Having a solid brand name amongst customers is one of the biggest dreams of brands around the world and most businesses spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to be on the top of their customer’s minds. While advertisements and relentless marketing campaigns will always be one of the ways to achieve it, companies realize that giving the ultimate experience to one’s customers can put them in an altogether different league. The kind of experience a customer has with your brand will be a huge reason for why they want to remain with you or not. The plenty of choices that a customer has today makes it even more challenging to pique and retain the customer’s interest.
With all that said, companies are still struggling to understand the pulse of customers and how to leverage it. There are a lot of things that a company does which forms a part of customer experience. Of course, a large part of it is associated with your customer service team’s performance but providing a good customer experience platform is much more than that. It starts from as simple as decreasing the load time, writing good copy on the website, hassle-free payment process and so on. Apart from having a dedicated customer service team, there is the social media bandwagon that you need to get into and perfect conversations and provide good experiences there as well.
What is meant by Customer Experience (CX)?
It can be defined as the total of interactions that a customer has with your brand over their entire lifecycle. It has been time and again declared that customers who have had a good experience with a brand will be willing to purchase from you again. If a business wants the customer who will stick with them and even go out of their way to spread a good word about them, you need to give them a kick-ass experience.
Many people confuse customer service with customer experience. For example, if you are hiring a caretaker to cook, if their work ethic is top class and they make sure that they use the best ingredients to create a mélange of recipes that satisfy your taste buds, then it is good customer service. But if they go out of their way to make sure that along with the spread there is also a recommendation of wine with your favorite music playing in the background, now that is customer experience. Isn’t it easy to understand the difference between the two now?
Benefits of creating a customer experience strategy
Understanding the needs of your customer will help you in thinking in terms of their perspective. It will give you the added advantage of finding innovative ways to satisfy your customer. Without knowing what your customers want, it is impossible to deliver a stellar experience, but you can make sure that you cater to almost all their needs without having to do anything out of the ordinary. The needs, expectations, pain points, values, struggles and more of the customer should be the heart of your strategy to improve the customer experience. Here are some of the benefits associated with creating a customer experience strategy.
1. Helps you identify service issues
When you create a customer experience map, you travel through each of the customer interaction touchpoints that a customer will access too, this makes it possible for you to identify areas that need betterment. Finding such service issues would have never otherwise happened if you hadn’t gone out of your way to create a customer service map. In fact, the only other way for you to have found out about inadequacies in the service you provide is by directly asking your customer in the form of surveys. It might even help you weed out the problem of lack of communication between your employees.
2. Reduces cost and drives sales
There is a huge advantage that comes as a result of creating customer service maps to the customer since you identify areas where processes can be optimized. The optimization process involved not only reduces the time taken for the average customer in accessing your service and purchasing them but also reduces cost in a big way. When the sales cycle is reduced significantly, the reduction in costs is significant which means the buying experience with you is better as well.
3. Improves customer experiences
The fact that you take the time to improve your customer’s experience using tools, strategies and other major changes will eventually produce results. This will also create a culture where you are proactively looking for methods to up the ante by innovating and following good practices. You can expect these changes to snowball into big benefits that will eventually increase customer loyalty.
4. Increase in sales
Since the average sales cycle increases tremendously because of implementing a customer experience strategy, you can expect more sales because you have satisfied the end customer who sees a better experience with you than when dealing with your competitors. With a little more effort on the marketing side, you can increase the sales tremendously and since you have your entire system sorted for any untoward eventualities, you would even be able to attract more work.
5. Increases brand value
When you can provide unique customer experiences and if it is something that your competitors have not been able to provide, it can put you in a unique position where you are well sought out for. If this experience can be extrapolated consistently across all channels, then it becomes your USP which you can leverage to attract newer clients and keeping your existing clients pay for your continued service.
9 Steps to create a killer customer experience strategy
It is proven without a doubt that companies which concentrate on creating a foolproof customer experience strategy reduce customer churn, increase their revenues and attract more customers due to word of mouth. That said, here’s how to go about creating a customer experience strategy to elevate your brand to a fandom.
Step #1: Get feedback in real-time from your customers
Some of the greatest minds in the world have emphasized the importance of ‘asking’ when it comes to relationships, life, and business. The same applies to your relationship with your customers as well. Ask for feedback from your customers, during every stage of the interaction. Often people will usually give you good ratings unless you do something excruciatingly wrong.
There are so many ways for you to get feedback from your customers, either through emails, cold calls, surveys and more. The entire feedback process can be automated as well so that the only work of the business would be to analyze the responses and work on improving based on the feedback.
Step #2: Regularly take feedback from your employees
Employee feedback shouldn’t just talk about how they fared in the previous year. Your employees know more than anybody on how your customers interact with your business since they are present at each customer interaction point. Instead of having annual employee feedback, make sure you take continuous feedback for your employees where you can ask questions that are related to the customer experience as well. Allow them a free hand where they can take executive decisions as well as offer ideas that will benefit the customer. Get the services of a project management software where you can track down all the activities that the employees do, this will not only help you to create processes but also look for any leaks in the way work is done.
Step #3: Create a connection for your customers with the brand
It is no surprise that we human beings are a species which acts based on emotions. When was the last time, you, the reader, took a pragmatic life decision based on facts alone? Difficult to remember one right? That’s because most of the actions we commit to have some sort of emotional quotient. Research says that the decision of a customer to shop with your brand is based on how emotionally they are connected to it.
A brand becomes compelling when they offer something extraordinary to the customer in terms of a myriad of emotions. It could be based on how proud you feel when you buy a rare product, or the features that are associated with it which makes you excited and many more such emotions. Customers who are emotionally connected to the brand do not care about the other options that are available and are more open to buying newly released products than new customers.
Step #4: Work with influencers
There is so much that the right influencer can do to your brand by helping you gain visibility in social media channels where they have a lot of influence. Not only can they make your brand known, but also help drive engagement which will, in turn, result in more sales. One advice we would give you is to be careful with finding the influencers as not everyone is going to be perfect for you. With all that said, there is the case of fake influencers as well who inflate the number of followers and fake engagement rates. You don’t want to get into that.
Find if the influencer is in the same niche as you and if they share value that their followers genuinely care about. Do they have the same principles as you when it comes to sharing knowledge and in terms of business. If you don’t have the budget for big influencers, you can always hire micro-influencers who are usually part of a small niche but with commendable engagement and follower rate.
Step #5: Give proper training to your employees
Apart from using technology to the hilt, you should also ensure that employees are given proper guidance on how to use it as well as interact with customers. A good training program will give a lot of clarity to the employees making it easy for them to treat customers in the right way. Have a program where you find out all the ways in which you can give a better training for your customers while also ensuring that there is individual attention given to your employees if they are found lacking in a specific area of work.
Remember that a training program for your employees is a necessary investment that can make a lot of difference to the outcome of your customer’s experience. In fact, the amount of training that you give to your employees is directly proportional to your customer’s experience.
Step #6: Simplify processes
No one wants to work with a business that has complex steps to get things done. These days, everyone likes to accomplish tasks at the click of a button and it is a fair expectation as well. If they are looking for a product, they want to find it with a simple step and complete the purchase instantly without having to go through a myriad of instructions which only sucks their time and keeps things complicated.
The ability to keep things simple will be an advantage for both offline and online businesses. Make sure you create guidelines in the form of FAQs or use chatbots that will guide your users to follow the correct steps. If you can use technology to reduce complicated processes, as well as provide training to your employees to de-escalate any kind of situation, then you are gold.
Step #7: Use multiple channels to provide a consistent experience
No matter where your customers come from, they should experience the same kind of treatment so that there is no confusion in the future when availing your services. While you might want to innovate when it comes to different channels, make sure that the experience is consistent across all platforms. Use customer satisfaction tools to measure how your customers feel at each touchpoint.
It is essential that you provide high-quality customer service at all channels as a bad experience can make them seek greener pastures. The experience that your customers have with you should make them come back to you again and again. In fact, their experience should be as minimal as possible and you should not ask for too much effort from them.
Step #8: Educate your customers
Another aspect where a lot of businesses falter is when they assume that the customers know everything about their products, the accompanying features and so on. You couldn’t be more wrong! Customers need to be educated about what you offer and how they can use your services, even after they purchase from you. Also, educating your customers makes them trust you, your brand, the services, and products that you sell.
To make people aware of your business, one of the best ways to gain positive attention is to give knowledge away for free. This is one of the most popular methods that is used by marketers around the world where they gain the trust of their target market by offering free knowledge after which they offer their premium services at a cost. When you become a trusted source of information, most of the people who are searching for the service you offer will come towards you.
Step #9: Measure customer experience
You will never know if you have made improvements in the customer service front if you don’t measure it. One of the best customer service metrics that you can use is Net Promoter Score (NPS) where you can easily gauge what your customers have in mind with a simple question. The question that NPS uses is-“How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend?’, it is measured on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.
Not only is it easy to implement for the business, but it is extremely simple for the customer to respond as well. A lot of big companies take advantage of the benefits of NPS by using them regularly. If your NPS number gradually increases, it is a measure of the results that are being reaped thanks to your customer experience strategy, but if the number reduces, then you need to look for ways to satisfy your customers more.
If your effort towards providing a great customer experience pays off, you can find that your customers will be more than happy to purchase more from you, refer your business to their friends and family and so on. Even your potential customers will be cajoled by your satisfied customers to partner with you. Another point to note is that this an ongoing process and you should make sure that there is a long-term plan associated with all the changes that you intend to make happen as a part of this.
Remember that there is a lot riding on providing a kick-ass customer experience failing which your business might be staring at the abyss- and it is not a good position to be in. Build a consistent brand with principles that will make your customers love being associated with you.