Customer Experience is the new Marketing
Attracting and retaining customers has significantly evolved. Long gone are the days when you could put an ad out in the paper and people would just show up. Consumers expect more from businesses with which they choose to transact—which means that brands with exceptional customer experience will win over businesses that only focus on customer service.
Customer service, customer experience: what’s the difference?
Customer service is a response initiated after a customer comes into contact with your business. Essentially, customer service is reactive rather than proactive.
On the other hand, customer experience is the sum of all interactions and touchpoints between your brand and consumers. It includes anything from your website to in-person sales representatives, your social media, your ads and all other communication channels open to those that interact with your brand. Customer experience isn’t limited to customer service or customer care representatives. It concerns all employees of a company and should be based on values that transcend from management to all other employees.
Great customer experience can be the difference between businesses that are sinking and those that are generating more leads, more sales, and higher customer satisfaction.
Now that we’ve covered some basics, here are 7 simple ways to boost your business’s customer experience at little or no cost:
1. Get to know your Customers
All your visitors have needs and wants. Rather, what I should say is that all humans have needs and wants. It’s a fact of life, but do you really know your customers? Have you done your market research? Do you gather data from your existing clients? Do you have one on one conversations with your best and worst customers?
If you haven’t done either of those things, don’t assume that you know what your target market wants or needs!
Now, I want to reassure you, it’s never too late to start learning about your prospects and clients.
I know that “gathering data” sounds like a strenuous job your team will want to put off for months. As a counter to that, I find that one of the simplest ways to get started is to survey your customers and people that follow your brand. Thus, I suggest publishing a short survey to your Facebook page or to send a survey by email to your customers after they’ve completed a purchase.
As an incentive to complete your survey, offer participants a small discount that can be applied on their next purchase. Not only will this help you collect valued information but it will help you generate repeat purchases.
Here are a few sample questions that can help you get to know your customers and how they feel about your brand:
- Which product would you improve?
- How would you improve X product or service?
- Why did you choose to buy X product or service from us?
- When you think of our brand, what first comes to mind?
- How would you describe your last encounter with our brand? Was it positive?
Knowing your customers allows you to stay relevant to them. Think about the information being shared on your company blog or on social. Are you posting things that actually interest or help or entertain your visitors?
Having a customer-centric approach to business is definitely the way to go, and you should do that right now! Your products and services should be based on your customers’ needs rather than the other way around. If you structure your business around your customers then you reduce the overall quantity of complaints, a subject which I’ll come back to shortly.
2. Offer Multiple Communication Channels
Consumers no longer want to take time out of their day to pick up the phone. In fact, customer satisfaction levels for phone contacts have significantly dropped over the last decade. According to the eDigital Customer Service Benchmark report, only 44% of consumers claim to be satisfied when calling a business; Whereas, 73% of consumers are satisfied with the outcome of live chat conversations with businesses.
Customers expect to be able to reach your business through the channel that is most convenient to them. Giving consumers the option to choose from a variety of channels such as, phone, email, live chat, and social significantly increases the chances that a customer will contact you if they have any concerns about your products or services. Having multiple channels reduces friction along the consumer buyer journey. Further, paying attention to inquiries from your visitors will help you identify specific aspects of your website or digital platform that need to be improved. Small changes can make a big difference.
For example, by adding live chat to their communication channels, CRM provider HubSpot was able to attract 20% more qualified leads…
20%! Let that sink in.
Get to know your customers and connect with them on platforms where they spend a lot of their time. Create content that is native to each platform to help you capture the attention of potential customers all while increasing top of mind awareness. Remember that your content should be varied and fulfill one of these purposes: to educate, to entertain, to inspire, or to convince.
3. Optimize all Touchpoints
Improving on your communication channels also means taking the time to plan interactions between consumers and your brand. Each interaction is known as a touchpoint and has the potential to leave a good or bad impression of your brand with the consumer.
Before you start trying to optimize any customer touchpoint you can think of, the first step should be to map out your customer journey. Doing so will help you identify each touchpoint and establish which departments interact with your visitors at each stage of the journey.
The goal of defining and optimizing your touchpoints is to help customers flow through the customer journey with little or no friction. The less friction, the easier it is for you to convert visitors into customers. For an example of what your customer value journey should look like, here’s one of our favorites from the experts over at Digital Marketer: Value Journey.
Mapping out your customer journey and touchpoints will help you identify gaps where more touch points need to be added. Creating more touch points can be as simple as sending an automated email once a visitor completes a purchase or adding a live chat to a specific page of your website. If you’re sending out a physical product, including a letter for the client in the box to thank them for their purchase is also a great form of contact with the customer which can reinforce the customer’s decision to transact with your business.
While you may have contact with your visitors in person, online and/or through the mail, it’s crucial that all of your channels integrate seamlessly. Customers should receive the same quality of service from each employee which they come into contact with regardless of the employee’s role in your business. Remember, consistency is key!
4. Great Customer Experience Starts With Great Employee Experience
Keeping customer experience consistent throughout every department of your business is challenging, but necessary to keep customer satisfaction high.
Happy employees make for happy customers!
Your entire organization should be on-board with making sure that all contacts with the client showcase your brand in a positive light and are valuable to the client. Incentivize your employees to treat customers with respect and in a way that is aligned with your core business values. For a deeper understanding of how to do so, I recommend that you look up customer experience expert, Shep Hyken.
5. Listen to Clients That Complain
We’ve all received that dreaded phone call or email from a client telling us that something went wrong with our product or service. It happens. Customers complain. But it’s what you do about these complaints that sets your business apart.
When receiving negative feedback from a client, whether by phone, online reviews or other digital means, take the time to resolve the issue. No one wants to deal with unhappy customers but the truth is that these customers care enough about your product or your business to tell you what’s wrong about it. So, take some time to listen to them and make changes to your business so that both you and the customer are satisfied.
Many businesses are terrified of negative reviews. So much so, that they shirk from replying to those complaints. Here’s some friendly advice: respond to each comment and/or review regardless of whether they are positive or negative. When you do have a negative review, it’s best to respond to the person and contact them privately to resolve the situation. Replying shows your customers and potential customers that you’re listening to their concerns. Further, replying shows that you value your customers’ business. Embrace negative reviews, no one is perfect.
6. Truly care for Your Customers
As I just mentioned, caring for your customer can be demonstrated by replying to reviews and comments about your business. Beyond reviews, your entire team must show empathy when engaging with customers regardless of the channel being used. Customers want to transact with businesses that they feel are listening to them and that they can trust. Hense, being solution-oriented when speaking to customers will also help you get on their good side.
7. Give Your Team the Tools to Succeed
I don’t mean that you should purchase every software available out there but it’s always a good idea to evaluate the need for tools that have the potential to save your team a whole lot of time. For example, CRM softwares are great to keep track of prospects and customers. They help keep your entire team on the same page in regards to the client by ensuring that customers pick up where they left off, thus increasing overall customer satisfaction. By investing in a CRM, you’ll simplify the work for your team in addition to facilitating the flow of information from one department to another.
Time is running out for businesses whom’s departments work individually. Sure, that may seem a little harsh… But businesses must strive to achieve symbiosis in order to achieve larger company-wide objectives and stand out as leaders in customer experience.
- Get to know your customers personally.
- Communication is a two-way street. Provide multiple communication channels so that your customers can contact you on their own terms.
- Simplify your customer’s life by mapping out their customer journey and optimizing each touchpoint.
- Customers that complain are your friends. They complain because they care enough about your brand to want to make things right. Embrace both positive and negative feedback from your customers and see these as an opportunity to improve your business.
- Share your values and your vision with your team. Great customer experience starts from the top and trickles down to all employees. Remember: great employee satisfaction makes for great customer satisfaction.
- Be empathetic with your customers. Your brand should be human at all times and strive to provide value to visitors.
- Integrate all business departments in a way that they work together to achieve company-wide goals.
- Give your team a helping hand. Invest in tools that can help your team do quality work. Implementing new tools can be seen as a hassle at first, but after having the proper training to use the tools, your team will see the benefit of using them. Take the time to research tools, test them through demos and evaluate the value that they can bring to your team.
Great customer experience can be achieved with a relatively small budget. It’s within reach of even the smallest businesses out there. Brands that take the time to get to know their customers and make sure that every contact with consumers is positive and value-driven have the potential to differentiate their brands from others. Differentiating your brand from others may be the difference between doubling or tripling your sales this year.
For more information on how your business can integrate live conversations to your customer experience mix, contact our team through the chat bubble in the bottom left corner. We’re available to give you more details on how conversational marketing can help you enhance customer experience and achieve your business objectives.