There is no better time to start thinking about customer experience (CX). CX needs to be well thought out and built with intention. Customers have more power than ever and they are willing to switch brands based on one bad experience. The good news is customers are also willing to pay more for a better experience. So develop a plan and aim to delight.
What is customer experience? It basically describes all of the interactions your customers have with your business, every touch point, every aspect, every emotion. It has the potential to deliver true impact.
Customer experience is not customer service. For example, let’s say you call a restaurant for a reservation and the person on the phone is friendly and helpful. They even get you a great table on a Friday night. That’s good customer service. However, if you are seated with no delay, the staff provide seamless, intuitive service start to finish, the sommelier suggests the perfect wine to pair with your meal, and free dessert arrives because you casually mentioned it was your anniversary, that’s a great customer experience. You are going to tell your friends. That’s what we all aim to replicate in our business interactions. We aim to provide that extra something special. So how do you pull this off?
Start With Basic Customer Service
It may seem obvious, but certain things are expected. Most people don't even notice if you get the basics right. But if you get the basics wrong, you run the risk of losing a customer.
Make the customer feel important Listen, pay attention, don't keep them waiting, answer questions before they ask, be intuitive and attentive.
Be personable Get people’s names right, be efficient, and smile (even on the phone).
Be easy to get a hold of Answer the phone, and if you are unavailable, have a good message on your voicemail and be sure to return calls promptly.
Keep your promises Call back when you say you will. Do what you say you are going to do. Walk the talk.
Train your people Train your team on how to answer the phone, on how to use the right tone in emails, and everything else on this list. Try to replicate a certain kind of experience throughout the company and be consistent.
Keep customers informed Send updates before they are asked for, be transparent and keep your customers in the loop. Let them know the wheels are moving, and if not, let them know why.
Adapt to each customer Know what your customers like. How do they like to be contacted? Do they want a long conversation? Do they just want the facts? Do they want to be part of the process or just receive updates? In short, get to know them and try to be flexible.
Be consistent Make sure your team is on the same page and the experience is the same from employee to employee, even if the tactics have to change based on the customer.
Improving Customer Experience
Now that we have the basics, let's move on to really improving the overall customer experience. Great CX comes from really understanding your customers and acting on that insight. Make changes that are good for your customers, your business, and your employees.
Have a plan Create a clear CX vision - you need to visualize where you want to go before you can get there. Set objectives, start small and work towards building scale.
Align your management teams Make sure everyone is on the same page and lead by example.
Know your customers They are all different and they all need to feel valued. Be ready to adapt, deliver the level of experience they expect, and then something more, delight. Create personas and journey maps to look for insights and pain points.
Create a connection Reach your customers on an emotional level. Be original, be honest and be helpful. This where delight comes in.
Train your people (more) You know your customers. Teach your team to interact on the level and with the quality your customers expect. Empower your team to make a difference. Turn them into ambassadors and your CX will improve organically and exponentially.
Use feedback Use feedback from your front line employees and your customers. Look for ways to improve based on real experiences and pain points.
Collect Data Set high goals so you are constantly motivated to improve, then check your progress against the data. Rinse and repeat.
Be Consistent, persistent and patient.
Customer Experience in a time of Crisis
We find ourselves in a difficult time, we have to adjust, adapt and keep moving forward. During a crisis certain aspects of the customer experience become paramount.
Come from empathy Be there for your customers, but come from a place of support. We are in a tough spot. Is now is a time for a sales or marketing push? Make sure you take care of your employees and vendors too. When this is all over people will remember how you made them feel. Be true to your company values. It’s simple just be who you are. More on empathy here.
Help your customers where they need you most Explore enhanced digital offerings, offer shipping alternatives, just be flexible and understand everyone is trying to adjust.
Innovate and adapt Start thinking of new ways to reach your customers and help them navigate after the crisis is over. This might be a good time to innovate and develop new and alternative products.
“At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel." ― Maya Angelou
Leave people with a good feeling about your business. Make them feel important. Make them feel special, and if you can, bring them some delight. Better CX leads to more loyal customers and that’s just good business.
References & Links
7 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience Strategy
by Steven MacDonald
Adapting customer experience in the time of coronavirus
By Rachel Diebner, Elizabeth Silliman, Kelly Ungerman, and Maxence Vancauwenberghe
Designing and starting up a customer-experience transformation
By Ewan Duncan and Harald Fanderl, and Katy Maffei
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