CX Fitness: Conducting a Customer Experience Analysis
Illustration by Matt Plays

Welcome to Customer Experience Fitness, or, as our friends call us, CX Fitness. This is a judgement-free zone. We welcome you to the family. We’re not here to impress others. This isn’t the gym for the “experts.” We’re here for real people, and I bet that’s why you’re here, too.

We’re here to help everyone — especially founders and company leaders who are just starting to care about customer experience — to get CX fit. Here, you’ll learn how you can go about analyzing your current customer experience and begin moving on what you want to do about it.

Others may take the easy route and make things look good on the outside, but you’re ready to put in the real CX work. Soon, you’ll be the envy of your peers — not just because of your appearance, but because you are truly CX healthy on the inside.

Ironically, I understand that gyms aren’t recognized as strong customer experience leaders — especially during the leaving process. Fear not; this gym will be your experience nirvana. Come on inside and learn how you can get started on conducting a customer experience analysis.

How to conduct a customer experience analysis

Our program covers four assessment questions and one call to action. If you’re ready to truly conduct a customer experience analysis, let’s get going.

Question 1: Who is your customer?

When you start with most gyms, the first question they ask is “What are your fitness goals?” It's a great place to start because what motivates one client isn’t what drives another.

It's the same with your company. Don’t assume that the definition of “customer” you hear about from other companies in your industry, in your location, or in any other factor fits who your customer is.

Now, a fancier way of saying this is to identify the customer personas for your company. I find value in this, but since you are just getting started, I want you to simply ask yourself “Who is my customer?” and go from there.

Consider two main approaches to answering this question: numbers and story (or quantitative and qualitative, but at this gym, we want to use the simplest phrases possible).

First, what do your numbers (metrics) tell you?

  • Who is buying your product and service?

  • Where do they live?

  • How much do they spend?

  • When do they spend it?

  • Do they spend once and leave you or do they spend repeatedly?

I can’t possibly tell you every number you should use to measure your business. Instead, I want you to take a look at every customer-oriented measure to build a picture of who your customers are.

Second, observe and brainstorm. If you have a physical presence, go there. Watch your customers. Talk to them. Get to know who they are. Ask them what motivated them to interact with your company.

If you have multiple locations, observe as wide a spectrum of locations as you possibly can. I have seen too many companies focus on the locations closest to their offices to the detriment of the other locations. Your customers are diverse; make sure you get input that absorbs and understands that diversity.

This gets much trickier when you do not operate in a physical environment, but it’s certainly not impossible. Observe your customers in the digital channels in which they engage with you:

  • Who are they on social media, both in their interactions with your company and outside of those interactions?

  • What motivates them?

  • What inspires or enrages them?

Do everything you can to humanize your customers. While there are many of them, they are a collection of individuals. Visualize and create stories about them in your mind. Brainstorm with your team ways to mentally understand your customers as human individuals, not just facts on a spreadsheet.

Similar to hiring a trainer at the gym, there are a wealth of firms ready to help you understand your customers. This can help you focus, create discipline in your approach, and provide new methods for building out who your customers are. This is also where you can get great support building the customer personas I mentioned earlier.

However, just like at a gym, you can achieve your goals on your own, especially if you’re just getting started. Keep this option in mind as your company continues to mature in its customer experience assessment needs.

Question 2: How do they talk to you today?

As we continue to walk around the gym for your orientation, I want to show you the floor exercise room for yoga, cycle, and boot camp. Now check out the cardio section and keep your eyes open for the free weight area as well. I’ll let you check out the locker room and meet you at the pool on the other side.

Your customer has similar options for working with your company and, specifically, talking with you. It’s important that you inventory where your customer “talks” to you (i.e., your “customer listening posts”). Sit down and make a tangible list of every interaction point where your customers express themselves to you:

  • Social media

  • Surveys

  • Review sites

  • Contact centers (chat, phone, email)

  • Inside of your app

The point is to get an understanding of where you are listening to your customers today. Again, no judgement here. CX Fitness has been around for a while so there’s plenty for the customers here, but you may just be getting started. That’s OK, but your assessment must include a full listing of where your customers are talking to you.

To amplify your CX Fitness, spend time after determining your listening posts to do two things:

  1. Assess how well you listen to each post. Does it exist but you aren’t listening? Do you respond?

  2. Identify the listening posts you don’t have. Much like the wisdom of working both on your abs and your lower back at the same time to build up your overall core, use this moment to list possible listening posts that aren’t in your company today.

Question 3: What does your customer think about you today?

At our gym, we’re going to be honest. After we finish orientation, we’ll tell you where you need to focus. Is this about improving your cardio? Do you need to hit the weights to get a better overall health profile? You know they say that “Abs aren’t made in the gym; they’re made in the kitchen.” It might be time to talk nutrition.

The gym staff will tell you how you’re doing there, and your customers will tell you how you’re doing with their experiences.

You know who your customer is. You know how and where they talk to you today. What are they saying? The bulk of understanding your current experience should come from your customer. Don’t assume; let your customer tell you.

Using the listening posts you listed in the prior step, collect customer input. Begin to determine what the key themes are. Use customer-oriented metrics (from above) to see how you are doing and whether it’s different for different areas, times, products, or any other category that makes sense to your customer.

Don’t forget your front line here. It is (or should be) one of your listening posts, so make sure to collect this input. You’ll gain insights by hearing your front line’s take on the customer’s input, even if you’re not hearing the direct words from the customer through this listening post.

Once collected, spend time discerning the key themes that come out of the customer input. Look for trends. Many companies fall into the trap of the loudest or the most emotional customer reaction (good or bad) getting the attention. Or perhaps it’s the executive’s pet project that gets the attention.

Instead of that type of inside-out approach, let your customers give you the outside-in look at the way your company delivers experiences.

Work to weave your themes together and understand which are the ones driving the most influence on your customer’s experiences. This exercise will help you prioritize what to do next.

Question 4: What is life like for your customers as they interact with your company?

You’re going to be sore. That’s what happens when you start to work out. We want you to know what your journey will be like here: You’ll be sore at first, but keep coming back. It’s important for you to get that second workout in to help flush out the pain. It will get better.

Do you know what it’s like for your customer to “work out” with you? What is life like for them when they interact with your company? I want you to understand what they experience — or what their journey is (i.e., customer journey mapping) — but don’t get scared off by phrases like that.

Just like a gym should say “increasing reps with weights” instead of “progression models in resistance training,” I don’t want you to worry about journey mapping.

Instead, consider what your customers think, feel, and do at every step of interacting with your company. That helps you understand their journey: what life is like for them when they interact with your company.

At CX Fitness, we want you to leave. Get your outdoor fitness on. Don’t just imagine what the customer experiences — live it. It doesn’t have to be “Undercover CEO” style, but it can be. Interact with your company in the same way your customers do:

  • Shop your own services and product.

  • Call your call center and try to navigate your IVR and survive your hold music.

  • Use a VPN and an incognito browser and visit your website.

  • Buy something and have it delivered.

  • Fill out one of your surveys to see what happens.

Live your customer’s life to know how they experience your company.

Now what?

With the answers to these four questions, you’ll have a great baseline for understanding your customers’ experiences. Sure, there are many other elements that can go into a customer experience analysis, but at CX Fitness, we want you to begin here.

Once you get started and those CX analysis endorphins are flowing, you’ll start to put the customer at the center of all you do and continue to hone how you look at your delivery of experience.

But for now? Act. Do something about what you’ve learned. If your customers love a particular part of your experience, amplify it. If it’s clear you’re falling short, fix it. Prioritize solutions to what you’ve learned and do them.

A fitness program is worthless if it’s a mental study on what should be done. A successful fitness program requires you to determine what will be done … and then to do it! The same is true of your CX Fitness program.

Welcome to CX Fitness. With these tips, you’ll get started with your CX Fitness program and start creating great experiences for every customer, every time!

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