Customer experience is now predicted as the biggest brand differentiator. Let thank sink in…
That’s right – CX is what sets you apart from your competition more than any other factor; including price and product.
What does that mean in real terms? Well, simply put, it doesn’t matter how cost effective you are or how great your product or service is. If you can’t look after your customers – you lose them. Meeting consumer expectations whether it’s in a B2C or B2B transaction has never been more important.
77% of consumers say inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
In addition, 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.
It’s pretty compelling evidence that what matters most to customers, is feeling like they matter to a business. Consumers need to feel valued, heard, and have an experience designed for them that makes their life easier, adds value, and ultimately meets their expectations.
But what is customer experience?
Firstly, let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not just customer service, answering phones or responding to emails.
It’s much bigger.
The customer experience starts the moment your customer first hears of your brand, and spans every single interaction they have with it all the way through to the last time they deal with you. It’s not just who they speak to, it includes technology like your website or chat functions, it includes marketing they might see from you, how quickly their payment or refunds are processed and even how clean your business premises are.
It’s everything they see, hear, feel, and touch relating to your brand and their purchasing and receiving of goods or service. Every employee in your organisation can impact the customer experience and everyone should know how they fit into it.
If it helps, consider customer experience as an umbrella that covers all other departments in your business.
7 ways to build a great customer experience:
Now that we know how important Customer Experience is, and what it is, let’s look at 7 of the best ways you can make sure you build the best customer experience possible.
1. Look after your staff
Having a happy and productive workforce should be a goal in and of itself. It’s good practice to look after your people – after all, they spend most of their time helping you build your business, but did you know how happy your team are also impacts your customer experience?
In fact, companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by 147%.
There is a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, so make sure you understand what’s important to your team and that you listen to their needs.
2. Invest in training
Knowledgeable, confident staff are more likely to be engaged, happy, and stay with an organisation longer. This can help improve your customer experience in so many ways, from having happier staff talking to customers, empowering them with the right answers to help your customers, and ensuring consistency is maintained because you don’t have to keep hiring new people. The benefits to investing in the right training for your teams are huge and what’s more…
Professional development seems to be of particular importance to the younger generations, of which a huge 87% claim it is a necessity.
3. Step into your customers’ shoes
When was the last time you tried to walk in your customers’ footsteps and actually experience your brand? Is that even possible for you now, or are you so familiar with how your business works (and why), that it’s difficult to view your processes exclusively through your customers’ perspective. If that’s the case, you aren’t alone.
Did you know that 84% of mid to large sized businesses hire consultants (and are satisfied)?
It can be useful to get an unbiased view of your customer journey and gain insight from someone who doesn’t yet know your business so well they could potentially be blind to some areas of frustration. Whether you hire someone to help you, or you look at it yourself, make sure that you regularly take time to reflect on what your customer is seeing, hearing, and feeling. Try to make the experience as easy for them as possible.
The most important thing before making any changes to improve your customer experience is to make sure you genuinely understand your customer. You can’t guess at this and by making assumptions you may well end up changing something your customers loved, or missing something critically important.
The best way to get to the bottom of what your customers expect and their genuine views about your customer experience is to ask them. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to provide feedback on their experience as frequently as they like. Create feedback links that are perpetual and can be accessed by any customer, at any time, on any device. By making it as easy as possible to hear your customers, you’ll be amazed at the insight you can learn.
Don’t forget that 91% of customers unhappy with a brand will just leave without ever telling them why, so any feedback you receive should be treated the precious insight it is.
5. Take action
Once you have all that wonderful data about what it feels like to be your customer, the things they love and what causes them pain, make sure you do something with it.
Create a clear feedback process internally so that all staff know what to look out for and what to do with feedback once they receive it. Ensure that everyone is kept up to date on feedback trends and gets a chance to suggest ways to fix common issues. Some of the best ideas can come from those speaking to customers every day so don’t feel that as the leader of a business or the customer teams all the ideas have to come from you.
Make improvements in an agile way and measure how well they are working as you go along. Don’t be afraid to backtrack if something doesn’t have the desired impact once you’ve given it enough time to work.
6. Close the loop
There’s nothing more frustrating as a consumer than spending your own valuable time to provide feedback, make a complaint or suggest improvements to a company – only to receive radio silence in return.
Show your customers that you value them, their time, and their thoughts by thanking them and keeping them updated. You don’t have to give them insight into your full customer experience strategy, but it’s best practice to ensure they know you are using their feedback.
Regardless of whether you use industry best practice, customer insight, employee ideas, or a combination of all three (recommended) to improve your customer experience, one of the most critical aspects is to never consider yourself ‘finished’. Customer needs evolve, your business will change over time and you can guarantee that there will be tweaks made here or there to sales processes, website copy or internal processes.
Your customer experience will change and, even if nothing changes internally, your customer’s perception, expectation, and how they experience your brand may well alter too.
One of the best pieces of advice anyone working on their customer experience can take on board is that you should continue listening, continue asking for feedback, and keep learning what works well. Make sure someone in your business is dedicated to looking at your customer experience regularly and if you don’t have that perfect person in your team, consider looking at external support. It’s just too important not to.
Check out my recent article on using customer experience to compete with bigger brands.