Customers are one of, if not THE most important factor in a business. And so is their experience.
The old adage “the customer is always right” is there for a reason, whether you like it or not. A customer can choose to invest their time, money and effort into your business. Or they can go with your competitor and leave you in the cold; I think we both know which one we’d all choose! If the customer is king, then so must be their experience when connecting with your company. As a consumer yourself, you’ve probably visited poor websites with confusing layouts, or been unable to find contact details, or had issues you were unable to resolve. The frustration this brings is exactly the reason the customer experience (CX) journey is incredibly important in the landscape of modern marketing. By next year, it’s expected that CX will be the main brand differentiator. That’s a scary prospect if your CX journey is at the bottom of your to-do list.
That said, it’s still proving difficult for brands to embrace. It’s understandable the hard time they’re having, it’s really not that easy to figure out! In today’s marketplace, no matter the industry, customers want everything, at once. It has to be personal, timely, effortless and rewarding with interaction being key. Thanks to the ever popular and increasing use of mobile devices, we’re more connected than ever. For example, if customer #28394 wants to know where their delivery is at 11.37pm on a Saturday night, they want their question answering at 11.38pm!
With this in mind, you might be asking how it’s possible to improve the customer experience. Let’s have a look:
Figure out your target audience
If you don’t know your customers, then how could you possibly understand their wants and needs? By working out their pain points in the process, you can fix them to provide a smooth CX journey. Creating personas for your customers is a good way to do this. A persona helps us to imagine our customers and relate to them on the other, human, side which can really add value to your brand. You can create several personas for your various customers, and what their expectations are. This will clarify how you can deliver on those.
We mentioned this earlier, about providing swift and efficient customer care. By being available when they need you, customers will see the time you’re investing in them. Logistically this might not be possible for you to answer every single enquiry that comes in, so let technology do the legwork. Chatbots on your website are ideal for providing quick answers and resolutions which may stop customers from losing interest in your brand. Apparently our online attention span is only 8 seconds (!), so if you don’t give your customers what they want, when they want it, they’re going to go elsewhere.
Use social media
Social media can be tough to figure out and use to its fullest potential for your brand, but it’s a great opportunity to connect with your customers. Through social media channels, you can grow relationships and build a brand image that will only benefit your CX. Do this in a way that sits well with you; don’t try and fit a round peg in a square hole. A recent index found that consumers want to be engaged and entertained before they buy. They will actively unfollow brands with poor customer service or too much promo. So, have fun, get creative and enjoy being on social media for all the benefits it can bring.
We don’t mean it in the God-like sense, but with your channels. The Harvard Business Review found that 73% of shoppers use multiple channels to complete a purchase. What that means is letting your customers engage with you through various channels. This also means that there’s nowhere to hide. If your Facebook isn’t branded in the same was as your website, it doesn’t give off a good message. Branding is key across multiple channels so bear that in mind. With e-commerce in mind, allow your customers to make purchases both on desktop and mobile devices. And let them buy in-store, online and through social media.
Develop a CEM
Customer Experience Management, or CEM, is a programme where you can track every move your customer makes in their journey with your brand. With CEM’s, you have the ability to provide a full-circled, hands-on customer experience from start to finish. You can control and design customer interactions and make sure your brand is at the forefront of their minds. An example is this: you visit a website and are vaguely interested in the process. You download a free ebook but never read it. The following day you get an email asking your thoughts on the book. And the next week you get an email suggesting other resources you might like. And so on, and so forth.
Reward your Customers
With e-books in mind, why not offer your loyal customers something for free. FOR FREE! I hear you cry. Yes, for free. Reward customer engagements with freebies such as ebooks, guides or discounts. These will cost you nothing but potentially earn you a lot. Showing your appreciation can enhance CX and strengthen brand loyalty and you can tailor these to suit you. Be exclusive with offering some customers an offer, highlight their reviews and testimonials and thank them openly on social media.
Track your progress
There’s no point doing all this if you’re not tracking the progress of these customer experience changes you’re making. Keep an eye on your performance so you know exactly where you stand, what is working/not working, and how you can improve on this. There are many ways you can do this. Use insights and analytics from your channels to make reports and quantify the data. On the opposite end of the scale, use surveys to get feedback from customers directly. Whatever suits you and your business.
Hopefully you’ve now see how vital a role customer experience plays in your business. By putting your customer at the centre of everything, it can have a positive knock-on effect in other areas of your business too. Happy customers make happy staff and if they’re actively involved with the CX then they’ll have job satisfaction too.
If you have any questions and want to have a chat, human to human, then give us a ring on 01427 808870