Customer service is a step that may be often overlooked in businesses. This is a problem that should be avoided because, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the factors that make for a good customer experience are convenience, consistency, friendliness and the tie that brings everything together: human touch. The article goes on to say that one in three consumers (32%) will venture to do business elsewhere after just one bad experience. In short, customers drive a company while a company drives the customer experience. Customer experience is crucial for a business, and improving that experience is essential to an organization.
Improving Customer Experience
Customer satisfaction plays a large role in an organization’s revenue stream. According to Educba, customers that are pleased contribute 2.6 times more towards the company than those who are not satisfied. In most cases, it is less work to retain consumers than it is to obtain new consumers. However, there is a fair amount of research and effort that businesses need to look into to provide the best customer experience possible.
Know Who Your Customers Are
In order for an organization to adopt a customer experience strategy (or modify a current one) to fit their customers best, they need to first understand who their customers — or target customers — are. If a business has an online presence, the organization can use analytics tools (i.e Google Analytics, Inspectlet) to identify trends and come to an understanding of what the customer demographics look like.
Create A Customer Experience Vision
Once an understanding of who the customers are is established, you can analyze and predict trends in order to create a vision with an emphasis on customer experience. When an organization’s vision is clear, it keeps the company parallel. Organizations should integrate expectations that align with a customer experience vision by explicitly defining core values. Once the core principles are in place, behavior tends to reflect it accordingly. Some examples of how to integrate core values clearly are to:
- Introduce them early in the employment process, such as during the hiring and training phase;
- Stamp them into the company (i.e. wall decals, email signatures, website);
- Award incentives for employees knowing — or embodying — the core values.
Establish an Emotional Connection with Your Customers
Aside from understanding who your customers are, establishing an emotional relationship with them is also extremely important. How you treat your customers is arguably as important as the service or product that you provide them with. While most people choose to believe that they use logic and rationale to make choices, according to Psychology Today, “emotions greatly influence and, in many cases, even determine our decisions.”
Creating an emotional connection can range from something as simple as listening to countless customer stories, or as direct as providing help outside of a job description. Customer loyalty emerges from emotions that are formed during and attached to an experience, so make sure those experiences are personal and intentional.
Gather and Adhere to Customer Feedback
We live in a day and age were Google, Yelp, and Facebook reviews guide individuals to organizations. Actively responding to and fixing issues that customers include in reviews can be very beneficial to an organization. Although issues are near impossible to avoid, they can be corrected.
Another way that organizations can gather feedback aside from reviews is to send out surveys. These surveys can be sent out as often as the company deems necessary (i.e. quarterly, annually) and can contain a variety of questions surrounding customer satisfaction. Companies can then take that data and mold the customer experience strategy accordingly.
Strategies to Create a Great Customer Experience
Businesses can create a positive digital customer experience through a variety of efforts. Although these factors are most commonly associated digitally, oftentimes they can extend into the physical world additionally.
Consumers want to be able to be to reach providers at any time. Customers don’t want to wade through a surplus of automated messages, they want to talk to a real-life person. It is nearly impossible to make yourself available at all times, but responding back in a timely manner is important as well. Make your services easily reachable, and readily available. Some ways to make this possible are services such as:
- Mobile Office;
- Online Help Desk;
- Online Appointment Scheduling.
Organizations want to make every part of their business convenient. From finding specific information on a website to find the organization’s physical building, simplicity is the goal. There are solutions that are convenient on both levels; for the consumer, and the provider. Examples of these are:
- Online Invoicing/Payments;
- Effective Parking Operations;
- Webinars/Blog Posts;
- Ticketless valet services;
In order to create an emotional connection with consumers, you need to be personal. Being personal doesn’t take much effort, but it does require being real, being available, and being courteous. Personalization doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A great example is Coca Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign. They labeled Coke products with names in order to make drinking a Coke just a little more personal. A few simple ways to be personal are:
- Hand-written thank-you letters;
- Follow-up phone calls;
- Office open houses.
Simplicity and Ease of Use
While being closely associated with convenience, it is important for all elements of an organization — digital and physical — to be simple and easy to use. If a customer feels discouraged or overwhelmed by a product or service they are receiving, oftentimes they will seek help elsewhere. Make all information clear and easily digestible.
A good thing to keep in mind is that just because something seems apparent and simple to you, doesn’t mean it is so to an outsider. Use an unbiased outside source to evaluate the navigation of your organization for simplicity.
With technology offering an array of resources in real-time, it is important to be flexible. Technology has put an emphasis on giving consumers what they want when they want it, however they want it. In order to provide adequate customer experience, an organization must offer immediacy and flexibility. Channel flexibility is facilitated through the other strategies, so it includes things such as:
- Blog Posts;
- Virtual Help Centers;
- Physical and Digital Support.
Creating a customer experience strategy requires research, technology, personalization, and overall effort. Though it may take some hard work and dedication, the impact of a good customer experience strategy speaks for itself.