Customer experience (CX) has become a hot topic over the past few years and with good reason. Superior customer service is no longer a primary requirement for attracting and retaining customers. The customer’s experience must be stellar, memorable, and positive in order to provide the traction previously supplied by white glove customer service. How the customer is left feeling dictates their impression of a brand and impacts whether or not they will return to the business. “When people make purchases today, they want that purchase to make them feel a certain way,” says Daniel Newman, President of Broadsuite.
Customer experience means more than just a jovial greeting upon entering a store or personalized item suggestions based on your past purchases on a website. It goes much deeper into the core of your business and its values. Customer experience comes from an internal directive that permeates an entire business. We’ve compiled the best tips to help you craft a top notch customer experience.
Know what’s going on
Before you change anything, you have to understand what your current customer experience is like. Identifying the flow of events and emotions evoked by interacting with your business provide you with a holistic and unbiased view of your customer’s experience. From soup to nuts, break down the experience, and chart the interactions and touch points from a consumer’s first step in your store or first click on your website landing page. While you need to know the how the processes work, perhaps more important are the emotions your business triggers within consumers. Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy, brilliantly sums up this point by stating,
“Leaving the emotions of an experience up to chance is a risky way to gamble with the loyalty of your customers—particularly when competition is fiercer than ever.”
Once you have a handle on which emotions occur most frequently, you can go back to the drawing board and devise a comprehensive plan that systematically and consciously drives the emotions you want your consumers to experience. Having a grasp of these two components puts you back in control of your customer experience and affords you the ability to craft your desired experience.
Bring it all together
Now that you can appreciate how your customers experience your brand, it’s time to build customer experience into your overall business strategy. Customer experience tends to occur in an ad hoc fashion, but with your new insights, it’s imperative to integrate CX into your business model. This is a major change for most businesses, where they go from “a product-focused company to a customer-centric company,” claims Chuck Schaeffer, Vantive Media CEO. Bring the two together and make your customer experience strategy a part of your business plan. By doing so, you’ll uncover invaluable information about your customers and business that lead to a more cohesive plan to deliver on your quarterly and annual goals.
The second portion of this endeavor is getting everyone to buy in and invest the time and resources needed to make your ideal customer experience come to life. Without the entire business’s buy in of these standards, you’ll continue to flounder with your customer experience and lose out on valuable customers. CX is not an ancillary expense, but a necessity for any business. Studies have found that 60% of customers will pay more for a better experience and satisfied customers means brand loyalty and repeat business. Having everyone recognize CX’s importance will set your business on a track for a wildly improved customer experience.
Engage your customers
Your customers want to be acknowledged by your business. From their first interaction with your brand to their 1,000th, build in a strategy to connect with your customers at each touch point. This can range from a personalized post-purchase follow up email to a note asking for their opinions about their experiences with your business. Interacting with customers in a specialized way makes them feel valued, and puts you as the business on a peer-to-peer level with them. Altering your communication style by “shedding the “us vs. them” approach” allows for more transparency in your customer interactions, according to Becca Ramble. Being on an even playing field with your customers breeds more transparent communication and feedback.
This communication shift also feeds into your ‘voice of the customer’ data, which provides insights into the nuances of your customers, how they view your brand, and a plethora of other useful information. Having this material puts you in the shoes of your customers and allows you to experience your brand as they do. This visceral understanding can help determine future campaigns, course of actions, and priorities for your customer experience.
This doesn’t mean you need to perform formal focus groups or surveys. While those are incredibly useful, take this information and implement it on a smaller scale. If you use social media, reach out to users who comment, like, and share your posts and content. It may seem informal and like a one-off to them, but you’re crafting a specific customer experience by following up on their actions in a positive and encouraging way. Leaving them with a feeling that this business cares about its individual customers will go a long way and certainly yield future interactions and sharing.
Now that you are prepared to enhance your customer experience, what actions will you take? Share your ideas in the comments below!
About the Author: Julie Chomiak is the Content Marketing Specialist for Webs and Pagemodo. When she’s not scouring the web for small business trends, Julie loves traveling, interior design, and animals of all kinds. Get more from Julie on the Webs Blog and the Pagemodo blog.