Last updated on July 26, 2023
Civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said that people will forget what you said or did but will always remember how you made them feel. This is especially true when it comes to serving your customers. Customer service in the 21st century is not just the prerogative of one specific department but of every business process, role, and philosophy.
This article looks at how customer service can be optimized for better results.
When shopping, have you ever encountered a salesman who was rude or unhelpful? Or used a service and had an issue with the customer support staff? Did it make you rethink your decision to patronize that particular store or service?
A customer’s experience (CX) is an essential part of every transaction and can affect brand loyalty and sales. Not to be melodramatic, but reports say that if your CX isn’t up to par, you could be sounding the death knell for your business.
So what can be done?
A customer experience audit evaluates the customer’s experience while engaging with a business or a brand. This audit examines all customer interactions with your brand from first contact, including phone support, email support, live chat options, and so on.
It helps provide an objective look at the problems of a business’s customer service and enables teams to focus on what needs fixing. These audits are often conducted by third-party firms or agencies specializing in the field. However, if you don’t have the budget for this type of research, you can also run your own audit using a checklist and some simple tools.
Most consumers consider the customer experience crucial when purchasing, but only half of them feel that organizations are doing a good job. To close this gap, start with a customer experience audit checklist.
There’s an old saying that goes “you can tell a lot about a company by how they treat their customers.” It sounds like sage advice, right? After all, happy customers are not only loyal but will become valuable ambassadors for your brand. That’s why having a customer experience audit checklist is so important. Yet, many businesses neglect to make one despite its many benefits – more engaged and satisfied customers, direction and focus on areas to improve, and lots of growth opportunities!
So whether you’re just starting out or looking to revamp your existing checklist – let me show you why it might be time to embrace the power of CX audits!
Identifies Gaps For Improvement
A gap is an area where your company falls short. For example, it could be problematic staff, a lack of a return and exchange policy, or slow responses to customer inquiries. Conducting an audit will reveal any weak spots and direct your attention to the most critical problem areas, where you can then come up with workable remedies.
Pinpoints Where Quick Fixes Can Be Made
A customer service audit will typically identify some areas in the customer journey that can be immediately fixed. It could be a typo on a restaurant menu, fonts on signages that are too small or illegible, or even just poor lighting in your store. These changes might appear minuscule but can be quite impactful.
Provides Direction For Training
Sometimes, there’s a delay in answering customer requests or inquiries because your team doesn’t know how to or can’t access the necessary information.
An audit checklist will gather such data and help pinpoint skill gaps that can be closed by retraining existing staff.
Improves Your Marketing
You’ll be able to recognize the factors that influence customer behavior. An audit will also highlight the most effective platforms. Using this data, you can develop platform-specific marketing to better serve your customers.
Before you can create your customer experience audit checklist, you’ll have to properly map out your customer’s journey. It’s a visual representation of how your customer moves through each interaction with your brand and what experiences they have.
Remember that the customer journey is not always linear. Mapping can be difficult because different customer types will interact with your business in various ways. It also entails data gathering and analysis that will guide your decision-making as you craft the necessary solutions.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for crafting your customer experience audit checklist.
A customer journey map is helpful in conducting an audit of the customer experience since it allows you to examine every part of that journey. Follow these steps to start mapping your customers’ journeys:
Create Customer Personas
This is an idealized representation of your customer and investigates the psychological and behavioral elements at play when they engage with your company.
Identify Customer Touch Points
Touchpoints are where your brand and your consumers meet and interact. Any interaction with a customer- whether before, during, or after a sale- should be counted as a potential touchpoint for audit purposes.
Here are a few touchpoints to consider:
Social media. In today’s digital age, your brand’s social media pages are often where customers see or get to know you first
Ads. Both online and offline ads are common first touchpoints at the introduction stage
Conversations. Any time a customer reaches out to your brand, it is a touchpoint as well
Point of sale. A crucial touchpoint as it’s where customers are ready to make a payment
Shipping notifications. For online stores, order confirmations, shipping updates, and thank-you emails can reinforce customer loyalty
Customer support. When customers face an issue with your product or service, their experience with your CS is a critical touchpoint
Try to dissect the customer experience at every touchpoint. This will help you identify what channels they used to interact with your brand and what happened during their encounter. Describe in as much detail as you can the steps that were taken by the user at each point of the journey, and indicate whether or not there were any pain points along the way.
A customer journey map can help you determine where you’re thriving and falling short. The sooner this information is collected, the sooner improvements can be made. At the same time, knowing what your customers are dissatisfied with can help you make the necessary adjustments to your products and services, leading to greater customer satisfaction.
You can start by looking at different customer journey stages and asking the following questions:
This can come in many forms, from a customer signing up for an account on your website or app, to signing up for newsletters or promotions.
How do new customers initially interact with your company? Is it the usual method they use? Or is it through your preferred channels?
How and why do customers move between each touchpoint? Do these transitions naturally happen, or are they imposed on the customer? Are there transitions they didn’t expect or like?
For example, if customer feedback indicates that certain transitions cause confusion or dissatisfaction, then it’s necessary to simplify the transition process or provide more detailed customer education.
Is there something stopping customers from interacting with your company the way they want to? Is there anything that’s holding them back?
End of the journey
How does the customer experience conclude? Are customers satisfied or dissatisfied with it? After the initial stage of consumer interactions, are you taking any actions to re-engage them?
You’ll also need your staff to be part of the customer experience audit to get an unbiased overview of customer pain points. You can engage your employees through a questionnaire, a team meeting, or a special workgroup. Here are some areas to look at:
What complaints do staff commonly hear from customers? Are there any recurring customer complaints?
Do employees ever encounter issues using your company’s resources, tools, and platforms? Which areas do they find most conducive to their work? Where do customers have the most positive experiences?
Areas of Inefficiency
Does anything prevent employees from acting or responding to customers quickly? What structures and processes could have a significant impact?
Do employees have all the information they need to provide consumers with fast, reliable service? Is this information easily accessible to them?
Is there anywhere your staff is having trouble? Do they feel unqualified or under-trained?
Next, you’ll also want to get information from your actual customers. This entails conducting market research. Keep in mind that you should collect both quantitative and qualitative data.
A survey, where customers can rank their satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 5, can be a quick way to get quantitative data. Asking customers a few questions about how they feel about the brand, their experience, and what made them want to purchase – are good options for qualitative data.
Lastly, you’ll want to engage both new and existing customers. By doing so, you can be sure of having a sufficient sample to draw meaningful conclusions.
Once you’ve completed and analyzed the data you’ve gathered, you can compare the perspectives of your employees, customers, and upper management. Consider the following:
Watch for areas where your perspectives coincide or echo one another. If the comments are favorable, it’s best to keep working and seek suggestions for improvement in other areas of the customer experience. If it’s criticism, be ready to make adjustments.
When perspectives don’t match, you need to investigate why. Sometimes managers can get tunnel vision, and their perspectives can differ from employees out on the field. At times, customers may see things differently from your employees. Look at why.
Connect the Dots
Now that you have your data, it’s time to look at it and discover what you can find. Take some time to view the data from different angles and see if there are any patterns or trends that jump out at you. Bring it up for team discussion and see what comes up as hypotheses or ideas.
For instance, you might come up with a theory like, “Long lines at the counter or fitting room scare our customers away.”
Then perhaps you would need to make adjustments to your POS or establish other ways to check out.
After identifying the issues at hand, you can move on to considering potential solutions. Sometimes these can be straightforward, like streamlining the checkout process, but other times it can be challenging. A roadmap can help prioritize which steps should be taken first.
Establish goals for reducing the amount of friction at every touchpoint and set up metrics to measure your performance. Plot down when you will start implementing these solutions.
Your timeline can be short or long, depending on the size of your company. Smaller companies may be able to address issues faster than large organizations with many moving parts.
A customer journey map and customer feedback can provide you with a holistic view of how your customers experience your brand. If you don’t know your target audience, their wants, and their problems, you can’t properly evaluate your performance, diagnose or develop solutions.
It’s only after you’ve gathered feedback and mapped out their encounter with your brand that you can start to look at how your customer service is performing. Many marketers launch initiatives without doing the necessary legwork, significantly reducing their efficacy.
Feedback from your consumers and a customer journey map remove the guesswork and offer you real, actionable data that will help you better understand your customers. It guides you to ask the right questions.
Maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction requires constant attention to detail. A customer experience audit checklist can help you keep track of everything you need to check off to ensure a top-notch customer service experience for every customer, every time. It enables you to see the whole customer experience, from their perspective, in an objective manner.
A customer experience checklist helps you:
Increase awareness of customer needs
Pinpoint gaps in your customer service
Identify areas for improvement
Find out how to increase your CX in practical ways
Boost customer satisfaction
Boost sales and profits by earning customer loyalty
For instance, if one of your stores is receiving a lot of complaints, it might be time to look at what’s happening in-store. Is there something wrong with the display? What about the signage? Or perhaps you need to retrain your staff?
The data you gather in your customer experience audit will reveal patterns and trends in your customer’s experience with your company. This gives your company a better understanding of who your customers are and how they see your brand. Moreover, it will help highlight their experiences and pain points.
With this information in hand, the necessary adjustments can be made with more accuracy and relevance, ultimately leading to happier customers.
Ready to work on your list?! Let’s face it, a customer experience audit checklist is like a treasure map for businesses. It guides us through the journey of discovering the hidden gems of customer satisfaction and helps us avoid the pitfalls of poor service. Just like a treasure hunt, it may take some time and effort, but the payoff is worth it. Imagine the look on your customer’s face when they finally find the treasure, er, we mean the perfect experience they’ve been searching for.
Now, don’t be fooled by the simplicity of a checklist. It’s not as easy as just ticking off boxes. You need to have a thorough knowledge of your customers and your business as a whole. Whether it’s a customer journey map or gathering feedback, you need to be equipped with all the tools necessary to succeed.
In the end, when you finally reach the treasure, er, we mean the ultimate customer satisfaction, you’ll be like a pirate with a chest full of gold, er, we mean a business with a loyal customer base. So, don’t wait any longer, grab your customer experience audit checklist, and set sail on the adventure of a lifetime.
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