20 Proven Ways to Improve Customer Experience at Each Stage of The Buyer’s Journey
This article is for you if you wish to deliver top-notch experiences but are not sure how. We’ve outlined 20 proven strategies to help you!
- Customer experience is the sum of a customer’s perception after direct or indirect interactions with your brand.
- Customer service is the interaction that occurs when a user runs into problems and emails, calls customer support, or visits your self-serve support center.
- In comparison, customer experience sums up all interactions before that user becomes a customer and after contacting your support, all the way until they churn.
Improving customer experience helps to:
- Increase customer loyalty and retention
- Facilitate free word-of-mouth marketing from happy customers
- Increase net revenue
20 ways to improve customer experience:
- Embrace the omnichannel mindset
- Use journey maps to visualize the customer experience and remove friction points
- Understand your audience and create user personas
- Personalize product experiences and communication based on user needs
- Use a checklist for a frictionless first-time customer experience
- Improve customer experience with UI feedback
- Track and improve customer experience KPIs and metrics at different touchpoints
- Deliver great customer service with a self-serve resource center
- Incorporate visual elements such as videos into your product experiences to make them more engaging
- Focus on providing a positive customer experience at every interaction
- Improve customer experience based on customer feedback
- Use UX analytics to identify friction points across the entire customer journey and eliminate them
- Implement customer loyalty programs
- Add human touch to customer interactions with webinars
- Celebrate important milestones with gamification and make your customers feel appreciated
- Go the extra mile and exceed customer expectations
- Take social proof seriously to enhance customer experience
- Constantly A/B test product experiences and find what resonates with users
- Drive additional value with relevant upsells and cross-sells
- Make customer experiences memorable even when users churn
- Sometimes, poor customer experience is traceable to subpar products, so don’t stop making your tool great!
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is the sum of a customer’s perception after direct or indirect interactions with your brand.
Pieces of this perception are formed at every stage of the customer’s journey and are responsible for the customer’s conclusions about you. It’s worthy of note that everything about you—from your website design to the attitude of customer service teams—affects the customer experience.
What is the difference between customer experience and customer service?
One is the subset of the other.
Customer service is just a fraction of the overall customer experience; it’s the interaction that occurs when a user runs into problems and contacts you directly or visits your self-serve support.
In other words, the customer experience only ends when a user stops using your tool, and customer service is a brief experience that typically lasts from a few minutes to a couple of days at most.
Why should SaaS companies aim to improve customer experience and customer satisfaction?
Customer-focused companies are big on optimizing the user experience. They do so because they understand customers are the backbone of every business. Specifically, here are the benefits of investing in positive customer experiences.
Good customer experiences drive loyalty and retention
According to research from PWC, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Furthermore, studies indicate that in the foreseeable future, customer experience will become more important than price and even the product itself.
Providing excellent customer experience removes friction and makes it easy for users to stick to your brand. Over time, many retained customers will become loyal fans.
A great customer experience results in word-of-mouth marketing
It’s natural. Customers will freely sing your praise to friends and family when you exceed their expectations. Some will do it privately, while others will take to social media and review sites to share their experiences. Either way, it means free publicity and referrals for your business.
Increased revenue thanks to upsells and lower marketing costs
This benefit follows the first two. Your loyal customers will keep renewing their subscriptions and even upgrade their accounts. In addition, free word of mouth means reduced marketing costs for you. All these lead to increased revenue while keeping CAC low.
How to improve customer experience at each stage of the buyer’s journey
Now we get to the meat of this article.
There are many ways to improve the SaaS customer experience, so not all the points below might apply to your unique situation.
Read through to find novel ideas and new ways to double down on your existing system.
Embrace the omnichannel mindset for a better customer experience
One of the key principles of customer relations is meeting customers where they are and making it super easy for them to communicate with you. Embracing an omnichannel mindset lets you do this effectively.
However, keep in mind that there’s a difference between being multi-channeled and using an omnichannel approach. The former just means you have more than one channel for customer interactions, but those channels aren’t synchronized. In other words, prospects and customers will need to move between different channels to find specific information.
The omnichannel approach synchronizes your data and makes all necessary content available across all platforms. It also maintains brand consistency so the customer experience is seamless.
Visualize the customer experience with journey mapping
Journey maps are visual representations of the different steps customers go through when interacting with you. The key to using journey maps to optimize CX is pegging a detailed map against critical customer experience metrics.
Here’s why this is powerful: imagine one element in your journey map is the activation of a specific feature that’s critical to the user’s JTBD. By tracking engagement for this feature, you can know how many customers are adopting it. You’ll also easily spot and address friction points.
Understand your audience and create user personas
Knowing your customers’ needs, desires, motivations, and demographics arms you to tailor experiences in ways that resonate with them.
A user persona helps you gather this data systemically. Create personas with information on the aforementioned list and also add other details that you consider necessary. Ideally, you should have one persona per target audience group/use case.
Here’s an example we created at Userpilot.
One way to obtain the customer data needed for creating personas could be by including microsurveys in welcome flows.
Here’s one that Postfity created with Userpilot.
Personalize product experiences and communication based on user needs
Since the average SaaS product has multiple user personas, providing generic experiences can easily translate to negative CX for all users.
Do this instead: treat each person as an individual and tailor in-app experiences to fit their needs. In many cases, this means offering different tips and guides based on features the user needs to use the most to get their job done.
Of course, it’s difficult to do this manually. The best approach is to segment your users based on product usage, in-app behavior, or survey responses. That way, you can be sure to only provide prompts that are contextual and relevant.
Use a checklist for a frictionless first-time customer experience
The worst thing any SaaS company can do is provide a subpar first-time experience. Users will assume that’s how the rest of the product is, and many of them will lag or churn.
Using checklists to onboard and guide new users through your product enhances their experience. That’s because friction is removed as customers no longer have to guess the next steps.
Most checklists also have progress bars that let customers know how many steps are left in the onboarding process—adding that the UI element psychologically prepares customers and reduces anxiety.
Improve customer experience with UI feedback
The user interface feedback is how your product is designed to respond to user actions. You can maximize it to guide users and reduce friction as they take important steps in your product.
Consider the image below. Incorporating feedback errors in the signup form lets customers know where they may be filling in some information wrong. That way they can easily make corrections, and it increases conversion more than when you leave them to figure things out on their own.
Track and improve customer experience metrics at different touchpoints
From the discussion so far, customer experience may appear like something very hard to quantify. There’s no single universal measure for a good customer experience because every business is different. But there are several metrics that, when combined together, can give you an idea of the overall customer experience.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): Measures how much effort customers have to exert when interacting with your brand. CES surveys are typically sent after interactions with the support team or when a customer hits an important milestone like paying to renew their subscription. The survey questions usually go like “How easy was using ABC software today?” or “On a scale of 1-7, how easy was it to interact with our customer service team?”
- Net Promoter Score® (NPS): Involves asking customers on a scale of 0-10 how likely they are to recommend you. High NPS scores indicate customers are happy with their experience on your app.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): Measures customer satisfaction with your product or service. CSAT is tracked on 7 or 5-point scales, with the least number representing “very dissatisfied” and the highest number “very satisfied.” It’s also measured with emoticons as in the Calendly example below:
- Time To Resolution (TTR): This customer service metric measures the time between when a customer opens a support ticket and when it’s resolved. TTR is measured in hours or days and customers expect as short TTR as possible, so it’s best to optimize for that.
Deliver outstanding customer service with a self-serve resource center
A self-serve resource center reduces your worry about TTR and is exactly what modern customers need. Having been exposed to a fast-paced culture, no one wants to wait in line or have to exchange multiple emails to get issues resolved.
You can use product adoption platforms like Userpilot to create an on-demand resource center without coding. Include different content formats to make your center rich and engaging—videos, case studies, knowledge base articles, etc.
Incorporate visual elements into your product experiences to make them more engaging
Visual content helps to explain concepts more quickly than texts. They’re also generally more engaging.
Common visual elements used by SaaS companies include photos, animation, and videos.
Here’s an example from Loom: the company uses short instructional videos to onboard new users and help them familiarize themselves with the tool faster. Customers can also revisit the videos when confused later in their journey.
Focus on providing a positive customer experience even on unhappy paths
No design is perfect. Your product will sometimes flop (hopefully not often), but how you handle it can determine if customers get infuriated or just let it slide.
Asana is a textbook example. They have a funny error message that humanizes their product and offers immediate help to customers while they look into fixing the problem.
Here’s what it looks like:
Recommending that customers copy their texts before reloading also gives the company brownie points—the customer will think, “hey, they care about my work.”
Improve customer experience based on customer feedback
Listening to customers does two things:
- Shows them you care
- Unlocks insights that you couldn’t have gathered otherwise
You can collect customer feedback by implementing Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs, user interviews, in-app surveys, and the like.
Don’t just be after quantitative data. Also gather qualitative responses to have better context into what customers are saying. Double down on what they’re praising you for and make plans to work on improvement areas.
Use UX analytics to identify friction points across the customer journey and eliminate them
UX analytics tracks and measures in-app customer behavior to identify what users are feeling at every stage of their journey.
For example, implementing click tracking lets you know when rage clicks happen—which suggests the presence of bugs. Heatmaps show how a customer journeys through your app or website, and so on.
Conduct user experience analytics by setting goals and creating custom events to understand how users progress through your platform. That way, you can identify drop-off points or areas that customers are avoiding. The next step is to probe further and solve the issue with contextual guides or a more simplified UI.
Improve customer experience by implementing customer loyalty programs
Loyalty programs motivate customers to take important actions on your app, such as renewing their subscriptions or referring others. The extra reward for performing those actions tends to significantly improve the customer experience.
The key to getting loyalty programs right is understanding your business and customers. Some types of loyalty programs you might want to consider:
- Point-based loyalty programs: Rewarding customers with loyalty points that can be exchanged for money or something valuable on your app.
- Referral programs: Rewarding customers referring their friends and colleagues to your app.
- Mission-driven loyalty programs: Have a compelling mission and invite customers to support you. Ideally, this mission should be something a large number of people deeply care about, e.g, poverty alleviation, and climate change.
Add human touch to customer interactions
Automations help you scale and serve customers better, but too much of it can have counter effects.
Once in a while, it’s necessary to humanize your customer interactions. Let someone from the support or customer success team hold live webinars where customers can interact face to face. This will build trust and also make the customer feel valued.
Celebrate important milestones and make your customers feel appreciated
No matter how you see it, we’re all emotional beings and it’s hard to forget deeply emotional experiences—good or bad. We’ll even repeat actions that brought positive experiences just to feel them again.
That’s the psychology behind celebrating customer milestones. Your users will feel excited like toddlers learning to take baby steps and will be motivated to continue using your app.
Use gamification elements such as badges, certificates, characters, etc, to make customers happy.
Do you recognize these elements from the language learning app Duolingo?
Go the extra mile and exceed customer expectations
This is still about making customers feel good, but with a different angle to it.
Imagine this scenario: You’re chatting with a support agent. The conversation is going smoothly, so you decide to throw in a joke and ask that they deliver a souvenir to celebrate you for being an awesome customer.
How would you feel if the company actually surprised you with what you asked?
Great. That’s how this customer felt:
Of course, there’s no rule book for it. Going the extra mile can mean different things to different people.
Just listen to your customers and be creative with surpassing their expectations.
Take social proof seriously to enhance customer experience
Adding social proof at different points in the customer journey will boost their confidence in your app’s ability to solve problems.
It’s simple logic. Social proof makes customers think, “If that guy could achieve X results by using this app, it means I can do something similar.”
Your social proof can come in many formats: case studies, star ratings, customer reviews, influencer endorsements, etc.
Tip: Gather social proof by encouraging loyal customers to leave reviews on your website, social media pages, or third-party sites.
Constantly A/B test product experiences and find what resonates with users
Great customer experiences are born out of tireless experiments and iterations. You’ll never know what truly resonates with customers until you create something and analyze how they respond to it.
That’s why A/B testing is important. Create different flows and test them with various user segments. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the final result.
Drive additional value with relevant upsells and cross-sells
Account expansion isn’t selfish when done right. Instead, it’s a good way to help users discover premium features and experience more value.
Just don’t be oversalesly. Your upgrade prompts should feel natural—delivered contextually at the point customers need them.
Here’s a contextual upsell example from Loom: only when the user reaches the free usage limit, they are prompted to upgrade.
Make customer experiences memorable even when users churn
A positive exit experience will make customers remember you even after switching to competitors. But making it stressful completely closes the door to further collaborations.
You can try to win customers back by asking what went wrong and offering alternatives, however, don’t make it difficult to cancel. Even if you lose them, the data they provide will be useful in preventing similar customers from churning.
This article has shown you 20 ways to improve customer experience for your SaaS. As you leave, keep in mind that the best gift you can give customers is a fantastic product and UX.
Userpilot can help improve customer experience by enabling you to easily apply the strategies learned so far. Book a demo to get started!