You looking to crush that next business milestone or set up your business for massive success in the long run? Here’s an idea; customer experience. In today’s fast-paced business landscape, companies are increasingly becoming more aware of the impact of providing stellar customer experience. How good or bad your customer experience is, may well be the difference between staying afloat or going under. So, pay attention.
What is Customer Experience?
Think of all your services and interactions with the customer as a pipeline, the journey by a customer from one end of the pipeline to the other, can be considered as customer experience. Customer experience is the sum total of a customer’s interaction with a brand. From before acquisition to after conversion.
A business may interact with a customer via various touchpoints like its website, a customer representative or retail outlet. A company’s effort in ensuring that its customers can easily access its products, sort out any issues and get the expected results all contributes to customer experience. From the customer’s perspective, customer experience involves all that they see, touch, hear and interact with.
Why is Customer Experience Vital for your Business?
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all”
Facts and figures aside, how else do you hope to satisfy, keep, and grow your customer base without actually giving your customers what they want. Maybe there is a secret technique that helps a business do that without catering to the needs of its customers (Spoiler Alert: there isn’t).
Providing an excellent customer experience is a surefire way to grow your business. In fact, a study by the Qualtrics XM Institute (a customer experience research and consulting firm, formerly known as the Temkin Group) shows that companies can expect to earn up to a 70% increase in revenue after just three years of investing in customer experience. So, if your business does a billion dollars in annual revenue, getting $700 million more for only focusing on customer experience seems like a no-brainer.
The smaller you are as a company, the more important customer experience is, because, as a small company, you may not have a massive marketing budget, but if you deliver exceptional customer experience, your customers become loyal ambassadors of your brand and can help you grow your businessvia word of mouth. Your customers become repeat customers and so will their friends and family. The same applies to big companies. Every business needs loyal customers.
Customer Experience vs Customer Service. Where are you now?
Simply put, customer service is a subset of customer experience. Customer experience is the big picture, while customer service is a color on the big picture. Customer service usually involves the interaction between the customer and a representative of the business especially when the customer needs help or advice relating to the business’s products or services. Customer service is the human component of the customer experience.
A business can interact with a customer via automated systems that don’t require human input, but when a person actually has to meet or speak with a customer, we have customer service. Customer experience involves everything from the product itself, how using the product feels, how the product is designed, the process of buying the product, the process of receiving the product to customer service and support, marketing and so on. Customer experience is pretty much all-encompassing.
Although customer service only swings into action when there is an issue or a problem to fix, customer experience efforts try to get in front of problems before they occur. Both customer service and customer experience are key to a company’s success. They both exist to serve the customer.
Why most businesses are now investing heavily in Customer Experience Management?
I could go on and on rambling about the numbers, and yes there are studies to prove the efficacy of awesome customer experience in growing a business. For me, a focus on customer experience management is a customer-centric approach that can only lead to one outcome; a happy customer. A happy customer ultimately results in a healthy business.
Check this out, if on your birthday, you receive an actual birthday card or a bouquet of flowers (plus a discount code of course) and not just a generic ‘happy birthday’ email from a brand you patronize, how would that make you feel? You are bound to feel valued and will most likely stick with that brand long into the future. Customer experience management is all about the customer and should stay so.
Customer experience has always been important, back in the day when people actually had to go to a store to get groceries (yes, I know they still do), the storekeeper as part of providing excellent customer experience, had to ensure that the store was clean, the atmosphere was conducive, the products where neatly arranged and so on.
I believe that in recent memory, there is now more awareness on customer experience and its impact on business. And of course, there is now more competition. Any company who decides to ignore its customers and take its customer experience efforts lightly will be put out of business by a company that truly values its customers. Customers are looking for businesses that have their best interests at heart and when you can show that you value your customers and deliver a great experience, you will win their hearts. And as we know, loyal customers are the best kind of customers.
Building a solid Customer Experience Strategy will be paramount for business success.
10 Critical Customer Experience Strategies You Can Use Right NOW
1. Develop a customer-focused culture
To truly excel at delivering excellent customer experience, all hands need to be on deck. You can’t just form a department for customer experience and call it a day. There needs to be a company-wide awareness, every member of your team has to always try to see things from the perspective of the customer.
This can be quite challenging and depending on the nature of your business there will be shocks between trying to get more numbers and staying true to a customer-centric mission. Therefore, make sure you really get everyone on board on your vision of how great CX equals excellent business results.
2. Know your ideal customer experience and optimize for that
You can’t actually deliver great customer experience without knowing what exactly you are trying to do. First figure out how you want the customer to feel when they interact with your brand, then optimize your efforts to achieve that. Ponder on this quote by Steve Jobs. “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want”.
3. Have the right people on your team
In point 1 you saw this, but let me repeat it… ’make sure you have a passionate and committed team.’ This is as important as any strategy out there, and for me it’s the most important business decision you will ever make.
If the individuals who actually represent your brand don’t give a damn, developing and delivering excellent customer experience will be an uphill battle. Hire people who have soft skills and have no trouble interacting with others. Come up with a set of core principles for your employees to follow when dealing with customers.
4. Be innovative with your customer experience efforts
When it comes to customer experience, a proactive approach is your best bet. You can’t always sit back and wait for your customers to tell you what they want, you have to give them what they never knew they needed, this way, you can stay ahead of the game as far as customer experience is concerned.
5. Study your customer experience analytics
Of course, you will have to leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in collating customer experience metrics. Once you have these metrics at your fingertips, you can study them and make relevant adjustments to your customer experience strategy.
Provided that you have no budget for more sophisticated resources, then just make use of the good old tools such as MS Excel, where you can capture and store data, quantify it, build dashboards and make an analysis of the data in order to make more informed decisions.
6. Employ feedback loops
To know how well or not you are doing, you will have to get feedback from your customers. You could ask them directly while they are using your service or after they use your service. You could also be a part of the online conversations around your brand.
Feedback is paramount in making sure you are on track with your customer experience efforts, both in terms of product or service experience and impressions. Additionally, by opening up and leveraging feedback, you can get insights on how to better serve and dazzle your customers.
7. Try an Omnichannel approach
Not to be confused with a multi-channel approach where the various touchpoints of a business operate as separate business entities, an omnichannel approach provides various touchpoints (website, retail store) as part of a one singular business entity.
An omni-channel approach makes it easier to manage customer experience. And your customers will appreciate it knowing that they get the same experience irrespective of which touchpoint they use in interacting with your brand.
8. Develop a CX Management Program
In addition to having a culture that prioritizes customer experience, developing a structured program for managing your customer experience efforts will help you track your progress and set up systems of accountability.
There is a reason why most businesses nowadays are employing CXO (Customer Experience Officer), who is someone who will be responsible and accountable for all the company’s customer experience strategies, the delivery, and managing the teams who engage with customers and get that valuable feedback.
The CXO, or the customer experience team has, also, to help other departments to stay true to the customer centric approach by helping them make the right products, pricing, etc.
9. Reward loyal customers
Rewarding those customers who are already loyal to your brand will do well to help propagate positive word of mouth around your brand. They will become passionate ambassadors of your brand. Aside from the usual rewards like a discount or a free product, a guide or an eBook is also a solid option.
Of course, there will be different level of rewards and incentives depending on your customer segment and on whether you’re dealing with B2B or B2C (which at the end of the day, it’s people anyway).
Think of it like this, most companies who get high scores in their customer experience and satisfaction surveys, and get tons of great referrals from their customers they eternalize their businesses, because there is a bigger chance of growth when your loyal customers are also your brand ambassadors.
10. Optimize your CX Strategy
There is no such thing as the perfect customer experience strategy. Developing an effective customer experience strategy is a continuous process. You are meant to track your results and optimize your process to yield better results.
Today’s customers are savvier than ever and there is now an abundance of options on the market. Improving upon your strategy around how to make customers happy and loyal is the only way to ensure that your existing customers don’t jump ship and that they become proponents of your brand.
If you are wondering why the title of this post says ‘Your 2nd Best Investment is Boosting Customer Experience Management’, then know that your very first is Building a Passionate Team & Culture that Will Put all that into Practice. Without that, all the best strategies in the world will fail you.
REFERENCES & FURTHER READING
Mckinsey. The CEO Guide to Customer Experience. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/the-ceo-guide-to-customer-experience. Accessed on 10/23/2019.
Steven MacDonald. 7 Ways to Create A Great Customer Experience Strategy. https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-strategy/
UserTesting. What is Customer Experience? 7 Great Industry Experts Weigh in. https://blog.usertesting.com/blog/what-is-cx/. Accessed on 10/23/2019.
The Customer Service Experience Pet Peeves – Retail …. https://retaillearning.co/the-customer-service-experience-pet-peeves/. Accessed on 10/23/2019.
Customer Experience: What It Is and How to Use It | CloudApp. https://www.getcloudapp.com/blog/customer-experience Accessed on 10/23/2019.