Remember those times when choices were much simpler? So was the end-to-end customer experience.
Like when I wanted fried chicken, I could go for either Store A or B.
Now, when I feel like having fried chicken, I take my best advisor (aka smartphone) out of my pocket and carry out a full-scale inquiry on where I should go to grab some chicken. And Siri will give me 100 plus options of which I have to painstakingly filter and find out the store that is the absolute best one of the lot. Oh, the entire process took me only half an hour!
There is something about choices that makes the decision-making crawl on forever. But then again, I can’t complain. It’s the age of customer experience! If the customer experience of your product or service is, then your ship is sinking.
What is Customer Experience? (CX Meaning)
The definition of customer experience can vary depending on who you ask, but generally, it refers to the overall impression a customer has of a company, its products, and its services. This includes everything from the initial contact with the company to the final purchase or use of its products or services. A positive customer experience can result in repeat business and referrals, while a negative experience can lead to customers abandoning a company altogether.
Many factors contribute to the customer experience, such as the quality of the product or service, the convenience of the purchase or delivery process, the friendliness and helpfulness of the company’s staff, and much more. Therefore, creating a positive customer experience is a complex undertaking that requires careful planning and execution.
What is End to End Customer Experience?
Now that we are on the same page about the importance of customer satisfaction let’s get into how we will achieve this. That is, how to improve the customer experience.
There are a million other ways to increase customer loyalty, yet not many companies are succeeding as expected. Do you know why?
Even after trying out all the CX strategies they can think of, many companies are experiencing higher customer churn rates and dying out. The reason behind it is simple: they are isolating the touchpoints and associated experiences a customer will have with the business and treating them separately.
As a result, they are losing out on the view of the big picture. All those touchpoints and experiences at each stage are reflected in a customer at the end. That is what this term means: end-to-end customer experience. In other words, the end-to-end customer experience is the immersive customer journey from thoughts to the actual purchase of the products.
Don’t believe that your job ends there. As part of top-notch end-to-end CX, you must cement the relationship with after-sales support, follow-ups, and feedback.
It is only natural that you would turn to get help. Your first option will be the Internet, which is exploding with all tricks and strategies to make the end-to-end customer experience successful. However, half of them are not feasible when brought under a reality check.
How Do You Implement an Impeccable End-to-End Customer Experience? (Examples Included)
No pixie dust or flicking wand will come to the rescue. So it is here we will have to discuss 8 practical tips to bring in an end-to-end customer experience and exceed customer expectations.
1. The End and the Beginning
When crafting brilliant and fool-proof strategies for customer experience management, you should know where to begin. The reality is that the customer journey begins with the customer thinking about purchasing a product and ends long after they leave your shop.
Stage 1: The Search. Everybody goes online and searches for reviews and comments before making an actual purchase. Be it a salon visit, dinner outside, or buying a mobile phone, customers of this age like to make an informed decision since all you need to know is a click away.
You should start by dealing with these reviews and resolving all the complaints that are there. SurveySparrow’s Case Management ticketing feature is a great tool to help you stay out of negative feedback loops and present yourself as a reliable and consumer-centric organization. You can sign up to try it for free.
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Stage 2: The Visit. Be present when your customers are visiting your website. If you don’t have the manpower to proactively offer support, at least do so with the aid of a chatbot. (If you think creating a chatbot is too techie for your taste, here’s a 7 step guide to create chatbots in 10 minutes!)
Stage 3: The Follow-Up. Do not abandon your customers after they have made the purchase. Check on your customers to see how well the product is performing for them. If they haven’t tried it yet, guide the customer to use it to the maximum potential, and try to resolve any issues that crop up as soon as possible.
Guess what Johnnie Walker in Brazil did when the law effectively reduced the acceptable amount of alcohol level in the blood to zero behind the wheel? They started offering taxi rides at a significantly lower rate to facilitate the customer’s return journey from the bar. These taxi rides ensured that the customers wouldn’t be in trouble and the bar wouldn’t lose its customers who hate breaking laws.
2. Data is Pure Gold
If you want to satisfy the customers, you need to provide just what they are looking for, right? You need to know the buying behaviors of your target audience and identify the trends that could sway your customers.
This information can be used to captivate your customers with compelling, personalized shopping experiences. It includes promotions, product recommendations, and other services that would make in-store shopping more interesting.
Instead of assuming and implementing costly schemes to work on hunches, it is better if we have solid data from your customer feedback surveys to work with. You must make data profiles on them and save them for future reference.
To truly welcome the customers, you have to know who your customers are. It is advisable for you to create customer personas, finding similarities and differences among your customers.
This would make the planning and execution levels easier. They just have to focus on catering to different personas that are few in number rather than the entire group.
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3. From Thinking to Buying
77% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital media.
Often your website is the first touchpoint for your customers. So create an efficient website that is elegant and welcoming. The design should make it easy to book an appointment, order a product or service, or sign up for other services such as newsletters or emails.
Customers want what you are selling, or they wouldn’t be seeking you out! Ensure your server is strong enough to support medium to high data traffic.
Your website should ideally be mobile-friendly, or you could risk losing a sale or, worse, a loyal customer. The end-to-end customer experience begins with the website, and it is very important that it goes right. The first impression is, after all, the best impression.
Other than your official websites, be sure to leave a good image on other reviewing sites and social media for the customer to find.
4. Cross-Selling is a Win-Win
It is possible and feasible for you to boost sales with cross-selling techniques that encourage the customer to have a higher level of customer experience and bless your bank account.
But this one is difficult to execute well if you lack empathy. You have to know which product of yours complements another and which products would do well if combined, like a movie and popcorn.
You are convincing the customers to buy new products; if done right, it would invite more sales. It also helps by increasing sales per visit.
On the other hand, the customer would feel like her experience with the product can now be completed with all the right accessories to go along with it.
For example, when you are buying cameras, they often sell it along with one more lens. The customer feels like this is a win since he doesn’t have to purchase separately.
5. Empathetic and Happy Employees
The importance and the urgency to have efficient, contented, and empathetic employees can never be expressed enough.
You should make sure that the work environment is not toxic towards anybody and that the employees are happy and proud of your company.
Customers observe a lot, and they can easily sense when something is not very right with the employees. The employees might even knowingly damage your reputation, and you cannot encounter it properly every single time.
In the 1980s, when an employee of Johnson & Johnson medicines tampered with Tylenol, they had to recall everything back from all over, and they were re-established only after introducing tamper-free coverage. Though the brave and quick response saved Johnson and Johnson’s brand reputation, they suffered a huge loss.
Now, while I wouldn’t dare say that every angry employee would turn into a sociopath, keep in mind that the satisfaction of the employees is as important as the customers.
The employees should also be empathetic. Only then would they be able to understand and act upon the demands and needs of the customer without getting irritated?
6. Omnipotent You!
To deliver the interactive and multi-faceted customer-driven experience that the customers expect, you have to rethink and reimagine the channels and platforms through which you can connect with your customers.
To do that, you have to start going beyond standard call center metrics like the frequency and duration of those calls.
Proactivity is the key here to ensure an end-to-end customer experience. Responding when a customer makes contact is completely different from when you initiate a conversation after seeing a tweet or Facebook post in which the customer is complaining about the company or the product or service.
And do you know what that difference is? You would see it in the improvements in customer satisfaction, brand image, and bottom-line sales.
Customers use multi-channels to communicate with companies. It is critical for your employees to find a way to communicate seamlessly on all these platforms using a solution like a small business VoIP system. The quick and efficient responses would cater for a better end to end customer experience.
7. Always Follow Up
Don’t be shy when it comes to contacting your customers. Send a thank you note or a personalized reminder.
For example, online shopping giants like Amazon often send personalized discounts when they sense inactivity in your account. They would also remind you of the products you have left in the cart without buying and asks you the reason for not buying it. Politely, of course!
Many companies use live chat or chatbots to keep the conversation going. The only thing to be taken care of is how you are doing it. You should not spam the customer and smother them in love. Be polite and sensible while emailing customers.
Always collect feedback and encourage them to fill out these surveys. It would definitely help you to know if what you are doing is right and when you are not.
Plan and alter your strategies accordingly, leading to customer satisfaction. Make sure all the customer touch points are well organized and working as per the plan so that you achieve an end-to-end customer experience.
8. Fortify CRM
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) helps you manage all your company’s interactions and relationships with your customers and potential customers.
To better explain this, I will tell you an example of how CRM shouldn’t be.
A lady’s father died in December 2009, and she contacted Verizon to cancel his account. They refused to cancel the account without his PIN number. She sent them the death certificate of his father, and yet they billed her till March 2010. Only after she contacted the Consumer’s Edge column of the St. Petersburg Times Verizon took action and refund her money.
Customer relationship managers are ideally the final touchpoint in a customer’s journey and a very important one too. After all, CRM is about dealing with doubtful and worried customers and not happy-excited-to-shop customers.
From putting on hold for a longer time to explaining the concerns to different people, there are a lot more in the store waiting to annoy the already anxious and confused customer. The key lies in turning negatives into positives.
So when you are hiring people for customer relations, give more importance to their values rather than skills. Empathetic and polite employees can handle all these situations effectively without ruining your image
9. Identifying Customer Contact Points is Key
Your customers can communicate with you via various sources or contact points. These contact points could be the internet, help lines, in-person product support, kiosks, social media, advertisements or even financial assistance. It could literally be any means through which the customer interacts with your organization.
So it is crucial to identify every contact point that you have with your customer, see if they are satisfied with the service offered and improve the experience provided at each point.
Still not convinced? Hear this out.
Let’s say you have a cheese deli in your locality that offers decent-quality cheese at a reasonable price. But the attendants at this place are lazy and show the least interest in catering to your needs. Would you care to go there again? No! You would be put off! So would be many other customers like you. This would eventually lead to a decline in the business.
See how ignoring a contact point adversely affects a business. Recognizing and enhancing customer contact points can go a long way in delivering a great end-to-end customer experience.
10. Map Customer Journey
Customer journey denotes every step of the entire path traveled by a customer, from when he/she became aware of your brand to when he/she purchases a product from you.
Map the customer journey, and create visual representations that narrate the detailed story of your customer’s journey with your organization.
By doing so, you can find the important paths of your customer’s course and understand him/her better. Then you can spread the knowledge throughout your organization which in turn helps you formulate ways to serve your customers better, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and reducing churn rates.
Well, mapping the journey and taking effective steps may turn out to be labor and time-consuming. But trust me, in the long run, to provide an effective end-to-end customer experience, you are going to reap sweet rewards!
11. Bolster your Customer Experience Ecosystem
The Customer Experience Ecosystem is essentially the network of relations from every aspect of a company that defines the quality of customer experience.
These factors are closely related to customer experience and does create an impact on it.
Balancing these delicate points is imperative to bring in an end-to-end customer experience. Normally, the CX Ecosystem is driven by:
- Customers: No doubt, customer is the most important element of your ecosystem. Customers form the crux of your business and it is important that CX ecosystem operations rely more on the customer expectations. You should be a company that changes to exceed customer expectations rather than the one which forces them to go by your ways.
- Employees: Your employees respond to customer requirements. So you should see to it that your employees are well-informed and they leverage the tools and information to serve the target audience in the best possible ways.
- Software Environment: Make sure you have a robust operating environment. Because every other element – including your customers and employees – depend on it to run their applications. Ill-matched technology will lead to slow, disastrous workflows.
Why Focus on Customer Experience?
- One: Customers no longer buy products on impulse. They research, they read, and they buy. So they can’t be fooled by edited and exaggerated advertisements anymore. Their best friend-in-the-pocket would rat you out.
- Two: It is time for you to admit the fact that it is the customers and their demands that rule the world. But it is extremely challenging to understand what your audience really wants, to keep up with your customer’s expectations. And also to maintain an uninterrupted dialogue to ensure you meet all the changing customer needs.
- Three: It is happy customers that maketh loyal customers. So you need to work toward enhancing customer experiences with every transaction that is happening.
- Consumers have numerous choices today and, more than ever, modes to reach them. In such an intriguingly competitive environment, simple and amalgamated solutions rather than long, fragmented ones will win the loyalty of time-pressed customers.
- Four: An end-to-end customer experience incorporates each and every aspect of the company’s offering. The distinctive features of customer care, advertising, ease of use, reliability, product, and services, and also packaging play vital roles in shaping the image of the company.
Here’s an example: After adopting a consumer-centric approach to their company, Alliant Energy decreased 50% of regulatory complaints over the years and increased their Net Promoter Score by 88%.
You have to step up your game or be ready to be left behind.
Not all of your customers can be satisfied customers, and not all satisfied customers turn out to be loyal customers.
Instead of treating the touch points in a customer journey separately, you should try and deal with them as one. It would give you a better edge in planning your strategies. Moreover, insightful decisions and an empathetic approach promise an end to end customer satisfaction.
It doesn’t mean there will be no hiccups on the way, but you will be able to handle it wisely if you follow these practical tips and deliver an end-to-end customer experience that will wow your customers at every stage.