

In this guide, experienced user Ben Segal lays out a step-by-step approach to reviewing the customer experience within your business — and identifying how you can enhance it through 2024 and beyond. It’s designed to help you reflect comprehensively and effectively on the past year's achievements and shortcomings in customer experience, evaluate emerging technological needs, set realistic expectations for leadership, and implement practical measurement tools for continuous improvement.

Precap: In this guide, Ben offers advice on:

  • Identifying successes and addressing shortcomings
  • Evaluating and enhancing your tech stack
  • Managing expectations of CX at the C-suite level
  • Implementing effective reporting and analysis
  • Practical tips for proactive, innovative CX
  • Plus: access to our comprehensive CX Reporting Template, which you can use to review CX performance annually in your own business.

1. Reflecting on the Past Year

To plan for future success, you first need to make an honest appraisal of what you’ve achieved so far. The start of a new year is an ideal time to review the positive and negative aspects of customer service in your business over the previous 12 months and identify the most important lessons learned.

Identifying Successes

A valuable source of information is positive customer feedback — which can help you to pinpoint which aspects of your service customers value the most. Look for recurring patterns of feedback within customer interactions and identify how those positive experiences could be replicated across other channels, departments, or teams. 

An effective way to do this is by creating case studies based on specific instances or interactions where your CX team excelled — as this can help place the positive feedback you’ve received into context. This can make it easier to identify specific factors that contributed to the successful outcome and develop a model interaction that can then be replicated or scaled to other scenarios.

Addressing Shortcomings

Of course, negative feedback is also a vital source of actionable insights — especially where there are identifiable patterns that suggest the same issues are cropping up repeatedly. Analyzing customer conversations to understand the most common problems customers are facing with your service is a useful exercise — allowing you to prioritize the most impactful issues to address first.

Feedback from the customer-facing team is important here, to establish the wider context in which negative customer experiences occur, and the root causes. These could be directly related to the CX team’s performance, for example, long wait times or lack of ticket updates — or issues in the wider organization, such as complaints about pricing, product features, or logistics. 

Metrics to Enhance

CSAT is a crucial metric for CX teams, and enhancing it is a business-wide responsibility. But, focusing solely on the customer service function, a practical way to improve satisfaction is to upskill your team — providing engaging training and development resources with a focus on soft skills such as empathy, product knowledge, and problem-solving.

Freeing up your agents to apply those skills in complex or emotive interactions is also crucial — which is where AI-driven chatbots can be invaluable. By handling many of the routine inquiries and tickets that make up the majority of your interactions, they give trained agents space to focus on those issues that need a human touch.

To maintain a high quality of service, you also need to build in a monitoring process, to ensure that customer interactions are handled consistently, and in line with company policies and procedures. Regular internal audits as well as less formal team feedback sessions can help maintain standards, and allow you to identify any areas of weakness before your customer does.  

2. Evaluating and Enhancing Your Tech Stack

In today’s businesses, a CX function is only as good as the technology that supports it — and it’s important to regularly audit your use of technology as requirements change over time. What was fit for purpose in 2021 may not be delivering the value you need in 2024.

Analyzing Current Technologies

An annual review is an ideal time to gather feedback on how well the tools you have implemented are supporting your CX agents in delivering excellent service — and where they may fall short. Thinking of your agents as your customers can help here — you can use the same feedback tools and processes you use for your customers to understand how effective your employees find the tools and platforms you supply them with.

Quantitative analysis is also important — you should be able to assess how effective a particular technology solution is by measuring its impact on your KPIs. Mapping changes in technology to fluctuations in metrics like CSAT, first-reply time, or time-to-resolution over a year can help identify which technologies are delivering value, and which may not be.

Decision-Making on Tech Partners

If you’ve identified a need to introduce new technology to your stack, choosing the right partner is important — especially where several providers for a single technology exist. Your choice will therefore depend not just on features and functionality, but the quality of the support provided, their customer service, and the added value they can bring to your business.

Thinking long-term is also crucial. Onboarding new technology comes with a significant time and resource cost. Ideally, you should be looking for solutions that will evolve and scale with your business as you grow, rather than those that will require intensive maintenance, upgrades, or development work to keep pace with changing requirements. In the age of LLMs and Generative AI, solutions like Lang that allow for automatic maintenance of tag taxonomies or chatbots like Ada that don’t require manual maintenance are good options that will evolve with you as your business changes.

3. Setting Expectations for the C-Suite 

Maintaining a collaborative and understanding relationship with C-level executives is crucial for CX departments to flourish — without sponsorship and support from above, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to implement meaningful change. 

Scenario-Based Budgeting

One tactic for getting buy-in from senior executives is to use potential future scenarios to illustrate the risks and opportunities associated with investment (or lack of investment) in specific areas of CX,  which helps in preparing for and mitigating adverse outcomes. 

Strategic budgeting is also key — by aligning your financial planning with the company’s overall growth projections you can reinforce the link between better CX and a healthier bottom line, underlining the importance of scaling CX spending proportionally as the customer base increases.

Effective Communication with Leadership

Not all executives are detail-oriented, so as well as offering reports and projections, you need to be able to construct an engaging narrative to capture the attention of the “big picture” thinkers at the top table. Creating and sharing “success stories” — mini case studies of specific CX achievements — is an effective way of illustrating how investments and improvements in CX have directly benefited the business, in a format that’s easy to understand.

Talking about future trends is also a winner with many executives, as the nature of their role means they’re focused on what’s ahead more than what’s already happened. Make sure to keep the C-suite informed about relevant developments in technology, processes, or customer behaviors that are likely to impact the business in the future, and your plans to take advantage of them.

4. Ensuring Effective Communication, Internally and Externally 

Analysing how well mission-critical information is communicated is a key aspect of evaluating CX performance — whether that’s between different stakeholders in the same organization, or through external channels where customers request support or give feedback.

Channel Evaluation

If customers find it difficult or time-consuming to communicate with you, they are likely to disengage. Closely monitoring channel usage, and comparing different channels based on key metrics is therefore essential to determine the right mix of options to offer — the aim is an effective optichannel strategy rather than an indiscriminate multichannel approach. Interfaces should be user-friendly and accessible across multiple platforms, allowing customers to easily share their experiences and suggestions and generating invaluable insights that can guide improvements and innovation in products or services. 

Implementing effective tracking of agent performance and customer interactions is equally essential for maintaining a positive customer experience. This enables a targeted approach to training and development, ensuring that agents are well-equipped to meet and exceed customer expectations — as well as a better understanding of customer needs and preferences, leading to more personalized and efficient service delivery.

Ensuring Accountability and Transparency

To promote accountability and transparency within your organization, it is crucial to conduct regular training sessions for your team. Sessions should focus on how to accurately interpret and act upon the data collected from various sources  — ensuring that decisions are informed and objective, and align with the organization's goals and values.

Holding regular meetings with all stakeholders to discuss CX performance metrics, share insights, and collaboratively identify strategies for improvement is another key aspect of a transparent culture. This inclusive approach not only builds trust but also leverages the diverse perspectives of different stakeholders to enhance the decision-making process, and helps engender a sense of involvement and ownership of the company’s CX goals throughout the organization.

5. Looking Ahead: 6 Areas Of Focus for CX Success in 2024

Key Actions for Businesses in 2024

Once you’ve completed an in-depth review of your achievements in CX over the year, it’s time to look to the future. I’ve identified six key areas where forward-thinking businesses should be taking action in 2024.

  • Employee Engagement and Training: Engage with your customer service representatives to leverage their direct interactions with customers for invaluable insights. Regular training sessions should focus on soft skills, product updates, and customer handling techniques.
  • Customer Journey Mapping: Map the customer journey in as much detail as possible to understand navigation through your support service and identify crucial satisfaction touchpoints, using CX data and analytics for personalization.
  • Proactive Customer Service: Develop strategies to anticipate future customer needs based on past behaviors, utilizing AI to process contact data and derive useful action points.
  • Leveraging Data Analytics: Use profile data to segment your customer base for targeted communication and predictive analytics to interrogate data for trend prediction and strategic preparation.
  • Building a Customer-Centric Culture: Empower employees at all levels as advocates of your brand’s customer-centric culture, facilitating regular feedback collection and analysis for continuous improvement.
  • Innovation and Adaptation: Encourage a culture of innovation and stay ahead of industry trends, ready to adapt strategies and technologies to meet changing customer needs.
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