How to create an outstanding customer experience
Four things you need to do to ensure your customers are satisfied
“Customer experience” is more than just customer service – it’s all the interactions that customers have with your company, from advertising to purchasing and beyond, and how those touchpoints make them feel about your brand. Creating a satisfying customer experience (CX) is essential for customer retention. Some experts even think it might soon be more important than product or pricing in differentiating brands. Here’s how to create an experience that keeps people coming back.
1. Develop a shared customer-experience vision.
Defining your CX vision is the first step to greater customer centricity. Your vision should take inspiration from your brand (its values, value proposition and personality) and your customers (who they are, what they want to achieve, how they will feel valued). Your vision should also be concise, and easy to communicate and understand; you’ll need to get your management team and staff on board. Unlike customer service, which is only handled by certain employees, CX is a job for the whole team.
2. Design a customer-experience strategy.
Different company departments might have their own customer initiatives – your goal is to get everyone collaborating in support of your new CX vision. Start by mapping the customer journey. Ask questions like: When and how do people engage with your company (including advertising and social media)? Which personas describe your customer base, and what are their goals? What stages do people go through before deciding to purchase? What are their motivations and pain points? What are the steps in the buying process? Your map might be a few points on a line, or a web with dozens of touchpoints. Either way, it’s a great tool for identifying problems and opportunities.
3. Connect emotionally with customers.
According to a study published in Harvard Business Review in 2015, emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely than other customers to re-purchase. They’re also less likely to shop around, they’re less price-sensitive and they’re three times more likely to recommend your service or product. In 2016, market-research company Forrester shared similar findings, pointing out that the key to customer loyalty is “making customers feel appreciated, confident and respected.”
Creating a more personalized experience can help your company build connections. Simple ways to add a personal touch to customer service: use customers’ names, in person and online; offer multiple service channels (phone, email, live chat); smooth out annoyances (eliminate the need for customers to explain problems more than once, for example); recommend products based on past purchases; and thank customers for their business.
4. Collect and learn from customer data.
Each interaction your business has with a customer is an opportunity to learn more about that customer. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you keep contact information, detailed notes and purchase histories. Your staff can refer to these records when they talk to or email customers. You can also use the data to identify your best customers and design promotions just for them, such as offering early access to sales, extended hours, bonus loyalty points, free alterations and other feel-good perks – all of which can help ensure they continue to support your business going forward.