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Customer Experience Audits: How To Do Them the Right Way

Customer Experience Audits: How To Do Them the Right Way

Home Blog Digital Marketing Customer Experience Audits: How To Do Them the Right Way

A customer experience audit involves analyzing each customer touchpoint with your business, from initial awareness to the post-purchase phase.

The goal is to learn your business’s strengths and identify areas for improvement when it comes to providing a great customer experience.

Customer experience audit is crucial to your overall customer experience management process. You may audit various departments, including marketing, sales, and customer service.

After all, in today’s competitive landscape, ensuring your business delivers an exceptional customer experience and meets customer needs and expectations is more important than ever. Customers want the best possible experience.

In fact, a study from PWC shows that 32% of all customers say they would stop doing business with a brand after only one bad experience. And if you don’t provide a great customer experience, your competition will.

Importance of a Customer Experience Audit

A customer experience audit can give valuable insights into your business and customers. Here are two of the key areas a customer experience audit can help you improve:

1- Finding Faulty Processes and Gaps

Every business has some unwanted gaps. An audit might help you uncover gaps in your customer service processes you didn’t even know you had. For example, are 20% of your customers abandoning checkout because of a complicated checkout flow?

You’ll be able to address these gaps, leading to higher customer satisfaction. If you’re losing customers at some point during the customer journey, an audit can help you understand where and why that’s happening.

When your team understands the friction points for your customers, they’re empowered to fix the holes in the experience.

2- Fine-Tuning the Customer Experience

Customer experience goes beyond just fixing issues when they occur. As a matter of fact, most customer complaints are not heard – some people might just stop doing business with you without sharing their negative experience.

Trying to solve customer problems is like trying to fix damage that’s already done.

A customer experience audit can help you be more proactive and stop issues from happening.

When you understand your customer journey, you’ll better understand your customers’ preferences, habits, and needs — and you’ll be better able to cater to them.

When you shift your mindset to keeping your customers happy, your customers will be more likely to remain loyal to your business.

Your marketing team can use newly discovered customer insights to develop stronger, more successful marketing campaigns.

When your customers are satisfied and your marketing team delivers strong campaigns that yield results, you can expect revenue and profitability to grow.

Some business owners don’t prioritize their customer experience, and that decision is reflected in their growth — or lack thereof.

A strong customer experience sets your business apart. An audit can help you uncover opportunities to create a superior customer experience and go the extra mile when your competitors may be only doing the bare minimum.

Customer retention strategies to grow sales


How To Prepare for a Customer Experience Audit

Taking the time to prepare for your customer experience audit properly will ensure it’s done thoroughly. Here are some steps you should take to have a successful audit:

1- Define Clear Objectives and Scope

Before you dive into the audit process, sit down and think about your objectives. What are you hoping to learn from the audit?

Are you hoping to improve the customer experience tied to one specific product or service? Or is your goal to enhance the overall customer journey?

Setting clear objectives will allow you to execute your efforts effectively. The objectives you select for your audit should always align with your strategic goals for your business.

2- Step into your customers’ shoes

Before you step into the fancy realm of customer intelligence and data gathering, it’s important to step into the customers’ shoes and go through their experience. This is a practice called “mystery-shopping”.

When in 2010, Kevin Peters became the new leader of Office Depot’s retail stores in the United States, he tried to understand why their sales were falling in spite of the fact that their customer service was considered superb.

So he went incognito (wearing faded jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap) and visited 70 stores in more than 15 states. He started casual conversations with customers, especially the ones that came out of the stores empty-handed.

He observed how the customer service was handled, and how the situation was managed.

One of the things he discovered was that their idea of customer service was flawed in essence: instead of building relationships with customers, they used to focus on store cleanliness.

Two other main issues were the huge store sizes, and focusing mainly on office products instead of offering useful complementary services such as copying, printing, shipping, installing software, and fixing computers.

Their customers didn’t consider office supply shopping fun, and wanted the smoothest and easiest shopping experience.

He immediately started on introducing ways to solve these issues, while keeping up his occasional mystery-shopping to put himself in the shoes of the customers and understand their experience better.

3- Gather Your Resources

Data is a crucial part of any successful customer experience audit. What kind of data should you gather? Think about customer feedback surveys, reviews, net promoter scores (NPS), customer service interactions, and any other relevant data points.

These data points will shed light on times the customer was delighted and times when your customer service fell short.

Customer service feedback


4- Develop a Plan

You’ll want to map out a plan for the entire customer experience audit step-by-step. Assign tasks to relevant team members who should be involved. Set clear timelines and check-ins to monitor progress.

Sticking to your plan will make the audit process more efficient, and you’ll be able to repeat your processes in future audits.

Steps for Conducting a Successful Customer Experience Audit

When conducting your next customer service audit, follow these steps to ensure your audit is productive and insightful.

1- Map Your Customer Journey

Begin your audit by understanding what the journey looks like for your customers from when they first become aware of your brand. You’ll want to identify each touchpoint across the customer journey and put yourself in their shoes.

What emotions are your customers feeling at each step? What pain points might they experience? How can you improve upon those pain points?

Use this information to create a visual illustration. This mapping type is a powerful tool for understanding your customers.

2- Evaluate Touchpoints

Now, it’s time to dive deeper into your touchpoints. It’s not enough to know when touchpoints are happening. You need to know exactly how effective each touchpoint is, so you can pivot as needed.

Is the journey easy to navigate, or are customers getting stuck at a specific touchpoint? Is your messaging consistent? Is it difficult for your customers to find customer service contact information?

HubSpot found that 47% of poor customer experiences happened because the contact information was difficult to find on a company website. Keep this in mind.

A customer experience audit goes through each touchpoint in the customer journey. Here are some examples of common touchpoints:

  • Social media
  • Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Downloads
  • Upsells or cross-sells
  • Shipping notifications
  • Customer support

Review your data platforms one at a time. If you’re overwhelmed, Google Analytics is a great place to start.

3- Collect and Analyze Data

Collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data may include metrics like NPS, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Qualitative data can be pulled from customer reviews, surveys, and interactions on social media. While quantitative data is invaluable, qualitative data allows you to understand the nuances of your customers’ feedback.

4- Assess Employee Engagement

Even if much of your customer journey is automated, and you’re using chatbots for first-line support, your real-life employees are paramount in delivering a superior customer experience.

If your employees are unhappy or unengaged, then that will be reflected in your customers.

This is the time to get your human resources department involved.

Employee engagement surveys can be a helpful way to collect information from your employees regarding what’s working well, what they like, what can be improved, and how happy they are overall working in your organization.

Use your findings to implement the necessary employee training programs and resources they need to provide the best possible customer service.

5- Review Your Systems and Technology

Do you use systems to manage your customer experience? If you don’t, you should be. Twilio found that fewer than 1 in 4 brands have the necessary technology to engage with consumers consistently.

A lot can go wrong, or right, in providing a consistent experience for your customers. And there are a lot of tools to align and synchronize.

Not just your sales software or your website logins, but think about email newsletter software, and social media interactions as well. Used efficiently, your tech stack can make your customers’ experience close to seamless.

Evaluate your systems. How user-friendly are they? Would someone who isn’t tech-savvy have a difficult time navigating them? Have your employees been properly trained to use them? It is people, process, and technology.

It’s important to ensure that the technology you’re using aligns with your objectives for your customer experience.

Process, people, and technology for customer success

6- Identify Gaps

Pinpoint areas for improvement and identify gaps between your current customer experience and your objectives. These gaps are opportunities for you to edit your systems and improve the experience for your customers.

For example, have you identified that your customers are frustrated because they’re not getting answers to their questions quickly?

This is an opportunity to improve your process. Maybe that means implementing a chatbot, so customers can ask questions 24/7.

7- Take Action

Compile the findings from your audit into a comprehensive report you can share with the appropriate teams. Make sure your teams are all aligned and united in working toward common objectives.

Develop a roadmap based on the problems you’ve identified. Create goals and benchmarks for improving on each of those gaps that occur.

These benchmarks and goals will differ for each business, but they should align with your organization’s overall strategic goals. For smaller companies, it may be easy to implement solutions to issues quickly.

In larger organizations, more time may be needed. In either case, you need to make the necessary changes in your product roadmap, track progress and share updates with all stakeholders.

What To Avoid During a Customer Experience Audit

Conducting a customer experience audit can be a complex process. Try to avoid these common mistakes for the best results:

  • Don’t rely solely on quantitative data. Qualitative data will provide you with a holistic view of your customer experience. The best approach is a balanced one.
  • Don’t neglect to communicate the results of the audit to all stakeholders. It’s much easier to drive change and innovation when everyone is aligned.
  • Don’t think of a customer experience audit as another task to check off your to-do list. Instead, consider it a strategic part of your overall business objectives. So do it consistently as part of your routine.
  • Don’t rely solely on self customer experience audits. If there are successful businesses in your niche, it’s important to understand how their customers feel about them so that you could learn to improve your processes. The best way to do this is using social media sentiment analysis, and doing mystery-shopping on your competitors.

Finally: Conduct Consistent Customer Experience Audits

Regular customer experience audits allow you to improve your processes continually. In fact, many companies opt to conduct customer service audits quarterly rather than annually.

A study conducted by SuperOffice found that 45.9% of companies surveyed prioritize customer experience over product and pricing.

Your business needs to be agile and flexible as your customers’ needs evolve and change. After all, your customer journey affects the way customers think about your brand.

And you want your brand to spark positive thoughts! So come up with the right customer experience audit strategy based on your needs, do it consistently to find areas for improvement, and devise an action plan and share it with your whole team.

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Mostafa Dastras

Mostafa Dastras is a writer at The Digital Project Manager, a leading digital project management resource hub and community run by the indie digital publishing team at Black & White Zebra. His work has appeared on some top publications such as HubSpot, WordStream, SmartInsights, LeadPages, Sendinblue and MarketingProfs. Visit his blog, LiveaBusinessLife or reach out via social to connect with him.

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