Having a great customer experience can mean something different for everyone. For some, it’s being able to pay in their preferred method. For others, it’s about a website’s design and user experience.
But make no mistake—customer experience can make or break a customer’s relationship with your business.
That’s why customer experience improvement has seen a 19 percentage point increase in priority from 2019 to 2022, according to research from McKinsey & Company.
But given how vague “customer experience” can be, it’s difficult for some businesses to pin down. Ahead, you’ll learn everything about customer experience and how to improve it.
What is customer experience (CX)?
Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with your brand, from the moment they discover your company to after-sales support. A positive customer experience fosters brand loyalty, increases customer lifetime value, and drives word-of-mouth marketing.
Why is customer experience important?
Filip Pejic, founder of Pearly, a DIY bubble tea business, says customer experience is about “making sure the customer feels heard at all steps in the buying process. Resolving any issues or pain points as easily as possible, delivering a unique, seamless, and unexpectedly awesome experience.”
A good CX strategy has many benefits for your business:
- Improving customer retention and brand advocacy. Customer experience has a massive influence on retention and customer loyalty. A May 2022 survey found that 94% of customers stated a positive customer experience made them more likely to purchase again.
- Building brand awareness through word of mouth. eMarketer found that 84% of customers would recommend a company after excellent experiences.
- Making for happier employees. Some 45% of organizations cite improved employee experience as an important benefit of good customer experience.
Every touchpoint your customers have with your brand is a chance to create a positive customer experience, or a negative one.
What’s the difference between customer experience and customer service?
Although the terms “customer experience” and “customer service” often are used interchangeably, they refer to distinct initiatives.
- Customer experience encompasses the entire journey a customer has with a brand, from initial discovery and awareness to post-purchase interactions. It includes all touchpoints and channels, both online and offline.
- Customer service is a specific component of the broader customer experience. It refers to the assistance and support provided by a company to its customers, usually in response to inquiries, issues, or concerns.
What is a good customer experience?
A good customer experience is different for each business. It depends on what your customers value and what you can realistically provide.
However, there are a few universal truths that define a good customer experience:
- Every interaction is delightful. Even the little ones like a support ticket response or shipping email.
- Seamless and consistent customer journeys. It doesn’t matter if the customer interaction takes place in-store, online, or through customer support channels.
- Personalized and relevant communication. Customers appreciate experiences tailored to their individual needs, preferences, and behavior.
- Proactive. Address customer needs before an issue arises, with FAQs, self-service support, community forums, or a contact center.
- Engaging and memorable experiences. Innovative design, exceptional service, or unique experiences differentiate your brand from competitors.
- Responsiveness and empathy. Show a genuine understanding of customers needs and commitment to resolving issues promptly and effectively.
Causes of a bad customer experience
A poor customer experience can negatively impact your reputation and customer loyalty. The first step toward improving customer experience is to understand the common causes.
Here are some common factors:
- Inconsistency across channels
- Unresponsive or unhelpful customer service
- Unclear processes for purchasing, returns, or account management
- Subpar product or service quality
- Technical issues, like website downtime or payment processing errors
- Ignoring customer feedback
Think about the last time you were annoyed as a potential customer. What happened? It’s probably one of the reasons mentioned above.
How to measure customer experience
Thinking your business has a great customer experience differs from knowing it has.
So, how do you figure out if what you’re doing is working? You measure it. This section will cover some of the easiest and most reliable ways to measure your customer’s experiences.
- Customer effort score (CES)
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
- Time to resolution (TTR)
Customer effort score (CES)
Customer effort score refers to how much effort your customers have to put in to interact with your business. Or to put it another way, how easy or difficult it was for them to resolve an issue with your customer support team.
You’ll want to track this metric to ensure your CS team is doing its best to make things right with your customers. Happy customers = a better experience.
You’ll find most CES surveys are based on a single main question:
How easy was it to deal with [insert your brand] today, from 1 (very difficult) to 5 (very easy)?
Here’s an example from Monzo Bank:
As you can see in the example, asking for customer feedback or additional comments is common, which can help your business figure out any specific pain points they experience.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score is a popular metric businesses use to measure customer opinions. If you’ve ever interacted with a customer service representative before, you’ve probably come across the follow-up survey designed to generate an NPS.
It’s a favorite because, like CES, it has only a single question:
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?
You might see variations in the relationships (e.g., friend or family member), but the measurement of the question is still the same—a Likert scale from 1–5 or 1–10.
Here’s an example of an NPS survey from Squarespace:
NPS surveys are a great option to get quick feedback, and you can send them via email, SMS, or in-app prompts, if applicable.
Customer satisfaction score (CSAT)
Another common customer experience metric is the customer satisfaction score (CSAT). CSAT is a score that measures your customers’ perception or overall happiness/satisfaction with your business.
It’s another survey you can send to your customers after their purchases, but it uses a few more open-ended questions than the other surveys. CSAT surveys are valuable because you can get more information about your customers’ experiences than a single scale.
Here’s an example from Just Eat:
You can use multiple-choice questions, free-text answer boxes, and sliding scales to help your loyal customers express their opinions better and help you understand their overall customer experience.
Time to resolution (TTR)
The time-to-resolution metric is also important to track, but it’s not something you send to your customers. It’s a behind-the-scenes measurement of how long it takes your customer support team to resolve an issue a customer is having.
The longer your TTR, the more likely it is to be a bad experience for the customer. You can also use a metric alongside first-time resolution (FTR) to see the percentage of support tickets resolved in the first contact versus how many take more than a single interaction.
To measure either of these metrics, you’ll need a software provider that helps you track your support ticket completion rates, such as HelpScout.
Customer experience example
Here’s a common experience you could add to your customer journey map:
Scenario: Online product return
John recently bought shoes from an ecommerce website. After receiving the shoes, he realized they were the wrong size. To return the shoes and request a different size, John had to navigate through the company’s return process.
Customer effort score survey
After completing the return process, John receives an email containing a CES survey from the company. It asks him to rate the ease of the return process on a scale of 1 (very easy) to 7 (very difficult).
John found the return process relatively straightforward. The website had a dedicated returns section with clear instructions and provided a prepaid shipping label.
However, John had to print the label himself, which he found inconvenient. As a result, John rates the ease of the return process as a 2 out of 7.
Analysis and Improvement
CES data shows that the company can streamline the return process by offering a more convenient way to print shipping labels. Customers could receive pre-printed labels in the mail or use digital shipping labels that can be scanned at the carrier’s location.
With CES, the company can measure and improve the customer experience, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and a higher likelihood of future purchases.
Best customer experience management tools
Would you like to chat to your customers from Instagram, Facebook, and more with one handy chatbot, in real time? How about knowing what’s in your customer’s cart when they reach out to you? Shopify Inbox is a free messaging app that lets you turn chats into checkouts.
It can be frustrating for customers to have purchased a product from you and not know where it is. Wonderment Post-Purchase is a tool that helps you sort orders by fulfillment status, carrier, or region.
It helps you let customers know if their order is delayed before they raise a support ticket about it. You can optimize all of your post-purchase experiences with this app.
Already use HubSpot for your customer relationship management (CRM) or email marketing needs? With the official HubSpot for Shopify integration, you better understand customer interactions, leverage automation, segment groups, and improve your customer experience management (CXM).
You can even sync the customer data you gather in your Shopify store to HubSpot and turn it into valuable marketing signals to use in your campaigns.
Build a better customer experiences for your customers
A great customer experience strategy is at the heart of any successful ecommerce store. It helps improve customer engagement and reduces customer churn rate.
Using the tips and tools in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to building a customer experience you can be proud of. One that both customers will appreciate every time they shop with you and improves your bottom line.
Ready to create your business? Start your free trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Customer experience FAQ
What is meant by customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) involves every element of a brand’s offer. It includes a positive experience with customer service teams, branding, packaging, marketing communications—any touchpoint during the customer’s journey.
What are the 3 main components of customer experience?
- Personalized shopping experiences
- Excellent customer care
- Meeting customers expectations
What is an example of customer experience?
Shoppers on an ecommerce website browse products, read reviews, check social media, add items to their carts, proceed to checkout, and receive post-purchase support. The entire process, from discovering the website to receiving the purchased items, is the customer experience.
What is a good customer experience?
A good customer-centric experience is one that is seamless, personalized, and easy to navigate. Customers feel valued and satisfied with the quality of products or services, prompt and empathetic customer support, and a consistent experience across all customer touchpoints.