What is customer experience (CX)?

Glossary What is customer experience (CX)?

Customer experience, often referred to as CX, is an understanding of the interactions a customer has with a business, and the emotions these elicit, across every stage of their customer journey. This journey can be online (e.g. via a business’s website or app - sometimes known as “digital customer experience”) or offline (e.g. a visit to a bricks and mortar store), or a mixture of both. Critically, mapping and understanding customer experience involves appreciating how the customer has interacted with the business at each stage, and how this interaction has made them feel.

In the example below, the customer journey follows a customer from initial brand awareness via social media and email marketing to their post-purchase experience. At each stage, we can see the touchpoints involved and the customer’s general perception of the brand. Businesses focusing on improving customer experience can gain a lot from identifying areas where perception is negative, and directing resources there. Producing a visual representation like the example below is referred to as “customer experience journey mapping”.

An example of a customer experience journey, focusing on online retail.

Because customer experience is based on emotional reactions, it can be make or break for a brand. We’ve all had a frustrating experience with a business (for example, poor service at a restaurant) and understand how much time and effort it can take to repair a negative perception, so it makes sense for a business to try to mitigate potentially problematic touchpoints as much as possible. When a business is in a competitive market, one slightly negative experience can be enough to drive business to a competitor.

Customer experience for mobile apps

In the context of mobile app marketing, customer experience refers specifically to the ways in which your marketing activities impact your app’s users and potential users. Again, brand perception and emotional response are extremely important. For example, you run a retargeting campaign that results in an advertisement being displayed to a lapsed user, whose positive previous experience of your brand is the reason they decide to click the ad and return to your app.

How can customer experience be measured?

“Customer experience management” is the process of developing customer journey maps (like the one pictured above) that represent all of the interactions between a customer and a business. Data and insights to inform these journey maps can be gathered in a variety of ways:

  • Sending surveys to customers
  • Analyzing customer metrics such as return spending and helpdesk tickets
  • Setting up customer forums
  • Getting feedback from customer-facing staff

Sometimes, businesses will choose to use imagined “customer personas” to create these maps, instead of basing them on the behavior of real customers. Either way, they must be an unbiased and empathetic representation of a customer’s journey from start to finish.

Where large volumes of customer experience data are collected, businesses may choose to use analytics programs to interpret and visualize it. Programs like these provide what is known as “customer experience analytics”. Customer experience analytics tools fall into the wider category of “customer experience platforms”, a term used to describe any software that can be used to gather customer feedback or execute customer experience improvements.

Far from being a nice-to-have, customer experience management has a direct impact on a business’s bottom line. Positive customer experiences encourage brand loyalty and repeat spending, whereas negative experiences can result in financial losses thanks to potential or existing customers spending elsewhere.

How can customer experience be improved?

Having mapped a number of customer journeys and identified recurring pain points, specific fixes can be implemented. Perhaps there is an issue around help center response rates, in which case resourcing changes or self-service help content can be beneficial. Perhaps customers don’t feel valued or seen by a brand, in which case targeted messaging or personalization might be a worthwhile investment.

Whatever the improvement needs, it’s important that the business acts upon the customer experience data available and focuses on the actionable changes that address their business-specific challenges. By doing so, proactive improvements are made that will smooth out any creases and benefit brand perception amongst future customers.

Do the same rules apply when it comes to apps?

When it comes to all things apps and mobile marketing, in general the rules of thumb we’ve covered still apply. Customer journeys can still be mapped, the maps can be used to identify pain points, and mitigating those pain points will result in happier and more loyal app users.

With apps, it’s even more crucial to retain a satisfied user base. As we know, attention spans are getting shorter, numerous apps are competing for a user’s time, and a competitor app is always only a couple of taps away. Mapping, measuring, and optimizing customer experience results in improved retention rates, user stickiness, ATT opt-in rates, and more.

Various strategies can be effective when it comes to retaining app users. Customer experience should be a consideration from the very start of a user’s journey, i.e. when the user has downloaded the app and is going through a sign-up/onboarding process. In the example below, the Blinkist onboarding process sets user expectations and engages new users effectively from the beginning.

Screenshots of the Blinkist app, an example of setting user expectations during app onboarding.

In addition to effective onboarding, mobile marketers should consider focusing on areas such as app store optimization, push notification strategies, gamification, and A/B testing, to name a few. Methods to keep existing users engaged (rather than only targeting new users) are paramount.

Adjust guide: how to successfully keep users and grow your app.

Read our user retention guide to discover more strategies to improve customer experience. To learn more about how Adjust empowers mobile marketers, take a look at our Datascape analytics solution, or request a demo.

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