There’s no getting around it; the customer is king. Without them, your business will be going nowhere fast. They have the power to make or break your business, and your aim should be to do everything in your power to make their experience a good one. Once upon a time, it would have been the quality of your product or service that made you stand out from the competition. Nowadays, however, the focus has shifted to the experience a brand is able to offer the customer throughout their journey. Improving the customer experience is not the easiest thing to deal with. There are certain things your customers will expect. These include being able to interact with your company, however they decide to do it. It’s also important that their experience is a personalized, rewarding and effortless one. Above all, they want this to be provided in an efficient amount of time. Here are some things you can do today.
The Customer Experience vs. Customer Service
You might think that they’re one and the same, but they’re actually quite different. Customer service focuses more on the way a service is delivered, before, during, and after a purchase. Customer experience, on the other hand, is the sum of all the experiences and interactions the customers have from your business relationship. The two work closely together, and you can’t have one without the other.
10 Steps to Improving Your Customer Experience
The first contact your customers will have with your business will be via the phone, email or one-to-one interaction, and this is where you can start making improvements.
Create a Customer-Focused Culture
There is little point in trying to make improvements if the whole of your workforce are not behind the changes. From the bottom to the top, everyone has to be focused on customer satisfaction. A good way to do this is to create a list of statements that can be used to guide company principles and focus your staff. Principles can include delivering an excellent service, to show humility and welcome change. Take steps to introduce a staff training program and focus on etiquette, how best to address customer complaints, and the standard responses to use.
Know Your Customers
If you don’t know who your customers are, how can you address their needs to improve your customer experience. The beauty of humans is that we are all so different. We don’t have the same needs, desires or expectations. As well as understanding demographics such as age, race, and residence you need to consider several other things. For example, how will they use your products and services, what are their expectations, and how will they prefer to interact with you.
Understanding who your customers are will result in a deeper understanding. Your employees will be able to empathize with them and look at the service they’re providing from their point of view.
Providing your customers with a live chat option is crucial to improving the customer experience. If your audience is within the 18-34 age bracket, you might do well to appreciate that more than half of them prefer this option over phone interactions. It is particularly popular among online retailers. However, there’s more to providing live chat than just having a person to answer customer questions. It can include co-browsing, which is where an agent takes control of a user’s browser to provide technical support or to direct them to pages where they will find what they want. Audio/video chat services, integrated knowledge bases, and Chatbot services are also being added to the list.
Mobile Customer Support
More than 91% of adults in the US own a mobile phone, and more than 63% of them use their phones several times a month to search for products and customer support. Providing a mobile interface for your customers is vital. Unfortunately, many are poorly designed and cumbersome to use, even if there is an optimized website. The result of these poor designs is that customers are forced to contact a business directly for simple queries. Contact centers are then flooded with queries. Allowing customers to solve their problems using their mobile phone will improve the customer experience.
Social Media Support
It’s possible to use social media to communicate with customers in a customer-centric way. Many large companies use it very effectively. Using a variety of social media platforms, companies can share content and answer questions from customers. The marketing department can also ask interesting questions and gain a better understanding of the customer base.
There are two ways self-service portals can help a company. Firstly, they improve the customer experience. Secondly, they reduce workload and thereby increase company capacity. A self-service portal provides customers with instant access to information. A series of self-help functions are open to the customer and accessible through a company’s website. Features include:
- Self-resolution of issues through the use of a knowledge base
- Password reset
- Self-logging of incidents
- Service request
- Collaborative spaces
- Chat services
Empowering customers to find information, request services, and resolve their own issues is a great way of improving the customer experience.
Provide a Range of Communication Channels
Not so very long ago, customers would have been more than happy to call customer care to get assistance. Those days are long gone, and today’s customers want to have access to more options. These should include text, email, and social media, depending on which your customer is most comfortable with.
Younger age groups may prefer to use social media while those over 40 might prefer to call customer care. The industry you’re working in can also influence the channels you choose to use. In a more professional industry, phone calls or post might be more appropriate. There is no one size fits all, and some experimentation will be required to find which fits best.
Customer Experience Manager
This is a relatively new role and has come about because customer experience requires effort from across a company, which means someone needs to be managing it. A customer experience manager will look across a range of departments such as customer service, sales, market, production and more. They will act as the link between customer and company, coordinating work across all the different departments.
Researching and Gathering Data
A crucial part of the customer experience is conducting research and gathering data. Customers expect a certain quality of service when calling your company. The service you deliver has to be above average. If the service received is excellent, it is more likely they will pay more for your products or services and return time and time again. To provide exemplary customer service, you first have to do some research and gather feedback from your customers. Asking customer testimonial questions will help you to establish their needs, wants, and expectation. It will also help you to grow your company with the help of customer reviews.
Benchmarking and Evaluating
There is no point in implementing any changes if you aren’t going to spend time evaluating whether the processes, teamwork, and technology are paying off. It’s important to measure the return on investment of customer experience. Finding the best strategy will be much easier if you’re able to try different things. Collecting data to ensure you know what works and what doesn’t. A good question to ask customers that will gauge the effectiveness of a strategy is “Would you recommend this service to a friend or relative?”. Provide a point-scale to measure how happy or unhappy they were.
The Benefits of Optimizing the Customer Experience
Companies who invest time and effort in improving the customer experience will reap the rewards, both in terms of revenue and financial health. There are many benefits of providing an excellent customer experience including increased customer loyalty and higher customer retention. It’s also interesting to learn that a high percentage of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.
There’s no way you can anticipate every customer issue, but you can anticipate there being an issue and making it easy for customers to contact you. Being reactive and proactive will pay off. Customers want to be treated well, respected, understood, and get what they want. They want a good experience when dealing with your company and an assurance that every time they get in touch, the experience will be equally good. The modern consumer has an immense amount of power, and they can choose to wield it as they see fit. Providing an excellent customer experience will instill trust and boost revenue.
Providing the best customer experience can help you to build meaningful relationships with your customers. The experience you provide is a reflection of your business. Your brand image depends on more than just a single moment when a purchase is made. It is a culmination of every interaction they have with your company. Provide a superior customer experience, and you will have a competitive advantage, build customer loyalty, encourage positive word-of-mouth, personalize relationships, and provide customer satisfaction.
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