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6 ways to improve your CX without budget

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Budgets are in meltdown right now. A lot of companies are in survival mode, leading to severe cuts in departments like marketing – which is often where customer experience nests. The pressure to perform hasn’t changed, yet it’s likely you’ll have less budget to get the results you need. 

Customer experience shouldn’t be completely ignored when times get tough. We’ve seen amazing examples of companies that thrive thanks to a customer-centric approach for years. In fact, research by Deloitte found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared with companies that weren’t focused on the customer.

So how do you improve your CX without any extra funds to work with? 

Simple – by using these 6 ways to improve your customer experience with no budget (and a little hard work). 

1. Bring the ‘customer chair’ into every meeting

One way to always make sure you’re keeping the customer at the centre of every discussion is by reserving an empty chair for them during every meeting. Label it ‘customer’ – you can even give them a real name – and there’s no way you can ignore the new person in the room!

This was a technique designed for in-person meetings, but you can also implement it during the remote work era by getting a person on your team to embody the customer during video calls 

The purpose is to spread this reflex to teams and stakeholders, so it’s important that it’s not always the same person in the virtual chair. 

In time, no-one will forget the client anymore during discussions. The chair technique will disrupt the way you conduct meetings and make decisions. 

And the best part? It doesn’t cost a penny. 

2. Think like a unicorn

If I’m being honest, I find it really hard to relate to unicorn companies. Sometimes I feel like they’re from another planet entirely. So what I do is try to take them as practical inspiration when I encounter a problem.

This is an easy method to implement because it’s likely that you come across business problems every day. So how do you solve them? By researching and brainstorming around the simple question:

  • What would Amazon do?
  • What would Zappos do?
  • What would ‘x’ company do?

It could also be a business you feel is a closer example to yours.

This method will help you come up with amazing ideas. Instead of checking these guys for ‘inspiration’, take action and put plans in motion. It drastically changes the dynamic of problem-solving and it’s free to set up.

3. Head out on a field trip

Companies often send people out to evaluate whether people on the field are doing a good job. But that’s not what I’m suggesting. A field trip shouldn’t be a way to show off a flagship store or a new delivered concept to management.

Instead, it needs to be seen as an opportunity to step into your customers’ shoes. This means you’ll need a new type of evaluation grid when you go on field trips. 

Here are my tips: 

  • Go unannounced and observe the people around you – they are your customers
  • Go through every step of the customer journey you’ve identified. There’s a good chance you’ll discover new steps
  • Notice the emotions around you, take notes and ask questions

I also encourage you to check out the competition in the same way. Visit companies that offer products or services that are part of the same customer journey as yours. You’ll learn a great deal from them and will also likely come up with fantastic ideas for collaboration

4. Treat every customer like a celebrity 

This one comes from customer service guru Geoff Ramm. The principle is super simple. If a celebrity were a customer, how would you treat them?

When you shape the customer experience around your product and service, just ask yourself this question.

Why should a celebrity, influencer or any VIP be entitled to a better CX than a real customer who actually has to pay for everything? 

Everywhere I’ve worked so far has always treated various customers differently, like there’s a hierarchy. But we should care as much about a random customer as a celebrity. 

Remember that customer experience is the sum of the thoughts, feelings and interactions that a customer has with and about your product and services journey and outcome.

So why not bring the vision and the questions of an overall celebrity experience into your decision process? It costs nothing to try it!

5. Stop seeking satisfaction 

Here we need a little bit of a mindset switch. Instead of focusing on client satisfaction – because people don’t buy satisfaction – define your product or service by the outcome you deliver to your customer.

You need to look beyond the horizons of your industry. For example, the outcome of Disney is magic and the outcome of Harvey Davidson is freedom. 

Get together with your team and observe the industries around you. Benchmark other companies that have different products and services but similar outcomes.

You’ll learn from them and, again, you’ll find some excellent opportunities for development and collaboration.

Once your outcome is clearly defined, this new way of looking at things will impact positively on your whole customer journey.

6. Consider the peak-end rule

I’m finishing with psychology. The peak-end rule says that the impact of an emotional experience is determined by the peak of emotional intensity and the ending intensity rather than the duration of the experience.

Think about the last time you went on a trip. What do you remember? A stunning view from the top of a mountain after a challenging trek? An immersive exhibition at a museum. A memorable morning on the beach with your family? You might also recall the moment when your holiday took a turn for the worse: maybe you thought of losing your passport or falling ill far from home. 

Whether the memories were happy or miserable, your overall impression of your last trip probably featured a few particularly strong moments.

The peak-end rule explains that: “We remember experiences in our lives as a series of snapshots rather than a complete catalog of events. Our minds quickly average the moments that most stand out in our memories to form our opinion of the past. The most emotionally intense points of an experience and the end of that experience are heavily weighted in how we remember an event.”

What follows is that understanding how our minds store information enables us to design more memorable products and to improve customers’ subjective opinions about user interfaces.

Always keep in mind that when you work on your customer journey, you’re building an experience. Your customer will recall only parts of it – especially the peak and the end.

So when you’re thinking about the last survey email you send after you closed the deal… is that really how you want to end this experience?

Every touchpoint counts, so the peak-end rule is all about bringing as much as you can when you design each experience.

Voila! These methods are must-haves when you’re working on your customer journey. Please let me know when you start to use them and the outcome they have :). And make sure you also download my free guide to designing your CX. 

Also, if you’re determined to improve your digital revolution, sign up for my Digital Letters – my weekly RDV for CX minds.

Amélie Beerens

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