Simple Ways to Improve Customer Experience
The definition of customer experience is any contact a customer and an organization have throughout the course of their working relationship. Interactions can include everything from awareness, discovery, cultivation, and advocacy to purchase, service, and follow-up.
Positive customer interactions are essential for building customer loyalty and maintaining a strong customer base.
On the other hand, negative customer experiences can have a lasting negative impact on future business prospects and may even result in the loss of a customer relationship.
Customer service and customer experience are not interchangeable terms. While customer service refers to a single point of contact with a brand, customer experience encompasses the entire journey of the customer and involves their emotions and feelings. A customer-focused approach to customer experience involves considering every interaction that a customer has with the company.
Companies that effectively implement a customer experience strategy often see increased customer satisfaction, reduced customer churn, and increased revenue.
Providing an exceptional customer experience can not only retain customers but also encourage them to spread the word about their positive experiences.
How do you make your customer experience outstanding?
There are several ways that companies can create an outstanding customer experience:
Focus on the customer
Focusing on the customer means prioritizing the needs and preferences of the customer and tailoring the customer experience to meet those needs. This can involve gathering customer feedback to understand their needs and preferences and using that information to inform decisions about products, services, and customer support. It can also involve designing the customer experience with the customer in mind and ensuring that all interactions with the company are intuitive and easy for the customer. By focusing on the customer, companies can create a customer experience that is tailored to the specific needs of the individual customer, which can lead to increased satisfaction and loyalty.
Personalize the experience
Personalizing the customer experience involves using customer data to tailor interactions and offer personalized recommendations and solutions to the individual customer. This can be achieved through data analytics and customer segmentation techniques, which allow companies to understand the unique needs and preferences of different groups of customers. By personalizing the customer experience, companies can create a more relevant and engaging experience for the individual customer, increasing satisfaction and loyalty.
- Offer personalized recommendations based on the customer's previous purchases or browsing history
- Personalize marketing communications based on the customer's interests and preferences
- Offer personalized support and assistance based on the customer's specific needs
- Provide personalized experiences, such as personalized product recommendations or customized product options, based on the customer's preferences.
Create a seamless experience
Creating a seamless experience involves making it easy for customers to interact with your company across channels and ensuring that the experience is consistent and unified. This can involve designing a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints, such as the company website, social media, in-store, and customer service interactions. It can also involve using technologies such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems to create a single view of the customer and provide a cohesive experience across different channels. By creating a seamless experience, companies can provide a smooth and consistent journey for the customer, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.
Ensure that the branding and messaging are consistent across all channels
Provide a consistent level of service across all channels
Use technologies such as CRM systems to create a single view of the customer and ensure a cohesive experience
Offer a variety of channels for customers to interact with the company, such as web chat, social media, and phone support
Allow customers to easily switch between channels without starting the conversation from scratch.
Respond promptly to customer inquiries
Being responsive is an important aspect of creating a positive customer experience. Customers appreciate fast responses to their questions and concerns, and timely responses can help to resolve issues and build trust. This can involve providing multiple channels for customers to reach out to the company, such as phone, email, or chat, and ensuring that there are sufficient resources in place to respond promptly to customer inquiries. By responding promptly to customer inquiries, companies can demonstrate their commitment to customer service and help to create a positive customer experience.
Provide multiple channels for customers to reach out to the company
Set clear expectations for response times and meet those expectations
Ensure that there are sufficient resources in place to handle customer inquiries in a timely manner
Provide self-service options, such as a knowledge base or FAQs, to allow customers to find answers to common questions independently.
Solving problems effectively
Addressing the issue and resolving the problem is an important aspect of creating a positive customer experience. When issues do arise, it is important for companies to work to find a solution that addresses the customer's needs and resolves the problem promptly. This can involve providing clear and concise communication to the customer, as well as being proactive in finding a resolution. By solving problems effectively, companies can demonstrate their commitment to customer satisfaction and help to create a positive customer experience.
Provide clear and concise communication to the customer about the problem and the steps being taken to resolve it.
Be proactive in finding a resolution to the problem.
Ensure that there are sufficient resources in place to handle and resolve customer issues.
Provide a clear process for escalating and resolving more complex or severe issues.
Follow up with the customer to ensure that the problem has been fully resolved to their satisfaction.
Exceed customer expectations
Exceeding customer expectations involves going above and beyond to surprise and delight customers. This can involve providing unexpected perks or extras or going out of the way to resolve an issue that exceeds the customer's expectations. By exceeding customer expectations, companies can create a positive customer experience that goes beyond the customer's expectations, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty. Offer unexpected perks or extras, such as a gift or discount on a future purchase.
- Go out of the way to resolve an issue in a way that exceeds the customer's expectations
- Provide personalized experiences or recommendations based on the customer's needs and preferences
- Anticipate and proactively address potential issues before they arise
- Follow up with the customer to ensure that their needs have been fully met and that they are satisfied with their experience.
Getting customer feedback
Asking for input and acting on it is an important aspect of creating an outstanding customer experience. By soliciting feedback from customers, companies can understand their needs and preferences, as well as identify areas for improvement in the customer experience. It is important for companies to not only collect feedback but also to act on it by using it to make changes and improvements to the customer experience.
This can involve implementing changes based on customer feedback or using it to inform decisions about products, services, and customer support. By getting feedback from customers and acting on it, companies can create a customer experience that is continuously improved and tailored to the needs of the customer.
- Solicit feedback through surveys or customer feedback forms
- Use customer feedback to inform product or service improvements
- Respond to customer feedback and address any issues or concerns that are raised
- Implement changes based on customer feedback
- Provide customers with updates on how their feedback has been used to improve the customer experience
Developing a Customer Experience Strategy
Create a customer journey map
This is an outline of every step a customer may take when they interact with your company, including interactions that extend beyond a purchase. Account for pre-sale as well as post-sale aspects of the customer experience. It's tempting to spend your time and effort on the interactions leading up to a sale. But to build a complete customer experience that establishes long-term customers, the interactions post-sale are equally important.
View the customer experience from multiple internal perspectives
Marketing is focused on customer acquisition. This makes your marketing team experts on brand awareness and user expectations—what content your audience consumes the most and what generates the best leads. Their insight allows you to understand how people find your business and how to define your reputation better to lead to increased sales.
Sales staff handles the early stages of a customer relationship. Their interactions with potential customers show what motivates each individual lead. Sales professionals can tell you about the challenges the customers encounter regularly and how they (sales) expect your product or service can address those challenges.
Leads that do not convert can provide you with an understanding of what aspects of your product or customer experience offer led to the missed opportunity. Customer service is the first line of communication for feedback. This is where any product frustration first surfaces. Customer service hears honest feedback daily. So turn to that department to learn what causes the most problems for your customers.
Then, verify that what you communicate in your sales and marketing processes aligns with your customers' real experiences.
Show your entire company there is a clear focus on the customer experience initiative
You cannot change the customer experience overnight, so demonstrate your clear focus on and commitment to this initiative. Every team member will be impacted, as they will have to communicate changes, facilitate operations, organize research and analysis, and perform necessary actions to ensure your new approach is consistent across all departments.
Failure to align senior management can result in three roadblocks: inconsistent interactions between company and customer, walling off information that could be helpful to customers and employees, and lack of employee support.
Understand there will still be churn and learn from it
Find out why any customers who left chose to move on. Have multiple channels for these customers to leave feedback. Take their opinions seriously. You should want to hear where your company fell short. Make it easy for customers to cancel their accounts, but find out why a particular customer decided to cancel.
Your goal, of course, is not to have customers cancel. While sometimes it's inevitable. Here are simple ways to encourage a positive customer experience.
How to Encourage a Positive Customer Experience
- Design your customer's experience with your company's mission and goals in mind. This makes your company stand out from the rest.
- Personalize the experience by having empathy for your customers and knowing what their needs are when they contact your company.
- Make customers feel comfortable and be friendly and warm in all interactions.
- Deliver the best value to your customers. Clear pricing and taking adequate time to answer questions encourage decision-making.
- Listen to customer feedback. Be on the lookout for ways to use what you learn and improve your practices.
- Be consistent in applying the standards you've developed across your customers' experience. This encourages them to return.
- Remember, too many bells and whistles are distracting. Use technology to enhance, not create, the experience.
- Show your customers that you appreciate them. Say "thank you."
Wrapping it up
Maybe this is overwhelming, but we want to close with this:
Making changes, no matter how simple, will go a long way in ensuring your customers have the best experience possible when working with you.
Here are some practical questions to ask yourself about your company and services. Answering them and thinking about how these answers impact your customers will go a long way in ensuring their experience is outstanding.
- What channels does your business actively use, and how are they used?
- What types of channels are being used to provide the customers with service?
- Is all friction removed from the purchase process?
- Are you set up in a personalized way to meet and cater to individual customer needs?
- Have all service and informational channels been optimized for mobile? Is the customer journey straightforward?
As customers become more empowered, the importance of the customer experience increases. Competing on pricing is not enough. You need to compete with great experiences to get customers connected to your company. This can be your advantage over your competition.
For every step of the customer journey—from finding your name, to doing business with you, to returning over time to do more business—you must understand what the customer says about their experiences with you. And work to make it the best it can be.