How to Improve Customer Experience

June 14, 2023 in Mystery Shopping

How to Improve Customer Experience

How to improve customer service

Today, over two thirds of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience (CX), according to Gartner. 

CX is crucial for businesses that want to continue to be competitive. It can be the difference between a company with a strong base of brand advocates, and one that constantly loses business to customer churn.

But what is customer experience? Is it just customer service? And how can you set about improving it, especially if you don’t know where you’re going wrong in the first place?

In this blog, we detail how you can use customer experience to boost retention, staff engagement and satisfaction, sales revenue, and most importantly: grow your business.

Man examining clothes on a rack

What Is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience (CX) is the view that customers have of their entire experience with your brand or business. That means every single contact a customer has with your brand and its products or services.

The cumulative effect of these interactions will create a customer’s perception, and determine if they will continue to do business with you.

Customer handing bank card to a sales assistant

Why Is Customer Experience Important?

Great customer experience can greatly benefit a business’ bottom line:

  • Customers are happier to spend more when they are given a great experience.
  • Happy customers are more likely to return, and loyal customers spend 60% more per transaction than first time buyers, on average.
  • A satisfied customer is more likely to become a brand advocate as 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people.
  • Overall, it has been estimated that investing in CX can double your revenue.

By contrast, neglecting customer experience can be devastating:

  • One in three customers will leave a business they love after just one bad experience, and 92% would do so after two or three.
  • Customer churn is estimated to account for $1.6 Trillion in lost business in the USA each year.
  • While a happy customer is likely to tell friends and family about their experience, unhappy customers are likely to warn people away from your business. 13% of unhappy customers would even go as far as to tell 15 or more people that they had a bad experience. Compare that to the 6 that would be told about a good experience. Humans love to complain, and the fallout from poor customer experience can be both far-reaching and devastating for your brand.

A company that provides a poor customer experience doesn’t just risk losing their current customers. They can stop prospective customers from ever considering doing business with them.

Woman browsing on laptop at home

How to Improve Customer Experience

The first step toward making improvements is understanding the status quo. Adjusting your strategy is wasted effort if you don’t know how your customers feel about your current approach. Plotting a route is pointless if you don’t know your start point. According to Bain & Company, 80% of brands believe they are delivering an excellent customer experience. Sadly, only 8% of customers believe they are receiving a great experience.

This disconnect between what companies believe they provide and what customers receive is huge. It’s impossible to see the experience that you provide when looking from the inside. Instead you need to take a look at your CX from the perspective of the customer. There are many tools you can employ to place you in your customers’ shoes:

Customer Journey Mapping 

By plotting the possible journey of a customer with your business, from first learning about it, to buying a product, and finally telling others about the company or offering, you can work out the steps they will likely take. Once you have this plotted, you can commission mystery shoppers to take each of the points in the customer journey from start to finish, and report on their experiences. This will include each point of interaction they had with your business, and the good and bad events that occurred. This is an extremely effective way to view your customer experience through the eyes of a buyer, and pick up – in greater detail – the areas that can be improved upon.

This step is crucial, as it demands that you identify every single customer-facing touchpoint that a buyer may take, and the ecosystem around it. Understanding this allows you to make the changes you need to tailor your customers’ experience to match their expectations of your brand.

Customer surveys

Provide your customers with questionnaires they can use to give feedback on their experience with your company. Reading your customers’ experiences in their own words provides great insights into the areas in which your business is failing to provide a good experience. This is especially true for areas which are mentioned by multiple customers.

However, it is worth noting two things: first, that survey responses don’t give an accurate or concise picture of the experience given to all customers. Those who receive notably good or notably bad experiences are more likely to respond than those whose experience was just OK. Second, it is just as important to gauge the experience of those customers that did not make a purchase after taking the time and trouble to visit your physical or digital venue – if not more so.

NPS (Net Promoter Score)

Give your customers a single question. Something like, “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your experience with our business today?” Scores of 1-6 will be considered “detractors”, 7 & 8 will be “passives”, and scores of 9 or 10 are “promoters”. To calculate your NPS, simply count up the percentage that are detractors, and subtract them from the percentage that are promoters (passives can be ignored). Scores above 0 are good, above 20 are great, and above 50 are excellent. However, NPS alone will not reveal what areas of your CX are lacking. As a result, it is not very helpful for informing decisions on changes in strategy with the aim of improving customer loyalty or experience.


One of the most common examples of customer feedback, complaints can be a goldmine for ways in which your business can improve its CX. Complaints are qualitative by nature. A complaint will detail the elements of the experience that the customer found lacking. Plus, like surveys above, if multiple complaints mention the same pain points, that’s a red flag that something needs to be changed.

However, no news is not always good news. Just because an area of your business is not mentioned as a negative, does not mean it is a positive, or has no room for improvement.

Mystery Shopping

Utilizing mystery shoppers and Customer Experience Agencies to audit and assess KPIs vital to your CX strategy is a great way to measure the discrepancy between your planned CX, and the CX your customers receive. Mystery shops can also be used to examine the customer experience your industry rivals provide. The information produced by these audits can be used to compare and contrast the experience they provide with your own. This can give you inspiration for ways to improve your own CX, or to refine certain points to create positive comparisons between your brand and theirs.

However, all these tools and techniques are wasted if you have no means in place to effent changes.

Team Meeting

Adjust Your Strategy

Making sure you have systems in place to respond quickly and positively to customer feedback is crucial. This can include sharing the information and feedback you receive, so each element of your business can correct the failings it has direct control over.

Sharing this feedback can also drive home the point that no department is an island, and that they should all be working towards the same goal. By encouraging communication between departments you can promote collaboration and work to iron out misaligned goals that can cause so many problems for customers.

At the same time, discussing strategy by establishing objectives, targets and KPIs so everyone has their personal performance metrics, creates the need for departments to work together effectively. This makes it less likely that they will drift apart over time as sectional objectives get prioritized over the measured and monitored overall strategy of the company.

By holding regular meetings with the heads of departments, goals for the next period can be set. Oversight from other departments can make sure that no potential conflicts will arise from any one section’s objectives.

It can be hard to predict the impact that adjusting strategy will have on the experience you provide. This is made even more difficult without a clear view of where you stand. As such, one of the most important steps you can take is to make it easy for customers to complain. As we have explained, complaints give a glimpse into the areas of your customer experience strategy in which you are falling short. The more feedback of this nature you receive, the clearer your understanding of where you could stand to improve will become.

Similarly, listening to the suggestions of your frontline staff can be a great source of ideas for changes to make. As the section of your workforce that is in most frequent contact with your customers, frontline employees will have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to ways in which customer experience could be improved.

Team meeting and shaking hands

Refocus Your Culture

One of the most important influences on your business’s customer experience is your internal culture. If your employees’ focus is merely on clocking in, going through the motions and going home again, the experience they provide will never rise above average. At the same time, employees can’t be ordered to care. If there is no reason for them to offer great customer service, then – understandably – few of them will expend any extra effort to provide it.

Instead, creating a culture of placing employees and customers first will demand that – initially – you make the needs and wants of your staff a paramount consideration. An employee that feels they have no incentive for their work other than their paycheck will have no reason to apply any extra effort.

Measuring employee engagement is an ongoing process, and it’s crucial that you act on your findings. Constantly gauging engagement levels, analyzing performance and creating strategies to improve them can create a strong work environment that boosts staff happiness and output.

If a worker feels that both they and their work are valued by their superiors, and the business as a whole, they are more likely to attempt to work toward the goals that have been set. At the same time, by making them aware that everyone’s performance should align with the strategy and goals that have been set, and that this is monitored, you can help them understand that they will drive conversions by focusing on serving the customer.

Performance metrics such as productivity, and – conversely – absenteeism and staff turnover can indicate the level of engagement. Engaged workers tend to be more productive, have fewer absences, and are less likely to leave. Over the long term these metrics can give an insight into frontline staff engagement.

What makes an employee feel valued will of course differ from person to person, but some ideas include

    • Providing more options for flexible working. This won’t apply as much to in-person customer service as all other areas, but giving staff more control over their schedules has a huge impact on their mental health and work-life balance.
    • Stimulating friendly competition with things like customer service leaderboards, or making staff vie for a weekly, monthly or quarterly reward for receiving the most positive feedback.
    • Sharing examples of great customer service provided by your team members can be a great way to both make note of excellent work, and inspire others to reach the same or greater heights.
    • Check-ins and wellbeing programs to make sure your employees’ mental health is good, and that those who are struggling get the support they need.
    • Recognizing and rewarding employees (e.g. compensation and bonuses for good customer service, awards for long service, extra time off, team performance awards, and so on). An employee that feels valued will, in turn, be more likely to make customers feel valued. By making your employees’ lives easier, you free up more mental capacity, and help them to go above and beyond for your customers, without it being too taxing or draining.
Customer waving to shop assistant

Increase Personalization

According to Grow, more than 70% of customers feel frustrated when the experience they receive is impersonal. Choosing to treat customers as just a number, or the money they spend, is both vexing for the customer and a wasted opportunity. Personalization grabs attention, and makes a customer feel as though they are truly seen as a human being.

In one-to-one interactions, this may mean brief handovers when passing a customer from one staff member to another, so they don’t need to start from scratch with their inquiry. Likewise, with an omnichannel setup, keeping a record of customer interactions that can be accessed by all departments, can greatly reduce frustration for a customer. It will mean that they won’t be asked the same questions, or be subjected to the same offers on multiple channels.

Taking this a step further, exceeding customer expectations can be an excellent way to improve CX, and maybe even create a brand advocate at the same time. By recording customer relationships and interactions, you can keep a track of their previous purchases and history with your brand. This enables you to surprise them when they reach certain milestones (number of purchases, amount spent, etc.). In addition, if customers share their personal information with you, like date of birth, you can give them offers or gifts to coincide with important events. These gestures are likely to be talking points they will bring up with friends and family, either in person or on social media. As a result, this will raise awareness of your services, and ensure positive mentions of your brand.

Worker in a coffee shop

Final Thoughts

As you might expect, this blog is only scratching the surface of the changes you can make to your brand to improve the experience you give your customers. There are so many factors that make up your CX, and improving it is just as complex. 

If we had to pin down one starting point for any brand that wanted to make improvements, it would always be to examine the experience you currently provide, from the perspective of the customer.

At Service Evaluation Concepts, we have helped businesses from mom and pop stores to enormous multinational corporations to inspect what they expect, and gain a clear picture of their customer experience as it stands.

If you are interested in getting a clearer picture of your customer experience, and how you can improve it, complete the form below

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