Article | 2 min read

Customer experience: 5 simple strategies that bring immediate improvement

Experts share the CX strategies that make a real difference.

By Patrick Grieve

Last updated February 23, 2024

A lot of companies react to growth pressures by trimming their customer support budget. This may provide some quick breathing space, but it’s not a prudent long-term solution and likely comes at the expense of customer experience.

After all, it’s cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. And when we polled consumers on which factors inspire the most brand loyalty, 57% cited good customer service, making it second only to price.

Luckily, there are ways to invest in better customer service without blowing the budget. Simple changes and small initiatives can have a huge impact on customer experience.

We asked our own CX experts which of the smallest adjustments make the biggest differences. If you’re wondering how to improve customer experience without committing too much time and money, here are five simple tactics for an effective customer experience strategy that you can start with straight away.

Don’t leave customers in the dark

1. Don’t leave customers in the dark

Give customers a heads-up about how their customer service experience will play out to avoid frustration down the road.

Brian Reuter, Director of Customer Success at Zendesk, says that it’s best to set expectations about the best way to interact and get support from your company:

‘If you send an email to my Support team or my Success team, and I give you an immediate response that says, "We generally get back to you in about four hours," you’re much less likely to become frustrated.’
Brian Reuter, Director of Customer Success at Zendesk

Without any guidance, a customer might expect to hear back straight away and will become more annoyed the longer they have to wait.

As part of your customer strategy, you should send automatic emails establishing clear timelines for a response, and tell callers on hold how many customers are ahead of them.

This isn’t just a good practice for support teams but also for all customer-facing departments.

‘The same goes for customer success or sales,’ says Brian. ‘Just be clear what your expectations are so that you can be on the same page and the customer doesn’t feel like they’re in the dark waiting for you.’

Talk to the people who know your customers

2. Talk to the people who know your customers best

There are a lot of customer service metrics that you can (and should) track and analyse to improve overall customer experience.

But it’s also a good idea to regularly ask your staff for qualitative feedback. After all, they have first-hand knowledge of the most common complaints from customers.

‘Your customer-facing teams are going to have a good feel for what the biggest pain points are for customers. Arrange a stand-up meeting and ask, "What’s the worst part of our customer experience?"’
Dave Dyson, Senior Customer Service Evangelist at Zendesk

The problem might not have an easy solution, but talking to your team can at least help you get a better understanding of what’s really at stake and what needs to be done about it.

‘That conversation can point you in a direction that allows you to then use data to verify and build a case for improvement,’ adds Dave.

Of course, it’s important for you to follow through – either by acting on your agents’ advice or letting them know why you’re not able to implement changes at the moment. Update your team about what you’re doing with their insights. Otherwise, they’ll think you’re not really interested in what they have to say about customer experience optimisation.

Next issue avoidance

3. Embrace a ‘next issue avoidance’ strategy

Want a simple way to save your customers and agents a bit of time? Reduce the number of necessary follow-ups with the ‘next issue avoidance’ (NIA) strategy – a good tactic for predicting and addressing likely customer problems.

At Zendesk, our NIA system involves proactively sending customers additional articles about topics related to their original problem.

‘We say, "A lot of people who experienced X have always experienced Y and Z, so here’s some information just in case that happens to you in the future."’
Holly VandeWalle-Gore, Director of Training and Quality Assurance at Zendesk Global Customer Advocacy

A good NIA strategy shows customers that you’re really engaged in getting them all the help they need to provide a great customer experience.

Prioritise

4. Get your priorities straight

One small change that’s had a big impact at Zendesk? Switching from a ‘first come, first served’ support process to one that prioritises complex issues over simple ones.

Holly compares it to self-service checkout queues at the supermarket. If you’re only buying some cereal, you don’t want to get stuck waiting behind the customer with vodka and limes, who needs a member of staff to come over to weigh her produce and check her ID.

‘That’s how a lot of our tickets used to be – we had a lot of people with relatively simple issues waiting behind somebody who had a much more difficult and challenging problem,’ says Holly.

So instead, Zendesk now prioritises support issues via our most popular customer-communication channel: live chat.

‘We’ve opened up chat to anybody who wants to use it, instead of charging more for it, and we’re now getting to a point where we’ve started differentiating the type of problem,’ explains Holly.

Zendesk now has a system in place for determining what tier of support is required for each ticket.

‘If a ticket meets one of five criteria, then it will go directly to a chat person. But if it’s beyond these five things, the chat person will have a stopping point when they say, "OK, this actually requires another level of support."’
Holly VandeWalle-Gore, Director of Training and Quality Assurance at Zendesk Global Customer Advocacy

The system guarantees that every customer receives an initial response at the same speed. But the customers who have more complex problems are then routed to a second layer of support.

Ccustomer feedback shows that they generally don’t like being transferred or having multiple touch-points.

‘We want to make sure you get the right level of expertise, and we want to make sure that you get the right person,’ is how Holly frames it. ‘It’s important to prepare the customers for the experience and let them know that this is not a penalty.’

Don’t take customers' loyalty for granted

5. Don’t take customers’ loyalty for granted

If you’re serious about retention, it pays to find simple ways to recognise and reward customers for their brand loyalty.

This can be anything from a financial incentive to just a simple thank-you.

‘You can say, "Thank you so much for shopping with us for five years," or, "I see that this is your 30th order with us,"’ says Holly.

If a customer’s support issue is especially time consuming or frustrating, just sorting it out for them may not be enough. A free gift card or a discount on their next purchase may be what they need to forget the ordeal.

Companies often invite their best customers to a ‘preview night’ for new product launches so that they can be among the first to find out what’s new. You can also invite your most loyal customers to trial a new offer before it goes to market. They’ll appreciate the exclusive opportunity and their feedback may include some legitimately valuable customer insights.

One more way to improve customer experience

There are plenty of simple, straightforward things that you can do to improve a customer’s experience and improve your customer relationships.However, if you’re still looking for the one thing that will make all the difference, you may want to look into a comprehensive software solution that helps manage every aspect of the customer experience.

Zendesk Support is a simple and streamlined solution for tracking, prioritising and solving your company’s customer support tickets. Businesses that use the Zendesk Explore add-on to measure and improve their CX solve 3.4 times as many tickets as companies that don’t – and their customers spend 53% less time waiting for agents to respond.

Want a really easy way to improve customer experience immediately? Sign up for a free trial today.

Simple solutions to the top CX challenges of 2020

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Simple solutions to the top CX challenges of 2020

Dive more deeply into delivering excellent customer experience

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