Customer experience is one of the most important factors of a business's success. In fact, 84% of organisations that work to improve their customer experience report seeing an increase in revenue!
So what is customer experience, why is it important, and how can I get it right? Let's talk about that.
What Is Customer Experience?
Customer experience covers a wide range, but it boils down to the experience of a customer on their journey with your company. This involves anything that happens from the time they step in the door of a coffee shop to the time they finish their drink later at work.
Was there a bunch of trash in the parking lot? Was the place crowded? Was the line moving too slow? Did they mess up my drink? Was the employee rude? All of those, and a lot more, will play a role in the impression the customer got from their trip to get their morning cup of coffee.
This applies to every business. If a customer goes onto an eCommerce store, they're bombarded with advertisements, the site is difficult to navigate, and the shipping is $20 and will take 2 weeks, this will ultimately lead to a negative customer experience. No matter what your business offers, it could benefit from taking steps to improve its customer experience.
Why Customer Experience Matters
Customer experience is crucial for several reasons, but let's talk about it from a business owner's standpoint. When you're running a business, you have one objective; to make consistent revenue in the hopes of profit.
You actually have two objectives to achieve this; get customers and keep them.
Any business that only focuses on marketing and not customer retention is doomed to fail. You can just keep getting new customers over and over, but you'll eventually run out if none of them come back. Not only is retention cheaper than acquisition, but it's also more important for the long-term health of a business.
Not only that, 47% of consumers report that they have stopped using brands because of poor customer experience. This makes it absolutely crucial to brand loyalty. If you look at a company like Apple, their business relies almost entirely on brand loyalty, and they're valued at over $2 trillion USD (over $2.7 trillion AUD).
How To Improve Customer Experience
Now that you know how helpful the right customer experience is to your business, you're probably wondering how you can implement it. Every business has differences that you will have to conform to, but there are some pretty uniform areas where almost every business could start.
There are literally hundreds of ways a company could improve its customer experience, and it all comes down to making it a priority. If you want to start implementing a strategy for customer experience, then here are a few places to start.
Training your employees to be customer-driven is the only way to ensure a proper customer experience. If people call in or come into your location, you're probably not going to be there for every single interaction with a customer.
However, every single interaction with a customer still counts. That's what you need to remember. A customer is most valuable to you when they repeat their purchases or come back for more, and they'll be a lot less likely to do that if the customer service is poor or inconsistent.
Focus on customer service in training for all employees, even the ones who don't always have direct contact with customers. Make sure that you're working toward uniformity in customer interactions online, on the telephone, and in person.
Also, be sure to let employees know of your customer policies. For example, if you want to offer a lenient return policy as part of your customer experience strategy, make sure employees know about it right away along with any other new policies.
Improve Your Website
Your website is your home base for your entire digital presence and marketing strategy. Because of this, it needs to be your best showcase of the kind of customer experience you want to display.
Your website is where your social media links to, it has your landing page for your ad campaigns, and it's where all of your important information is located. If you make sales, appointments, or have contact options on this website, then this plays a huge role in the overall customer experience.
Your website might be their first impression of your business. If they click on an ad and see an unprofessional website, they may just take their business elsewhere. Even if not, it sets a bad tone for your business from the start and could lower your chances of retaining those customers.
Remember, most web traffic is now on mobile devices. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on a smartphone. If you're not convinced, remember that this will also boost your SEO!
To put it simply, there is no substitute for a professionally designed website with easy navigation tools, fast page speeds, and mobile-friendly measures in place. If you don't have that in 2021, you're not even competing.
Improve Customer Service
Which company is known for having some of the best customer service? Amazon. They're known for being "customer-obsessed" and offering generous return policies, easy-to-contact customer service, and fast response times.
While your company certainly doesn't have the same resources as a giant like that, you can still learn to follow in their footsteps. Make sure that you don't neglect the contact page of your website, and try to focus some of the language on it toward the customer. For example: "If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out to us here and one of our representatives will get back to you as soon as possible."
Make that uniform outside of your website as well. While letting customers go to voicemail isn't exactly great for customer experience, it does happen. Make sure they can leave a message easily and do everything to minimise response time and be as helpful as possible with every interaction. This should be included in all staff training.
This is what customers will remember the most about their overall experience with your business, along with the quality of your products or services, so it needs to be taken seriously.
Focus On Quality
A major part of achieving the right customer experience is the quality of the product or service your business offers. Some businesses are able to offer amenities like lenient return policies because they know the quality of their products is up to par.
Not only that, customers are purchasing an item because it's something they want, making it less likely for them to return it in the first place.
They might be willing to spend top dollar on something if the quality and experience are worth it. There are plenty of stores that offer coffee for a very low cost, so why do people choose to spend a few extra dollars at fancy shops? Because they offer some of the best customer service, but also quality coffee.
If the quality of the product meets or exceeds the customer's expectations, that's the part they'll remember, so take it seriously. Here are some ways to work on improving your quality.
Ask For Feedback
This is an easy way to improve the quality of your product, show your customers that you value their opinions, and improve your customer experience.
There are plenty of ways to ask for feedback, but you can start small! Pass out surveys, send a follow-up email, or ask customers in person how you could improve. Customers typically enjoy individual attention and the ability to provide their opinions. However, they especially like when they see their ideas implemented!
Also, take criticism and roll with it, even if you have an angry customer. If your customer is angry and screaming, they may be difficult to deal with, but they may also have useful information for how you can improve your customer experience.
Any feedback that is specific to the quality of the product and customer service should be prioritised unless there is a quick fix in the customer's concerns. For example, if the cleanliness of your establishment was listed, that's something that can be handled immediately and won't require staff training or product development.
Offer More Variety Or Niche Down
Sometimes, the problem isn't your existing products, it's the lack of them. The more products or services you can offer, the wider your target audience becomes!
You will also be more likely to have repeat customers and an improved customer experience because people may have one product of yours that they like and want more. If you can offer it to them, great! Convenience is a part of the customer experience.
For example, if you sell a facial cleanser, somebody may love your facial cleanser more than any other one they've ever tried. However, they may be able to get a bundle deal with another company that sells makeup, facial cleanser, and moisturiser all in one convenient package.
The same goes for a coffee shop, a physical therapist's office, or an ice cream store. The more quality products or services you can offer, the more convenient it is for the customer.
It's also beneficial to niche down your business in certain circumstances. It cuts down on competition, paving the way for your business to become an industry leader.
Avoid Unnecessary Hurdles
Speaking of convenience, let's talk more about Amazon's customer experience. You can buy things with one click. From there, planes fly, trucks drive across the country, and vans deliver it right to your door. They have your address and credit card saved, large-scale logistics are done without you having to think about it, and all you did was click a button.
You subscribe once a month or once a year, so you don't have to think about it—shipping is included, and it's at your door the next day. If the thing you ordered doesn't work or isn't what you wanted, you send it back and they refund you immediately without asking any questions.
A lot of business is done online these days, so find out how your website is performing, and how you can improve it.
That's how business should be done, but it isn't too realistic for a small company. However, any company can take steps to avoid added hurdles for their customers.
Again, you want a user-friendly website with easy-to-reach representatives and everything to be as clear as possible for the customer. Remember that the average person exits a site after 3 seconds of loading, so spare no expense on improving performance.
There are plenty of other small steps you can take to make tedious processes easier. Do your best to maintain up-to-date technology like credit card chip readers, fully stocked and organised shelves, a menu that's easy to read, and more.
This is more specific to each individual business, so it really comes down to monitoring your performance and looking for ways to improve. Always look at your business through the lens of the customer to better understand how you can improve their experience.
Customer Experience Design
Most importantly, you're going to want to sit down and develop a strategy for customer experience. Start with the ideas mentioned above and work toward building a clear design for the short and long-term goals of your company.
Ask for feedback, reevaluate your current strategy, track your team's performance, and continue to solve problems for your customers.
The right customer experience strategy will take your mission and vision, market research, customer data, and competitive insights into account from the start, and it should be as detailed as possible, including the lowest levels of your staff up to the top!
You Don't Have To Do It Alone
Facilitating the right kind of customer experience isn't a one-person job. You have your trusted team of staff to help you, and you can always use the help of experienced customer relations managers.
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