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GuidesCustomer researchChecklist: How to improve customer experience

Checklist: How to improve customer experience

Last updated

15 February 2023

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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The customer experience (CX) is a crucial area to improve because it can significantly impact your business' bottom line. Outstanding CX can increase customer loyalty, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations to drive sales and revenue.

On the other hand, negative CX can lead to lost customers and a damaged reputation. Trust and reputation are all-important in today's digital age. Customers have more options than ever, so providing a positive CX can be a critical differentiator in a crowded market. 

This post will provide a comprehensive checklist of items that will improve your business' CX.

The checklist is broken down into several sections to make it easier to follow. In addition, the steps are sequential, indicating the approximate order they should be completed—research steps come first, and action steps follow.

Keep in mind that maintaining a stellar customer experience is a continuous process, so keep this checklist handy. 

Gathering customer feedback

The first step in improving your CX is determining its weak spots.  To do this, you'll need to gather some feedback from customers.

1. Surveys and questionnaires

Typically, only very happy (or very unhappy) customers take it upon themselves to provide feedback. You can get a broader range of perspectives and more reliable data by encouraging input from usually silent customers.

A great way to reach out is to send surveys and questionnaires to your customers politely requesting that they take a few moments to help your business grow and improve service delivery. 

2. Social media listening

Just because we want opinions from a broad range of customers—not just the outliers—doesn't mean that those who are extremely happy or unhappy shouldn't be listened to. For example, if many people are vocal about one area of your business being subpar, it's time to look at the validity of those complaints.

When customers want to sing your praises (or warn everyone else to stay away), social media is one of the primary avenues they use. By monitoring your social media accounts and their comments (social listening), you can get quick insights into what you're doing well versus what needs improvement.

3. Customer feedback channels

In addition to using social media, customers may come to you directly with complaints or compliments. Of course, every business has some way of letting customers contact them, but have you made it as easy as possible for customers to provide feedback?

Let’s say you have collected submissions from your site’s contact form or responses from your latest customer survey. You’ll need to organize the information into data sets so you can spot trends or patterns. Oftentimes, software for collecting survey responses will enable you to label or group your data in meaningful ways. For example, seeing which words or phrases customers repeatedly attribute to interacting with your team. 

Finally, systematically collecting behavioral data from customer interactions with your website or digital products is another frictionless way to gather feedback and find out what your customer is doing online. Common areas to examine include how long they stay on your site, what they click on the most, or how often they abandon their shopping cart.  

Analyzing customer data

After you've gathered your feedback, it's time to process the data so you can see what it's telling you.

As you read through your customer feedback (regardless of where it came from), patterns will emerge. For example, one person may complain about a specific aspect of your company, but 20 others may rave about it. Conversely, if a disproportionate number of users make the same complaint, that's an area with clear room for improvement.

In addition to discerning feelings of disappointment versus ranting and raving, patterns in more nuanced data from surveys, forms, or analytics can be very telling. For example, if you have many ideas for new features, a review of quantitative data can reveal that your customers have entirely different ideas in mind.

Why go with a hunch that a new feature will succeed when you can build your services and customer experience around real-world data? 

5. Using data analysis tools

Data analysis tools like Google Analytics are superb for automating feedback analysis. They can help you identify areas for improvement without specific feedback.

For example, you can monitor wait times for a response from your customer service team. In addition, you may find high bounce rates on a particular page of your website that indicates a navigation issue. (This topic could be a whole post, so fully explore the options available and choose a tool to uncover the type of data you want to dig into).  

6. Understanding customer demographics and psychographics

Customer demographics, such as age, gender, income, and interests, can help you create a more tailored experience for those individuals. For example, if you know that a large portion of your customer base is working mothers, you may want to offer more flexible hours. Similarly, if you know that many of your customers are tech-savvy millennials, you could invest in advanced technology and create more interactive, engaging web content

Identifying common pain points and issues

With the data properly processed, you can look at the results and find the areas needing the most improvement.

7. Identifying areas of friction

The first step to fixing issues in your customer experience is to identify the areas that are causing problems for customers. Often the data will reveal long wait times for responses, poor website navigation options, and inconvenient hours, among other potential issues. 

8. Understanding customer needs and expectations

Once you know where the friction points are, you need a plan to address them. First, you need to understand what customers expect from a resolution.

For example, a working mom who wants more convenient hours is probably happier shopping in the evening rather than in the very early hours of the morning when the baby is sleeping. The only way to know for sure is to ask or analyze behavior patterns after implementing the new hours.

9. Prioritizing areas for improvement

If this is the first time you've taken a hard look at your customer experience, you've likely amassed an extensive list of items that could improve. Some of the things will be critical. Others may be trivial. Giving a great customer experience means addressing as many issues as possible, but you must prioritize the critical problems ahead of the trivial ones. Start by identifying how detrimental a situation is, then examine how widespread it is (how many customers are affected).

Personalization

A significant aspect of customers' positive or negative regard for your company comes down to how personalized your interactions with them are.

10. Using customer data to personalize interactions

Understanding your customers' needs and wants will help you cultivate an experience that will be pleasant in their circumstances. For example, perhaps you have an e-learning platform, and your users are primarily adults with full-time jobs and children they’re tending to while studying. Now you know that they value time and focus. So, making your experience easy to save and open back up if they get interrupted shows users they are cared for and their needs are understood.

11. Creating personalized communication and marketing campaigns

In addition to customizing experiences to your customers’ top needs, aspects of your historical relationship with them can provide personalization options, such as making product recommendations based on their preferences. For example, it's common to send marketing emails with the latest product updates or sales. If you make those products more relevant and meaningful to your recipient based on their known preferences, they’ll be that much closer to considering or even buying the product or service.

Empowering employees

Not only do your employees need to be on board with the new shift in focus toward customer experience, but they also need to be empowered to be proactive toward that goal.

12. Providing training and development

A wide range of training programs exists to help employees better assist their customers. These courses may focus on customer service best practices or communication skills. Boosting relevant training on your product offerings (beyond their current knowledge level)  can also improve their responsiveness and ability to help offer relevant solutions. The cost of developing or providing training pays for itself by retaining happier customers.

13. Encouraging employee engagement

Engaged employees are more motivated to provide high-quality service and are more likely to take ownership of customer interactions. But only some employees are highly engaged by default. Building a culture of engagement can bring less enthusiastic employees on board.

You can encourage employee engagement by creating a positive work environment, providing opportunities for employee feedback (and taking their input seriously), and recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts.

14. Allowing for autonomy in customer interactions

Some companies place overly strict requirements on how much autonomy their employees have, which can be horrible for creating a positive customer experience.

Greater independence, like the power to extend the customer a discount on a future purchase, allows employees to be more responsive and tailor their interactions to the needs of each customer. 

By giving employees reasonable freedom to make decisions and take ownership of customer interactions, businesses can ensure that customers receive personalized, efficient, and effective service.

Providing excellent customer service

A large part of the customer experience is how promptly they get answers and resolutions.

15. Providing multiple channels for customer support

Nearly everyone has a preferred way of communicating—talking on the phone, emailing, or using a built-in messenger on their favorite social app.

Meeting your customer on their terms is a great way to cultivate the best possible CX.

Therefore, use the communication method which is the most popular among your customer demographic.

Using the communication tools they gravitate to can be a powerful way to reinforce trust, signaling that your business “gets them.”

16. Setting service standards

Setting written CX standards is the first step to tracking and providing a great experience. These standards can be simple, especially at the start.

Perhaps your call center must answer the phone before the fourth ring.

Maybe your customer support team must reply to emails within two business days.

The standards themselves will be specific to your business.

By setting standards for how your business interacts with your customers, you'll foster a consistent, positive experience instead of leaving things to chance. 

17. Continuously monitoring and improving service quality

At the start of this list, we established that maintaining a good CX is a continuous process. Once you've set your standards,  determine the metrics required to track them and begin doing so.

How many days can you go without the phone ringing the fourth time? Which employees are most likely to let it ring longer?

Standards are only valuable when they are continuously monitored.  Similarly, customer feedback can change over time. Therefore, make customer surveys regular to ensure your customer experience won’t lose a step or two over time.

Implementing technology to streamline processes

There are many tools available that modernize the customer experience.

18. Automating repetitive tasks

Technology now allows us to automate much of the tedious work we once had to do by hand. Automating repetitive tasks frees employee time to focus on tasks that will improve CX.

Easily automated tasks include data entry, customer account management, and answering common customer questions or support inquiries. It also enhances the efficiency and accuracy of these tasks, reducing the potential for errors and delays that degrade the customer experience.

19. Implementing self-service options

Self-service options, such as online portals, chatbots, and FAQ sections, provide customers with immediate access to information and assistance. In addition, self-service options can reduce the need for customers to contact customer service representatives, allowing them to quickly and efficiently resolve their issues independently.

Instead of getting answers to their questions in hours or even days, it takes just a few minutes. It also frees up time for your customer support team to spend more time helping people whose problems aren't as easily solved.

20. Using data analytics to improve decision-making

Using data analytics to improve decision-making can help businesses make more informed decisions about customer service. By analyzing customer data, companies can identify patterns, trends, and areas of improvement.

This process can include analyzing customer feedback, monitoring customer satisfaction rates, and tracking customer interactions with customer service representatives. Monitoring analytics is the easiest way to ensure that your efforts to improve your customer experience are paying off. If you find that they aren't, you can quickly understand why and pivot to trying something that shows more promise.

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