Having a great product is simply not enough to support a business long-term anymore. With the rise in online shopping and the increase in competition in many product spaces, customers have more options and power than ever before. As brands try harder and harder to differentiate themselves and acquire loyal customers, the importance of the customer experience has increased dramatically.
Given that "86% of US adults are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and 73% of U.S. adults said friendly customer service made them fall in love with a brand,” it’s obvious that customer experience and customer service holds undeniable value with customers. And we're just now starting to see the difference it can make for those who prioritize it. However, most businesses today are still under-delivering in this area, with many struggle to grasp how they can deliver an experience that will keep their customers coming back.
Delivering an excellent customer experience is vital to the livelihood of your business and its long-term success. With this in mind, here are several ways that you can deliver a better customer experience:
Take a closer look at your employee experience
In order to offer your customers with an exceptional customer experience, you first need to make sure your employee experience is a positive one. If your employees are unhappy or feel they aren’t treated well by your organization, they will in turn provide your customers with a poor experience. According to customer experience expert, Shep Hyken, one of the biggest challenges businesses face today is that “CX needs to be part of a company’s culture. Simply put, what’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by the customer.” Essentially, you will be unsuccessful in delivering a positive customer experience until you can deliver a positive employee experience.
Share your customer journey and vision
Customers often experience dozens of interactions with your business before, during and after making a purchase. In order for customer service reps to empathize with your customers and understand what they have gone through, they need to be made aware of your customer journey, including all potential touchpoints along the way. Additionally, reps should also be informed of how each part of your organization works together and what your organization is trying to accomplish as a whole. Without knowing what your business stands for, it can be quite difficult for reps to distinguish between a minor customer issue and a major one (one that fails to live up to your company’s mission). Sharing your company’s mission and vision with reps enables them to think in a mindset that is more inline with your brand, creating consistency for the customer.
Additionally, knowing what each part of the organization is responsible for can help reps properly escalate important customer issues to the right team. It also gives reps a more accurate idea of what they can and cannot accomplish for customers, better managing customer expectations.
Lastly, giving your customer service reps a more complete overview of your organization will make them feel connected to the business as a whole, which is contrary to how many customer service department usually feel. Knowing how they contribute to the overall success of your business will motivate them to do their best, to the benefit of your customers.
Respond to customers as fast as you can
Speed is critical in good customer service. Customers will judge how much you care about your customers based on how fast you are able to respond to them. Although customer expectations differ by channel, that is only due to the fact that customers are used to having inconsistent experiences across channels, which have since influenced their expectations for each. The truth is, customers don’t think in terms of channels. Customers will simply use the channel that is most convenient for them in that moment and all they are looking for is someone to help resolve their issue as soon as possible.
According to research conducted by Forrester, 73% of US adults say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. With many companies only striving to respond to customers within 24 hours, it doesn’t take much to outshine your competitors here and doing so can surprise and delight customers. However, your goal first and foremost is to solve your customers issue, so be mindful as to not compromise First Contact Resolution in order to be fast. If a customer’s issue requires more time to fully resolve, simply keep them in the loop with an email update to manage expectations.
Consistency is key when it comes to delivering a great customer experience. When you are consistent, customers know what to expect from you in any situation and will begin to trust your business. Whether they have a simple inquiry or an urgent matter, constantly being there for customers and solving their problems eliminates any worries a customer may have in regards to doing business with you.
Offer multichannel support
With customers today using a number of different channels to communicate with businesses, offering consistent multichannel support is an important element to your customer experience. However, the software you use to manage your customer service can help or hinder your team’s ability to deliver consistent multichannel support. For this reason, it’s essential to implement multichannel software, which makes it possible to manage all channels from one interface, consolidating your support into one platform. Doing so has many benefits for customers and customer service reps, but offering reps with the necessary tools to deliver consistent cross-channel support is one of the biggest.
Don’t make customers switch channels
Making it as easy and convenient as possible for your customers to get in touch with your businesses increases their confidence in doing business with you. Additionally, being able to solve customer inquiries in the original channel they reached out on is equally as important as being present there. The last thing customers want to do when they have an issue is to be told they need to contact you in a different way because your business is incapable of resolving their issue in the current channel. Alternatively, should a customer want switch channels at any point throughout communicating with your support, they should be able to without having to repeat themselves, simply picking up where they left off. Essentially, let the customer be in charge of how and when they want to communicate with you.
Being readily available to your customers and consistent in how you handle their inquiries, regardless of channel, provides customers with a reliable and trustworthy experience that will attract loyal customers.
Get to know your customers
Knowing how to best approach your customers starts with actually understanding what they want and need. The only way you can do that is by getting to know them. This way, you can deliver personalized customer service that is tailored to each customer.
It could be something as simple as addressing them by their name when reaching out and taking note of their previous purchases or any relevant conversations they had with your business in the past. All of these little things make your customers feel valued and allow you to deliver more memorable, personalized customer experience.
Constantly look for areas of improvement
Your work here is never done. With constantly changing customer expectations and new advances in technology, your customer experience is something that should always continue to evolve. And the only way to truly know how your customer experience is faring is to collect feedback on your reps and each customer’s experience as a whole regularly. This will help bring to light any points of friction your customers may be experiencing with your website, processes, products or customer service.
Feedback can be collected in a number of different ways, but whichever you choose, whether it's through a transactional customer rating or a relational customer rating, keep your questions short and concise. Don’t bother your customers with something that is too much work or else you will annoy them and not get the feedback you were hoping to.
Understand the value in customer feedback
Since customer service departments are usually the closest, if not the only ones in direct contact with customers, the feedback they receive can be quite insightful for the entire organization, not just customer service. For this reason, working with the other departments in your organization and helping them understand the value in customer feedback is vital. This will also make things much easier should any serious issues arise that involve assistance from other departments as they will be more willing to act quickly to resolve them.
When it comes to your customers, it’s important to approach them knowing that this is a relationship you want for the long haul. You don’t want them to be happy for just this single transaction. You want them to enjoy shopping with you or using your services many times over. Better yet, you want them to become loyal customers while being active ambassadors of your brand. Keep in mind that a satisfied customer is willing to tell at least three people—usually family or friends—about it. On the flipside, an angry customer would be all too willing to jump on social media to tell thousands of people about how badly they were treated.
A recent Walker study predicted that customer experience will overtake price and product by 2020 as the key brand differentiator. As customer expectations continue to rise, creating an experience that puts customers in control and is tailored towards their preferences is key. With customer service being a crucial aspect of the customer experience, implementing these tips will help get you started. Remember, investing in your customer experience now will help you attract loyal customers down the road and grow your business in the long run.