September 23, 2021

Overcoming Common CX Challenges

Everything that contributes to your customers’ perceptions and feelings about your brand can be viewed as part of the customer experience (CX). Understanding this, it’s only logical to put the customer front and center of your CX strategy. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common CX challenges businesses face today—and what you can do to overcome them.

Assuming You Know Your Customer

Despite the fact that there is a wealth of customer engagement data companies can leverage to improve their ROI, many marketers still neglect their customers before and after the sale.

The biggest barrier to optimizing the CX experience is typically the lack of having a deep understanding of their target audience in the first place.

When it comes to delivering an exceptional CX, the more you understand your customers, the better you can cater to their wants and expectations. Start by looking at the entire customer journey holistically.

  • What do prospects and consumers care about?
  • What actions are prospects and customers taking in between each interaction with your business?
  • What are the factors contributing to their experience?

Per 3Pillar Global’s Mihnea Jeleriu, however, one of the worst things you can do is assume you understand the customer’s needs. Even worse, once you think you understand them, you assume said understanding would remain static.

Another 3Pillar Global expert, Angel Almada, adds, “We make assumptions, thinking that we know our users. Users evolve and mutate; they are ever-moving targets. That’s why we need to ensure we are meeting them where they are.”

According to McKinsey, this doesn’t mean you can afford to just rely on surveys, analytics, and reports. Analytics on their own are not enough. They tell you the “what,” which is a great starting point, but for any “what,” there are many many “might work” solutions. In other words, organizations need insights based on user data — intentional and carefully crafted boots-on-the-ground customer research is a must-have for any product.

Further, customer research tells you the “why” for your “what.” Having both pieces of information allows your product and development teams to significantly narrow the possible solutions, which, in turn, significantly reduces the amount of customer experience problems, time to market, and overall development costs.

A Strategic Direction That’s Not Customer-Centered

Building on our last point, 3Pillar UX Designer, Dario Espinosa, adds, “One common mistake is that companies don’t ask ‘what,’ ‘how,’ ‘why,’ or ‘when’ questions around a product. They don’t listen or analyze the customer. You’ll see this a lot with strategies driven by the leadership team, rather than the product team, or the folks working the front lines.”

In some cases, organizations are not equipped to adequately capture customer expectations, which could indicate a technology problem. In other cases, they understand customer expectations but don’t capitalize on this knowledge, which might point to a process issue.

Either way, the business is jeopardizing its capacity to better serve its customers. To address this, a clearly defined strategy must be established and executed early on.

Dario recommends that leaders analyze all CX processes and get everyone involved in driving improvements.

The leadership team is key when it comes to championing customer centricity and aligning the strategy with business goals—but great CX is everyone’s responsibility.

Putting your strategy into action requires creating a framework for determining the right tools and information a customer needs access to at every touchpoint in their journey.

Today’s leading digital companies collect and analyze critical customer data and use those insights to deliver more tailored and relevant experiences to ensure they don’t encounter any CX problems.

There’s Unnecessary Friction in the Customer Journey

Customer experience challenges often stem from poor checkout experiences, slow site speed, or an overall confusing UX experience.

Charles Zujkowski expands further, claiming CX issues could also involve “asking for the same information more than once, not retaining personal preferences, or having purchase processes that are too cumbersome or take too long.”

Perhaps it means they’re not being sensitive to the customer’s environment. Are they in a low-bandwidth environment? Are they juggling multiple tasks at once? All of these external factors need to be considered.

Essentially, customer friction occurs whenever something creates hesitation or disrupts the customer journey. These roadblocks dissuade people from going through with transactions and typically result in a negative emotional reaction from the customer.

Common types of customer friction include:

  • Discovery friction. At the discovery stage, consumers want to receive clear, concise, and relevant information about your product or service that can be easily found across channels. Any pain point that prevents them from doing so can lead to unexpected CX challenges. Whether it’s a slow-loading website, inconsistency between channels, disorganized product shelves, or stock shortages, discovery friction can compel your customers to either doubt or rule out your brand entirely.
  • Purchase friction. Long wait times, lengthy forms, inefficient point-of-sale systems, hidden charges, and limited payment options make the path to purchase burdensome for customers during the online and offline checkout process. This creates purchase friction, where customers are confronted with unexpected steps and processes after selecting their desired product or service.
  • Post-purchase friction. The post-purchase experience can be just as critical as the sale itself. Customers expect speedy fulfillment, well-rounded support, and regular status updates from the moment payment is completed. Post-purchase friction occurs when they face difficulties using your product or when trying to return it.

Solutions to these customer experience problems include improving navigation, simplifying the checkout process, and optimizing technical SEO. Additionally, address refining processes and personalizing where it counts most.

Keep in mind—if you’re asking customers for personal information, you need to be upfront about how that data is used and strike the right balance between personalization and privacy.

Your Data Strategy isn’t Working

Finally, it’s important to understand how critical data is to guiding your CX strategy and better serving your customers.

Inadequate or incomplete data means you’re making decisions without knowing the entire story. This can be a result of disconnected or siloed data sources and a lack of accessibility.

It’s also not just about collecting data for the sake of having it or “connecting” your data sources; it’s about making sure your entire organization understands how to interpret and act on useful, standardized data (fast).

And while many businesses understand the value of data, they aren’t training employees to put it to work. For data science to be truly impactful, it can’t just be limited to your team of data scientists. It should be accessible to those on the front lines of the company and to the average non-technical user.

With participation enabled from all corners of an organization’s ecosystem, data democratization promotes a more agile environment where employees can wear multiple hats and gain new business insights.

Final Thoughts

Every interaction with your customer—whether it’s in person, on the phone, via live chat, or through a product purchase—presents an opportunity to get to know your customers better.

Remember—a business is not a one-way street. Your customers need to know they’re being heard. That’s why you should spare no effort in making the interaction between you and your target audience as smooth and frictionless as possible.

Recognizing CX challenges will go a long way in improving the customer experience.

3Pillar Global builds custom software products with a sharp focus on customer outcomes. We’ll help you create value and increase your revenue. To learn more about our services, contact an expert today.

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.