Customer experience is the result of interaction between a company and the customer, from the customers’ point of view. A great customer experience goes a long way and brings not only revenue but also customer goodwill. Customer experience and brand loyalty go hand in hand and they are mutually dependant on each other. A good customer experience boosts brand loyalty while a negative experience can hamper the reputation and customer loyalty.
Developing a customer experience has become the need of the hour for companies. Many surveys have shown that more than half of the company executives and management feel that customer experience has become very crucial these days and maintaining and retaining it should be the objective of companies, which brings sales in the long run rather than a shallow one-time sale.
Customer experience is rated as high priority by many companies and they strive to deliver the same to their customers – be it the first time or regular customers.
How to build a Customer Experience Strategy?
1) Know your customers :
To build a great customer experience strategy, it is crucial that you know your customers, their behavior, their likes, and dislikes which will help you to build a strategy accordingly. Once you have a proper idea of the customers, group them into similar funnels.
Make sure the customer service and sales team categorize the customers into proper types or social media analytics or market research can be used to do the same. Once the segregation is done, then the targeting can be accordingly for enhanced customer experience. For example, its usually about two or three months before that major mobile phone launches occur.
The mobile outlet must ensure that the sales representative dealing with young customers is around their age so as to understand their lingo and dialect and also for customers do develop empathy. This gets easier and quicker sales. While if the customer is middle-aged browsing through the mobile section, a similarly aged executive would be better to explain about the product.
2) Aligning to Vision and Mission
While promoting the product, the company should ensure that all the activities that are taking place are in sync with the vision and mission of the company. The objectives of business should be listed and any business activity that is carried should be around those objectives. There will be different scenarios while dealing with customers and the company should have plans to deal with every scenario while ensuring that the plan does not deviate from the vision and mission of the company. This will give an idea to build the best possible customer experience strategy.
For example, if an electronic goods company has a mission to become the worlds most valued brand, it cannot do so by selling products cheap. The company requires sales and revenues and selling niche products is the only way to generate a revenue large enough to make it worlds most valued brand.
In this scenarios, if a customer approaches with a bulk order of the products but demands it for a very low price while promising long-term business, the company should respectfully refuse it. In this case, there is sale and generation of long-term business but that does not comply with the mission of the company. It would not become the most valued brand by offering huge discounts. This may result in the loss of a customer but the message will reach out in the market loud and clear that the company will provide premium products at a premium price only.
3) Customer Experience team
A dedicated team of customer service can always take care of the levels of customer experience and ensure it doesn’t fall. While the sales team would be concerned about completing their targets, at times, they would not be the right people to take care of customer experience. Only a dedicated team can do it effectively and maintain the standards.
It is very important from company’s point of view that the team is equipped with proper training, skill sets and standards of ideal customer experience are well defined and the team is empowered to take any decisions related to customer experience.
The team can create Standard operating procedures or SOP’s for the sales and customer service teams to follow in order to adhere to Customer Experience standards. While this may not be possible with smaller organizations, large corporates can ensure the presence of a dedicated team.
4) Customer Feedback
Customer experience is not only a onetime thing but it is a continuous process. It can always be made better and in no way can customer experience reach a level of saturation. One of the very important ways is to keep the ears open.
Passive customer feedback about the levels of experience should be recorded and acted upon. The customer experience team can modify their strategy based on the regular feedback and suggestions. The active seeking of feedback is to be done by regular customers in order to improve services and standards while passive feedback can be expected from occasional buyers.
In any case, it should be a mandate to collect customer feedback. Keeping an eye open on Social Media also helps since a lot of customers use Twitter to put pictures of products while suggesting a little modification in them.
5) FAQ’s and SOP’s
To enhance Customer experience, the customer service team should have a ready list of frequently asked questions and immediate actions that can be taken along with the procedures to respond to different customers for different queries.
Letting the customers know these steps passively would not only save the time of the customer service but even ensure that timely resolution is provided to customers by themselves following the steps. Problems, if any, should be escalated immediately to provide quicker resolution and to improve the customer experience.
6) Proper channels
Reaching customers would involve the use of channels and choosing the right channel is as important as choosing the right audience. For a great customer experience, it is essential that the company targets the right people in the right way using the right channel. For this, the company should have perfect segmentation and study of the audience.
For example, Rolex would not advertise Television but it would choose Elite business magazines for advertising. Similarly, a sale of discounted airfare of economic flight would make no sense in a business magazine, but television commercials form the right medium. The reach is just as important as the medium used to reach.
8) Customer convenience
As much as the company is interested in selling its products and services, it is essential that following regular modes would not suffice to attract customers. Having a dedicated online store as well as an offline store is important.
Not every customer will walk down to the store owing to the schedule clashes or work. Rather if same things can be provided via an app or on the website, it would definitely be a positive customer experience. For example, if a customer wants to order marriage suit, but is tied up in business meetings unable to make time to go and visit the shop, there should be a facility available with the shop to schedule a meeting as per the convenience of the customer to get the measurements and possibly few trial sizes.
The shop can charge extra for the service but should ensure that the customer experience should be positive, which in turn will be a sale. Having a 24/7 dedicated customer service representative in a hospital, providing free trials of products at home, availing the memberships of services like Gym anywhere while traveling is few ways to develop better customer experience.
In the case of the service industry, this is true wherein at times, a customer may demand something very specific in accordance with his needs. The service provider should be flexible enough to provide that. For example, in case of restaurants, a customized dish or a special request on a particular occasion or in case of jewelry, a customized design made on the request of the customer helps for a better customer experience.
Customer experience is not a one-time thing but it is a continuous process which requires relentless efforts, proper execution and many commitments from the company. It may not pay immediately but it is a full proof solution in long run.