Remember those times when choices were much simpler?
Like the times when I wanted to have fried chicken, I could go for either Store A or B.
Now when I feel like having fried chicken, I take my bestest advisor (aka smartphone) out of the 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 make the decision-making crawl forever. But then again, I can’t complain. It’s the age of customer empowerment! The customer demands you serve. The customer doesn’t like your products? Innovate or Die.
Why Focus on Customer Experience?
Customers no longer buy products on an impulse. They research, they read and they buy. They can’t be fooled with edited and exaggerated advertisements anymore. Their best friend-in-the-pocket would rat you out. It is time for you to admit the fact that it is the customers and their demands that rule the world.
It is extremely challenging to understand what your audience really want, to keep up with your customers’ expectations and also to maintain an uninterrupted dialogue to ensure you meet all the changing customer needs.
You need to work toward enhancing customer experiences with every transaction that is happening. It is the happy customers that maketh loyal customers. 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 the time-pressed customers.
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 plays vital roles in shaping the image of the company.
You have to step up your game to be ready to be left behind. Alliant energy decreased 50% of regulatory complaints over the years, enjoying the Net Promoter Score by 88%, after adopting a consumer-centric approach to their company.
How do you Implement an Impeccable 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 are going to achieve this. That is how to improve the customer experience. And 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 strategies, many companies are experiencing higher customer churn rates and dying out. The reason behind it is that they are isolating the touchpoints and associated experiences a customer will have with the business and treating them separately. They are losing out the view of the big picture. It is all those touchpoints and experiences at each stage that gets reflected in a customer at the end. There is a term for it, end to end customer experience.
It is the immersive customer journey from thoughts to the actual purchase of the products. Do not be so gullible and believe that your job ended there. You have to cement the relationship with after-sales support and follow-ups and feedbacks. It is only natural that you would turn to get help. And your first option will be Internet which is exploding with all tricks and strategies to make the end to end customer experience a glowing success. However half of them are not feasible when brought under reality check.
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 you are crafting brilliant and fool-proof strategies aiming for customer experience management, you should know from where, to begin with. The reality is that the customer journey begins with the customer thinking to purchase a product and ends long after they leave your shop.
Everybody goes online and searches for reviews and comments before making the actual purchase. Be it a salon visit or dinner outside or buying a mobile phone, the customers of this age would like to make an informed decision since all that you need to know is a click away. You should start by dealing with these reviews and resolving all the complaints that are there. Stay out of negative feedback loops. Present yourself as a reliable and consumer-centric organization.
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!)
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 crops up as soon as possible.
Guess what Johnie 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 as well as the bar doesn’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 were 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 it for future references.
To truly welcome the customers, you have to know who your customers are. It is most advisable for you to create customer personas, finding similarities and differences existing amongst your customers. It would make the planning and execution levels take a load off. They just have to focus on catering different personas that are few in number, rather than the entire group.
3. From Thinking to Buying
77% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital media. Often your website would be the first touchpoint for your customers. 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! Make sure 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 is beginning from 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 in 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 as well as bless your money bags. But this one is a bit hard to execute well if you are short of empathy. You have to know which product of yours compliments another as well as which products would do well if combined together, like a movie and a popcorn.
You are convincing the customers to new products and if done right it would invite a lot more sales. It also helps by increasing sales per visit. The customer, on the other hand, would feel like her experience with the product can now be completed with all the right accessories to go along with it. When you are buying cameras, they would often sell it along with one more lens. The customer would feel like a win since he doesn’t have to purchase separately.
5. Empathetic and Happy Employees
The importance and the criticality 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 damage your reputation knowingly 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 a tamper-free coverage. Though the brave and quick response saved the 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 they would 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 back when a customer makes contact is completely different from the perspective when it is you who is initiating 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 using multi-channels to communicate with companies. It is critical for your employees to find a way to communicate seamlessly on all these platforms. 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. Online shopping giants such as Amazon often sends 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 the customers.
Always collect feedbacks 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 touchpoints 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 helps you to manage all your company’s interactions and relationships with your customers as well as the 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 sends them the death certificate of his father and yet they billed her till March of 2010. It was only after she contacted Consumer’s Edge column of the St. Petersburg Times that Verizon took action and refunded her money.
They are ideally the final touchpoint in a customer’s journey and a very important one too. CRM is about dealing doubtful and worried customers and not the 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’ve a cheese deli in your locality which offers decent quality cheese at a reasonable price. But the attendants at this place are lazy and shows 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 the customer contact points and enhancing them 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 travelled by a customer, from the instance he/she became aware of your brand to the moment he/she purchases a product from you. Map the customer journey, create visual representations that narrate to you the detailed story of the journey your customer has with your organization.
By doing so, you can find the important paths of your customer’s course, understand him/her better, 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
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 doubts, 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 workflow.
Not all of your customers can be satisfied customers and not all satisfied customers turn out to be loyal customers. Instead of treating the touchpoints in a customer journey separately, you should try and deal with it as one. It would give you a better edge to plan your strategies. Insightful decisions and empathetic approach could promise an end to end customer satisfaction. It doesn’t mean there would 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.